This week’s selection is the Apple AirTag Keyring and Enclosure Mount by Thingiverse contributor AnonymousHermit.
“Hermit” also goes by the name “Bob Hadababyitsaboy, and has hit on a very timely design for this week.
The AirTag Keyring is just that: a design to perfectly fit a new Apple AirTag with an easy-to-use loop for attaching chains.
This is a timely design because Apple just announced the new AirTag device last week. The AirTag is a large coin-sized object that is used for locating objects. The idea is to attach the AirTag to something of value, and the item can then be geographically located using Apple’s FindMy app.
Apple has done something quite interesting here: the device isn’t just using GPS; instead it’s using the location of nearby iPhones. Should an AirTag pass by a random iPhone (or vice versa), the location of the AirTag will be tracked anonymously. Essentially, Apple has turned their entire fleet of millions (or is it billions?) of iPhones into a secure crowdsourced sensor network for AirTags.
The app shows you not only the geographic location, but also leads you directly to the object, should the AirTag still be attached.
But that’s the catch: how do you attach the small AirTag to an object? Apple provides a series of pricey attachment options. They list a series of fob-like mounting rings that start at US$29 for the cheapest option. However, you can spend much more if you opt for the elite Hermès options that go up to an incredible US$449 for a luggage tag. (Note: that’s more than the cost of some luggage! Oh, and you have to buy the US$29 AirTag, too.)
Enter the 3D printing option. Instead of buying one of the stylish-but-expensive Apple options, why not 3D print your own AirTag holder? Hermit has produced a well-designed simple option for doing so.
The parts provided by Hermit are easy to print, and you could produce several sets for the price of a single official Apple holder. You will also be able to choose from more colors than Apple provides, if your 3D printer material supplies are sufficiently broad.
I believe this design is one of many that will gradually emerge to address the AirTag mounting gap. While Apple considers luggage and keys the main uses of AirTags, it’s very likely there are all kinds of other uses.
An example might be to hide an AirTag on a bicycle so that it could be tracked if stolen. Using Apple’s mounting options would present the AirTag visibly where the perp could easily remove it. But what if one designed a sneaky design that hides the AirTag?
It’s these unusual AirTag applications that will make the most of 3D printing technology. Already there are over a dozen AirTag designs on Thingiverse, and I expect many more to come.