In the automotive industry, manufacturers are increasingly adopting additive manufacturing to bring a fresh look to the design. 3D printing companies go beyond that: open innovation programs are created to push this specific industry forward.
Aware of the potential of 3D printing, Mini has preferred to partner with 3D printing companies to bring that fresh look to cars through customization. And when Oliver Heilmer is asked the reason of such change, he said: “We can do things now as designers that we couldn’t do before we had 3D printing. This entire door panel is one piece, and when manufactured by 3D printing it’s much lighter. But we can also change the look and feel of it at any moment, even after the manufacturing starts, without having to create new tools to make it. Before this, it would take more than a year to make a change happen.” It should be noted that he specifically took the example of the Mini John Cooper Works GP Concept.
The Mini John Cooper
The manufacturing of this car implied the 3D printing of several parts, from those doors to the center wheel locks. According to the designer, the structural design is more precisely crafted due to the use of 3D printers and their capacity to handle such complexity.
As a reminder, other parts can be customized so that the user really feels he/she has a unique product. We are referring here to side cuttles, and other design elements.
“There’s an emotional aspect behind 3D printing. It frees up the design to allow personal bonding with your car,” Oliver Heilmer affirmed. “Maybe it’s basic white or gray, or a pattern or design, like a heart or paper airplane. It might be playful or serious.”
The technology advances. People do not always see the results efficiently but it’s getting better every year.
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