Car Manufacturer MINI Sends a 3D Printed MINI Cooper to Space as Thousands Watch

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minianiBack in December of last year, MINI unveiled a launch of “Galactic Proportion,” as they not only launched their new MINI Cooper 5-door hatch vehicle, but they actually launched it into space! Literally hundreds of thousands of people around the world followed the event as the car company teased the launch with a very well thought out campaign. Included in that campaign, which was put together by [email protected], was a unique video teaser.

On December 17, 2014, MINI released a video showing what appeared to be an actual MINI Cooper being sent 32 kilometers into the stratosphere, with live footage via a GoPro camera. As seen in the video below, the entire “mission” was filmed and over 200,000 people watched it. Upon completion, followers were asked to visit a website to guess exactly where the MINI would land back on Earth, using an interactive map. The winner would be given a 5-door MINI Cooper for a period of 5 months.

There was one problem though. At the time of the launch, there were no actual 5-door Hatch MINI Coopers available to send to space, so [email protected] had to come up with another plan.

“Our main restraint was not having a vehicle available for the launch date,” Gregory King, Creative Director for [email protected], explained. “We focused on 1 simple insight, that the 5 doors of the new MINI created more interior SPACE for our target audience. With that in mind, we asked ourselves, what better way could we launch this new model than to physically launch the first ever MINI into space! With the release of a teaser and reveal video and with typical MINI sense of humor, we revealed the fact that we launched a 3D printed miniature scale replica and not a full size car.”

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That’s right! It wasn’t an actual full-size MINI cooper that was launched into the stratosphere, but it was a 3D printed version, which was much smaller yet looked almost exactly like the real thing. The car was printed out on a desktop FDM 3D printer before being post processed and painted to look exactly like its full-scale counterpart.

“Whatever the size, putting a MINI into space was no easy task,” [email protected] explained. “We worked with various modeling tools to 3D print an exact replica that could withstand the journey and in a very short timeline. “

The actual launch and landing of the MINI replica had to be planned with local and international aviation authorities to ensure that they had permissions for their flight paths. In order to make the tracking and filming of the event go as well as possible, they used 2 GSM locators, radar reflectors, a couple GoPro cameras, a black box and external sensors.

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“The public’s engagement was way more than anticipated, with organic PR and news coverage creating over 212,000 views of the YouTube experience,” the company explained. “Most importantly, for the brand positioning, we went where no mini has gone before, to space.”

This is just another tremendous example of how large companies are turning toward 3D printing in order to save precious time and money. While some car companies use the technology for prototyping parts, others actually 3D print some of their end-use products, but MINI’s case, they took things in another direction with a 3D printed miniature vehicle as part of a very effective advertising campaign.

What do you think about this unique way of incorporating 3D printing into a company’s advertising budget? Discuss in the 3D Printed MINI Cooper to Space forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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