Though 3D printed polymers are finding their range in new industries every day, when it comes to end-use parts, some in the automotive industry believe the technology is not yet ready for the road – specificly the volume of production seen in the automotive industry.
Automation and scale are the main challenges to automotive’s uptake. But a new service from MINI allows 3D printers to work within their range, playing to its strengths in mass-customization.
3D print my ride
MINI Yours Customised is an app and supporting web shop that allows customers to modify features of their car. With the app, users can add names and symbols to inserts for a car’s side scuttles or dashboard trims. The custom-designed components are 3D printed on-demand by MINI and colored afterwards either in “Aspen White”, “Chili Red”, “Jet Black”, “Melting Silver” or “White Silver”.
A spokesperson for the company states, “MINI is committed to digitalisation and innovative production procedures for realising individual customer wishes.”
“Alongside the global web shop, a completely new distribution chain has been installed for direct sales to the customer. Equally, the 3D printing procedure has been specially tailored to the production of individual products in large numbers for the MINI Yours Customised package.”
Made in Germany
According to the company, the 3D printers used to make the inlays were “precisely configured for this purpose by the BMW Group through strategic partnerships with the companies Hewlett-Packard Inc., Carbon Inc. and EOS GmbH.”
While the details of how these parts are 3D printed are not public, all MINI Yours Customised products are produced at facilities in Germany, home to EOS HQ, and they are colored after printing, making DyeMansion Powershot coating a likely contender.
The custom service is available for current MINI 3-door and the MINI 5-door cars and the MINI convertible models. As cosmetic touches, all the 3D printed parts can be installed by the customers.
Elsewhere in industry, 3D printers are adding value in cost savings to auto tooling and spare part services. Metal additive is also starting to make its mark for “next generation” car models like Divergent 3D’s Blade supercar.
Featured image shows a custom 3D printed scuttle. Photo via MINI/BMW Group