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BMW’s M850i Night Sky integrates meteorite fragments, 3D printed features

BMW breaches the final frontier with its new bespoke car design

BMW’s Individual Manufaktur customization facility in Garching, Germany is known for producing some pretty amazing and unique vehicles, but its latest car is, to be blunt, out of this world. The vehicle, dubbed the BMW Individual M850i Night Sky, integrates some truly stellar features, including actual extra-terrestrial fragments and innovative 3D printed components.

It’s funny, usually it’s the 3D printed components of a bespoke car that are the most noteworthy, but in this case, I have to admit, the Night Sky’s meteorite fragments steal the spotlight. As BMW writes on its blog: “On rare occasions, smaller rocks in space penetrate our planet’s protective shield and fall to Earth as meteorites. Some of these extra-terrestrial fragments have now been incorporated into the cabin of the BMW Individual M850i Night Sky.”

More specifically, BMW has incorporated meteoric rock fragments into the centre console’s trim plate, the start/stop button for the Night Sky’s V8 engine, as well as in a number of other areas. Inlays made from the extra-terrestrial material are also included in the door sill finishers with an illuminated model badge.

BMW M850i Night Sky

Rolling with the extra-terrestrial theme, the M850i Night Sky also integrates a centre console displaying an illuminated constellation of stars as well as constellation-inspired surface designs for the vehicle’s trim finishers, seat backrests, brake discs and exterior add-on-parts.

The unique and otherworldly car was developed by BMW Individual Manufaktur in collaboration with researchers from the Garching-based Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, who offered their expertise in outer space throughout the concept and design process.

With input from the institute, the BMW engineers also added a number of subtler design elements to the car inspired by space. For instance, many of the vehicle’s interior and exterior elements mimic a structure unique to meteorites, known as the Widmanstätten surface pattern.

BMW M850i Night Sky

“The strictly geometric structure, with its straight lines, has the appearance of ice crystals and becomes visible when certain types of iron meteorite are polished or brought into contact with acidic compounds,” BMW writes. “The structure is the result of the metal alloy cooling down in an extremely slow process that cannot be reproduced on Earth, making it an unmistakable signature of extra-terrestrial material. The unique pattern was first observed back in the early 19th century by a number of people, including the Austrian scientist Alois von Beckh Widmanstätten, after whom it is named.”

In mimicking the Widmanstätten surface pattern throughout the car, the BMW team relied on various methods, including milling and 3D printing. For instance, the exterior mirror caps, the front splitters for the side air intakes at the front of the car, the centre mesh plate and the surrounds for the Air Breathers on the front side panels were all custom 3D printed at the Individual Manufaktur customization facility.

The vehicle’s brake callipers were also 3D printed and underwent a smart redesign to lightweight the part. The final components, printed from aluminum, were developed by BMW Motorsport and are 30% lighter than their traditionally manufactured counterparts. “The substantial reduction in unsprung mass produces a noticeable improvement in driving dynamics and ride comfort,” the car manufacturer says.

BMW M850i Night Sky

Interestingly, the brake callipers integrate a bone-inspired bionic structure which results in the perfect balance between rigidity and weight. The redesign process also enabled the engineers to integrate the brake fluid channels directly into the part’s structure for better performance and weight reduction.

The Night Sky itself was built from BMW’s new M850i xDrive Coupe, a four-seater luxury vehicle with a 390 kW/530 hp V8 engine, track-tuned chassis technology and BMW’s xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system. The bespoke, extra-terrestrial vehicle’s look was completed with a sleek and otherworldly paint finish, made up of black and metallic blue paint and coated with numerous layers of clear paint for a greater sense of depth.

“The BMW Individual Manufaktur customisation facility has always specialised in the production of one-off creations that lend expression to BMW drivers’ personal sense of style,” BMW writes. “Its mission is to turn individual customer requests into reality. The specialists from BMW Individual work together with the customer to produce bespoke solutions that range from extraordinary exterior paint finishes to exotic materials for the interior, special equipment features, accessories, stitching patterns, engravings and inlays.”

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault moved from her home of Montreal, Canada to the Netherlands in 2014 to pursue a master’s degree in Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. It was during her time in Amsterdam that she became acquainted with 3D printing technology and began writing for a local additive manufacturing news platform. Now based in France, Tess has over two and a half years experience writing, editing and publishing additive manufacturing content with a particular interest in women working within the industry. She is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM industry.

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