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Automotive 3D printing customized services driven by individual needs

With the rapid growth of the automobile consumer market, consumers have increasingly strong demand for personalized models. The personalization of cars is reflected in personalized interiors and exteriors, as well as personalized power systems and bodies. In the automobile industry chain, there are not only companies that specialize in automobile modification, but also some well-known automobile manufacturers that provide consumers with personalized services.

Consumers’ pursuit of car personalization has led to a highly potential car customization service market. The field of car after-sales modification alone contains huge market potential. Public information shows that since 2005, the demand for modifications in my country has surged, and the market size reached 45 billion yuan in 2015. The market is mainly concentrated in directly-administered and developed provincial capital cities. Since 2005, the scale of market investment has increased year by year, with an increase rate of more than 20%. The increase has been even greater in the past five years. In 2013, the market’s new capital was more than $3 billion.

In my country’s automobile modification market, from product research and development to end-user services, the industrial division of labor is becoming more and more detailed, and the market is gradually maturing. However, if we make a horizontal comparison with the United States, although my country is the largest automobile producer and consumer, the scale of the automobile modification market is less than 1/10 of that of the United States. It can be seen that China’s automobile modification market still has growth potential if relevant policies and market supervision allow it.
The small-batch customized production of auto parts is a strong backing for providing consumers with personalized auto services. We know that under the current mass production model of auto parts, the manufacturing cost and time cost of small batch and personalized production are expensive. Therefore, whoever can master economical, efficient, and flexible small-batch production technology and establish an efficient customized service system will be able to take the initiative in the automobile customized service market.

Because of its economical and efficient advantages in small batch production of parts, 3D printing technology has attracted many car manufacturers and car tuners who provide personalized services.

Serving the personalized needs of users
— MINI’s personalized car parts 3D printing service is here
MINI cars have always attached great importance to personalization. Car owners can choose different car exteriors and interiors according to personal preferences, such as choosing their favorite body, roof, mirror and wheel colors.

The BMW Group, the manufacturer of MINI, announced at the end of 2017 that starting from 2018, MINI cars will provide personalized customization services for auto parts through 3D printing technology. Using 3D printing technology, MINI’s customized services will be pushed to a new level.
Starting from 2018, new and existing MINI owners can design their own interior and exterior accessories through a dedicated online configurator, including: 3D printed instrument panels, side indicators, personalized metal panels and LED puddle lights . Indicators and instrument clusters are available in a choice of five colors and can display text, simple images and texture patterns, or cityscapes. Illuminated panels can display the car owner’s handwritten text, basic images and even constellations.

After the design requirements are submitted, the car owner’s customized parts will be delivered within four weeks. All customized parts will be completed by BMW in Munich and then sent to MINI. Each component will undergo crash and durability testing by the BMW Group. It is understood that MINI’s 3D printing customization service will be launched in Europe first. The price of a personalized puddle lamp is about 40 euros, and the price of a personalized dashboard is about 140 euros.
Before launching this service, BMW had done a lot of work in the application field of 3D printing technology. MINI cooperates with equipment manufacturers including German EOS to jointly develop relevant processes and establish a professional manufacturing factory. The parts produced by the factory meet user needs in terms of quality and durability.

BMW began producing parts for Rolls-Royce Phantoms as early as 2012, including plastic brackets for hazard warning lights, central locking buttons, electronic parking brakes and sockets. Since then, BMW has used 3D printing technology to manufacture Rolls-Royce fiber optic cable connection brackets.
BMW has introduced Carbon 3D continuous liquid interface production technology (CLIP) equipment, which is known for its fast printing speed, and also introduced HP’s multi-jet melting 3D printer. Before BMW officially launched the MINI 3D printing service, it used CLIP 3D printing equipment to customize 3D printed parts for some MINI customers on a small scale.

BMW has used HP multi-jet fusion 3D printers to create prototypes for automotive component testing. BMW believes that the printing speed of the device, the integrity of the printed products, surface finish and economy, as well as the open material development cooperation platform, have laid the foundation for printing products that can be brought to the market.

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