BMW invests in 3D printing company, aims to use new materials

3D Printed Parts for BMW i8 Roadster 1

It seems like BMW’s repeated claims that it will be using new materials in its manufacturing process weren’t just for show. The Bavarian brand recently announced an investment into a 3D printing company that uses new-age materials for the process. Rapid Liquid Print claims to be able to use industry-standard materials, such as soft rubber, silicone and foams, to produce soft, flexible products without retooling or post-processing, via 3D printing, thanks to gel-printing technology.

MIT has granted RLP an exclusive license to use technologies created in the Self-Assembly Lab at MIT. The researchers have established a new printing method in which a liquid item is “printed” in 3D within a gel suspension. After printing, the object cures and is ready to use with minimal post-processing. In a couple of minutes, RLP creates large-scale items out of high-grade materials including rubber, foams, and plastics.

3D Printed Parts for BMW i8 Roadster 9 830x553

Traditional 3D printing is constrained by slow speeds, small build volumes, and poor material quality, making it unreliable as a manufacturing technique. RLP revolutionizes the way large-scale, elastomeric, airtight, and high-quality goods are created in minutes. “RLP’s breakthrough technology is disrupting the 3D-printing space by enabling the rapid printing of elastomeric structures of any size and complexity,” said Marcus Behrendt, partner and CEO at BMW i Ventures.

Schendy Kernizan, RLP’s Founder and CEO, previously co-directed and led researchers and students at MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab to deliver projects for companies such as Google, BMW, and Steelcase. Bjrn Sparrman, RLP’s Co-Founder and CTO, also handled the technical operations at the MIT Self-Assembly Lab and has led the charge for the development of RLP’s 3D printing technology since its beginnings. Skylar Tibbits and Jared Laucks, both Directors at MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab, are additional co-founders. The company aims to use the new funds to develop their 3D-printing solutions to expand within existing customers and into new customers with additional applications and materials.

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