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Print your Buzz: Volkswagen challenge invites designers to 3D print parts for electric minivan

Participants are tasked with coming up with original and 3D printable ideas to make the electric I.D. Buzz even more special

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Volkswagen, one of the largest car manufacturers in the world, is inviting designers and innovators to come up with 3D printable designs to take its I.D. Buzz vehicle to the next level. The crowdsourcing initiative, called Print your Buzz, is hosted via the open innovation platform jovoto and aims to generate original and innovative ideas for “customizable and/or functional” elements for the VW van.

First introduced in 2017, Volkswagen’s I.D. Buzz is an electric minivan inspired by the German automaker’s famous van model design. Still in its prototyping stage, the I.D. Buzz is headed towards production, as Volkswagen expects a ready-to-market vehicle to launch in 2022.

Fortunately for electric car enthusiasts, the German automaker has come up with a novel idea for keeping us busy and entertained until that date: a 3D printing design challenge. The Print your Buzz challenge comes with a €27,300 prize pool and is seeking to leverage the benefits of 3D printing (namely customization and design innovation) to make its electric van even more special.

“Based on the potential of 3D technology,” the company writes on the challenge page, “VW challenges you to create ideas for customizable and/or functional integrated 3D printed interior and exterior elements of the VW ID Buzz that create added value for the customer through function, aesthetics and/or comfort.”

The first phase of the challenge invites designers to submit a description of their original idea, including how it adds value to the vehicle and to its potential clients, along with a sketch, 3D image or 3D file showcasing the part’s design and 3D printability. Submissions chosen for the second phase of the challenge will then have to submit a 3D printable model of the part.

The automaker also puts forward two target groups for designers to keep in mind while developing their 3D printable I.D. Buzz elements. The first target group is families with kids—the most likely to seek out the electric minivan for everyday use and traveling. The second target group is listed as “young people with a high affinity to design and innovation” who are seeking a sustainable, tech-equipped and individualized vehicle.

Volkswagen elaborates: “You can base your ideas on current and/or anticipated customer needs—what would the customers described in the Target Group Personas love to have in their new car? Keep in mind future mobility use cases, such as urban developments, autonomous driving and sharing economy.”

In coming up with unique ideas for additions to the I.D. Buzz, designers are also asked to focus on the key benefits of additive manufacturing in the automotive sector: product innovation and process innovation. The former consists of 3D printing’s propensity for design innovation. For instance, additive manufacturing enables unprecedented levels of internal geometries, allowing for more lightweight and optimized parts. We’re talking bio-inspired geometries, multi-function parts and more.

Print your Buzz Volkswagen challenge

Process innovation, for its part, has to do with the flexibility 3D printing affords in terms of production volumes and locations. In other words, how it enables customization more easily than traditional manufacturing processes.

“Ideas should come from a customer-centric perspective. They should be based on possible customer needs and offer respective responses, thus adding value to the customers’ experience of the VW I.D. Buzz,” Volkswagen adds. “Ideas can cover the interior, as well as the exterior of the I.D. Buzz. Also ideas in non-visible areas which might enhance the customer experience can be suggested.”

Submissions for the I.D. Buzz 3D printing challenge are now open. Participants seeking to take advantage of the contest’s “halftime feedback” must submit their proposals by September 14. Otherwise, the final submission date is September 20. The rating phase is expected to wrap up on September 27. As mentioned, there is a prize pool of €27,300, spread into community prizes, client awards, best collaboration and best feedback.

Participants interested in Print your Buzz can find more information and challenge specifics here. You can also follow submissions as they are posted. So far, we’ve seen a surface cleaning device, a pet carrier, wheelchair ramp and many more.

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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