What was a promising experiment in automotive 3D printing has apparently come to an end. While doing some follow-up research for our upcoming Automotive AM eBook, I clicked onto the MINI Yours Customised home page, eager for an update on the personalization service launched by BMW back in 2018. Sadly, I was greeted by a succinct message, stating that the custom automotive program was no longer.
We have reached out to BMW for some indication on when and why the program was stopped, but for now let’s take a look at what the venture consisted of.
MINI, the BMW-owned British automaker, first introduced the MINI Yours Customised service in late 2017, as part of a creative effort to make customization for its vehicles more accessible. The innovative service, which relied partially on 3D printing to make the custom features, was rolled out in 2018 for MINI models in Europe and other large markets.
Among the personalized features that a MINI customer could choose from (on an intuitive online platform) were LED door sills and door projectors, interior trims and side scuttles (aka indicator inlays). Customers had the options to choose from different colors and could opt to personalize their MINI with a signature or motif.
Driving this customization service were 3D printing and laser lettering. Specifically, BMW was working with polymer 3D printing suppliers HP, EOS and Carbon. After a customer placed an order for their custom accessory, it would be manufactured in Germany and dispatched within just a few weeks. From there, the customer could easily install the personalized automotive accents in their own car. (They could also be removed and swapped out!)
The company said at the time: “The product range offered by MINI Yours Customized will once again make the British premium brand a pioneer and trendsetter in the area of customer orientation, expansion of digital services and the establishment of innovative production processes. Individualization has always been highly valued in the worldwide MINI community.”
MINI highlighted its customizable 3D printed features with a special Royal Wedding Edition car, made in honor of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s nuptials. The one-of-a-kind MINI Hatch was characterized by a bespoke roof graphic, as well as 3D printed details, including initialled signal indicators and side scuttles. (The car was donated to charity for public auction.)
While it is unfortunate that the personalization service is no longer available, there is something to be said for BMW and MINI’s forward-thinking approach. Recognizing AM’s propensity for customization, the automotive players got to work to bring something new and exciting to their customers.