Alpina Burkard Bovensiepen GmbH + Co. KG creates exclusive automobiles for discerning customers, using BMW models as a basis. They are also active participants in the auto racing scene. The automobile manufacturer, located in Buchloe in Germany‘s Allgäu region, has been successfully using OPEN MIND Technologies‘ hyperMILL CAM system to create NC programs for years.
Typical Alpina customers use their cars a lot, driving 20,000, 30,000 or even 50,000 kilometres a year. They require cars perfectly suited to everyday use, but don‘t wish to forgo a touch of exclusivity. “Alpina creates sophisticated vehicles based on the BMW 3, 5, 6 and 7 series,” says Alpina CEO Andreas Bovensiepen.
The two companies have been closely linked ever since Bovensiepen‘s father, Burkard Bovensiepen, placed a Weber dual carburettor in a BMW 1500 in 1961, increasing its output by 14 hp. From this promising beginning, Alpina has developed into an independent automobile manufacturer with almost 200 employees and an annual turnover of approximately EUR 50 million. Alpina only produces between 1,000 and 1,200 cars a year, a sure sign of their exclusive nature.
Alpina is no mere car tuner but a proper automobile manufacturer: “A BMW Alpina is not a vehicle modified after manufacture,” says Bovensiepen. “From the moment it comes into the world, it is equipped with Alpina-specific parts, including motor, gearbox, exhaust system, cooling system, wheels, and chassis, as well as a modified bodyshell with aerodynamic components. And let‘s not forget the interior.” In fact, Alpina‘s interiors can meet almost any customer demand.
Thanks to the well-developed bond of trust between BMW and Alpina, Alpina is given access to the CAD data they need to develop their BMW Alpina models as far as 18 months in advance of BMW‘s serial production launch.
BMW Alpina models are partially manufactured on the BMW production line – the Alpina-specific parts are delivered to the factory and installed by BMW. The finishing touches, such as the addition of aerodynamic components, take place at Alpina‘s factory in Buchloe. Customers receive high-performance vehicles with a high safety rating and comparatively low energy consumption.
Andreas Bovensiepen describes his core customer base as “businessmen, independent contractors and freelancers” with a penchant for technology and automobiles; people who know how to appreciate the high quality and individuality offered by Alpina‘s vehicles.
The main markets for the cars from Allgäu, apart from Germany, are in the UK, Switzerland, the US and Japan.
The cars are marketed by selected BMW dealers, who receive specialized training from Alpina.
In addition to its production of road vehicles, Alpina is also actively involved in the auto racing scene. Last year, Alpina even reached first place at Germany‘s GT Series, the ADAC GT Masters. “Our involvement with racing helps to strengthen our brand image and improves our market visibility around the world. That a “David” like us was able to win against the “Goliaths‘ of this world certainly attracted attention,” says Bovenspiepen.
OPEN MIND sponsors Alpina‘s racing efforts, a fact reflected by advertising on the racing cars themselves.
Anyone who wants to be as successful as Alpina when it comes to road cars and racing needs the best possible tools in order to produce quality components at every stage of the manufacturing process, and introduce new ideas wherever possible. About four years ago, Alpina decided to use hyperMILL for its CAM system. Not only does the program have the required functionality, it is ‘made in Germany‘ and the two companies are located in close proximity – both deciding factors in Alpina‘s decision.
Reduced programming expenditure
hyperMILL allows users to program any type of machining – 2D, 3D, HSC and 5axis milling, as well as mill turning from within a standardised user interface. After all, there are hardly any modern components that require only one type of machining. In particular, the user is presented only with options that are task-oriented, practical and safe, instead of every imaginable configuration. This is one of the reasons that users are able to progress so quickly. “An additional hyperMILL speciality is its ability to work with indexed axes. 5-axis machining is not about completing as many movements as possible; it is about milling economically. And that is achieved when a task can be completed with a minimum amount of movements,” explains Andreas Leser, Marketing Director for OPEN MIND. hyperMILL automatically indexes those axes which are not needed. Fully simultaneous operation only occurs when there is no other option. Among other things, this process also spares the machines.