What was a promising experiment in the 3D printing of automobiles has apparently come to an end. While doing some research for our upcoming Automotive AM eBook, I clicked on the MINI Yours Customized homepage and was excited to see an update on the personalization service that BMW introduced in 2018 that the Custom Automotive program was no longer.
We reached out to BMW to find out when and why the program stopped, but now let’s look at what the company was made up of.
MINI, the British BMW automaker, launched the MINI Yours Customized service for the first time in late 2017 to make customization of its vehicles more accessible. The innovative service, which relied in part on 3D printing to create the custom functions, was launched for MINI models in Europe and other major markets in 2018.
The personalized functions that a MINI customer could choose from (on an intuitive online platform) included LED door sills and door projectors, interior panels and side panels (also known as indicator inserts). Customers were able to choose from different colors and personalize their MINI with a signature or a motif.
The decisive factors for this customization service were 3D printing and laser marking. In particular, BMW worked with the polymer 3D printing providers HP, EOS and Carbon. After a customer ordered their customized accessories, they were made in Germany and shipped within a few weeks. From there, the customer could easily install the personalized vehicle accents in his own car. (They could also be removed and swapped!)
The company said at the time: “The MINI Yours Customized product range will once again make the British premium brand a pioneer and trendsetter in the areas of customer orientation, the expansion of digital services and the establishment of innovative production processes. Individualization has always had a high priority in the worldwide MINI community. “
MINI highlighted its customizable 3D printing capabilities with a special Royal Wedding Edition car made in honor of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. The unique MINI Hatch was characterized by a tailor-made roof graphic and 3D-printed details, including initialized signal displays and recessed sides. (The car was donated to charity for public auctions.)
It is unfortunate that the personalization service is no longer available, but there is something to be said for BMW and MINI’s forward-looking approach. Automakers recognized AM’s propensity to adapt and went to work bringing something new and exciting to their customers.