Remember when the new VW Bug was introduced, and suddenly there were many people who just had to have the new model, when the old model seemed like it was satisfying people? If you think about it, since cars are such a big financial commitment, automobile manufacturers have to create innovative ways to sell them. Entirely changing the design of an old model (like the VW bug) is a radical step, while upgrading old models by adding new design features is a more common practice.
When maker and Shapeways user jwhdevries, or J. de Vries, saw the third generation Mini Cooper design (the F56), he noticed several things: its body was longer, it had a new transmission and engine, and it had a key fob design that he describes as an “alien-like spaceship.” Perhaps a fitting key fob design for a round car like the VW Bug, the Mini F56 fob needed its own upgrade, de Vries’ opinion, so he designed a 3D printable key fob that became one of April’s top sellers on Shapeways.
de Vries noticed that other Mini Cooper drivers were not happy with the new key fob design either, and they took to their Sugru moldable glue or even electric tape to do something about it. With the key fob described as “unnecessarily large and odd-shaped,” it shouldn’t be a shock that Mini Cooper drivers preferred a smaller and more compact one. It’s a small and streamlined car, after all. The 3D printable design de Vries came up with is intended to replace the large disc-shaped key cover. It’s available for $7.50 on Shapeways in 11 colors, and printed in Strong & Flexible plastic material.
Here, de Vries describes the new improved key fob, and how to replace the old one with it:
“Mini F56 Key cover as replacement for the original larger disc shaped cover. The F55 , 5 doors Mini should also fit because the keys are the same. If the new key cover is ‘snapped in’ do not try to remove it by pulling up the end-part, it will break, especially the metallic plastic. Remove it by lifting up the middle flat part and simultaneous slide it towards the rounded top. There is no need to remove the back of the key-containing MINI, although it would help.”
After being posted on North American Motoring, the key fob got an excellent response; people reported they immediately ordered one when they saw his new streamlined design. It was then reviewed on Motoring Fun which resulted in enough orders being made that de Vries’ simple design became one of Shapeways’ top sellers in April. Considering that this design is intended for a relatively small community of people looking for an alternative to the Mini F56 key fob, this popularity reveals how practical 3D printing technologies can be “fob-ulous” when it comes to the little things in life.
“I am not making this into a Business, its original design was intended for personal use, and this is a one time only,” the designer said of his product. “I am giving you the opportunity to get it through Shapeways now only here because I became aware there are more Mini owners looking for a smaller key.”
Are you interested in a Mini fob, or do you need one for your own car? Discuss in the 3D Printed Mini Fob forum over at 3DPB.com.