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BMW customized its new M850i Night Sky edition with actual meteors and 3D printed parts

BMW's M850i Night Sky edition

Meet the new M850i Night Sky edition, which is the best version of the new 8 Series Coupe of BMW, a German manufacturer of motorcycles and automobiles.

Manufactured at the automaker’s arm, BMW Individual customization facility in Garching, the new bespoke car is integrated with some truly stellar features, including actual meteorite fragments and 3D printed components.

The Quadrantids shower occurs when the Earth passes by the 2003 EH asteroid from which the meteors likely originated, and it has one of the shortest and most intense peaks of the yearly visible meteor showers. Rarely, some of those meteors can make their way through the planet’s atmosphere and fall to the ground as meteorites. In this case, they made their way all the way into this M850i coupe.

This very special M850i incorporates meteorite into the car’s cabin that are small rocky or metallic body come from outer space. BMW called this meteorite fragments as ‘meteoritic material’.

The center console’s trim plate, the start/stop button, the selector lever and the Touch Controller for the iDrive system are all decorated with the meteoric rock. Inlays made from the extra-terrestrial material are also included in the door sill finishers, along with an illuminated model badge.

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.”

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 out of the world 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.

“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.

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

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.

About the author

Divya Sagar

Divya Sagar

Divya Sagar is Content Editor at CNT Expositions and Services and manages the content of its online website, Indian 3D Printing Network. With a longstanding commitment to the site's content, she is credited with tracking and publishing news related to 3D Printing Industry. She also tracks market trends, key developments and the latest 3D printing research.