BMW Creates Unique 3D Modelling for New 5-Series

BMW continues to push the boundaries when it comes to vehicle design and now it has become the first car manufacturer to develop and use a fully-automated optical measuring cell. Installed at BMW’s pilot plant in Munich, the system uses freely moving robot arms equipped with sensors to create a three-dimensional image of the entire vehicle. A 3D data model from the data captured is then created, with an accuracy of less than 100 µm. This allows barely visible deviations to be identified at an early design stage.

The optical measuring cell is deployed during the time between development and series production. It forms part of the BMW Group’s digitalisation strategy for production which is presently being rolled out across the business. The first vehicle to benefit from this new technology will be the next generation BMW 5 Series Sedan.

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According to BMW, the optical measuring cell helps save significant time in development whilst also offering more accuracy. “A single measurement provides us with a 3D data model of the total vehicle. Lengthy individual measurements and data collation are no longer needed – saving time and enhancing quality at the start of series production,” explains Eduard Obst, who is in charge of vehicle measuring and analysis at BMW. The firm reckons that digitally mapping a vehicle now takes around half the time it previously did, being completed within a few days. Owing to the fact the system is automated, scanning can take place out of hours, too.

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The fundamental benefits derived from the system are improvements in the quality of final production. Deviations from the CAD drawings of new cars can be picked up far earlier on an acted upon to ensure that when delivered, new 5-Series’ are of the highest quality.

Whilst this is the first time the fully-automated optical measuring cell has been used on a vehicle, it’s by no means the first time it has been used to aid vehicle production. This technology has been successfully used in toolmaking in Munich since 2015 for complete measurement of individual sheet-metal parts, as well as tool inspection.

The BMW Group is currently exploring the use of automated optical measurement at its car plants.

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