3D Printed Tap Handles

Have you always had that idea, but just didn’t know how to make it or didn’t have the funds to purchase an entire machine shop?

Well with recent advances in rapid prototyping technology and the expiration of some key patents, the availability of so-called 3D printers has exploded.

In this post, I’ll show you how I put mine to good use for my beer dispensing by designing and printing a tap handle.

Difficulty: level_5

Due to the investment in a 3D printer and the amount of time it takes to get one dialed in and making parts, this one gets a high difficulty rating.

You also must posses some CAD design skills to generate the required files to send to the 3D printer.

Time Required:

I can’t really put a time on this one.  It’s really a labor of love.

For the print time only, this particular handle took about 11 hours of print time.

Cost:

$300 to $3000 depending on how nice of a printer you want to get.

Required:

3D Printer

Ever since I first saw my first rapid prototyping machine in college and then to a greater extent, seeing that this technology was nearly affordable for a DIY person like me, I’ve had a child-like fascination with these awesome machines.  It may sound goofy, but I’ve got the same level of amazement that I did when my Dad bought our first computer in the early ’80s and I was able to type my name and have it appear on our television.

I got the Flashforge Creator and I am very happy with it.  It had the right balance of cost, dual-extruders, reliability, non-proprietary filament and has required me to do a little bit of tinkering that has allowed me to better understand the capabilities 3D printers.

CAD Software

I use SolidWorks, but there are plenty of different paid packages as well as some free ones.  I won’t even begin to list them here, but some good research will turn up what you want.

Designing:

To print something, you must first have some sort of solid model.  I had the idea that I would make something that would be extremely difficult to make out of wood, metal or other material.  The beer geek in me also thought to go with the theme of beer ingredients.

Water + Barley + Hops + Yeast = Beer (the beer being real beer dispensing from the faucet)

 

016-WBHY_v3 CAD

Printing:

This was mid-process in printing my first version of the tap handle.  I wasn’t confident that I could print the logo in the handle in a different color at the same time.  I printed a separate plaque that I would glue on later.  I was still learning and I still learn something new every time I use the thing.

016-WBHY_v1 getting printed

This is my second version where I was able to successfully print the letters vertically.

016 - Handle on print bed

I had to print the other parts separately and glue them in later.

016 - ready to glue

016 - WBHY Handle v3 - yeast flask

Version 3 is shown above.  I experimented with clear filament and was able to make a yeast starter flask instead of the boring one color flask.  All WBHY tap handles will have the this flask from now on.  I was also able to remove the gaps in the hop cone.  That looks much better now too.

3D printers are awesome, but they are still far away from being able to print everything usable.  I chose to use press-in inserts for the threading.

1. I didn’t think that the plastic threads would be durable enough

2. I didn’t think that the threads would be dimensionally correct

016 - brass insert

Here is my first version that I used for our Strausstoberfest party.

016-WBHY_v1 3_4 view

Whats next?

Your imagination is the limit…..

Want to build one?

The intention in making these files downloadable and free is for people to make this themselves or modify/improve the design to suit them.

Go to Thingiverse to download the STL files and build your own.

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:542537

Don’t have a Thingiverse account?

If you don’t have a Thingiverse account or have no interest in creating one, you can download the CAD files & Templates by subscribing using the form below:
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

By clicking on the download, you agree to the terms of this license and to be added to the awesome fermware.com subscriber list. Don’t worry, you won’t receive a bunch of trub in your inbox.

Please provide your name and email address for your free download.

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If you are interested in this for commercial purposes (i.e. you want to make money on my effort), I’m flattered, but please contact me first.

Don’t have a printer and want to buy one?

I’m offering a printing and assembly service for $47 (including free shipping) for those that don’t have a 3D printer and would like a tap handle.

Everyone should understand what cosmetic quality one should expect from a 3D printed part and the pictures on this post I feel, do a sufficient job of it.  I will not do any finishing work on the tap handles.  I feel that the as-printed look is part of the charm of these parts.

I can offer customized text.  It looks like approximately 18 characters would fit.  I would of course let you approve a rendering first.  The text I’ve got on the tap handle now, is about the smallest I would want to go and have it look nice.

If you have a custom logo or artwork you want on a tap handle, the best thing to have is CAD friendly file formats such as DXF, DWG or some other native CAD file format.
I can accept a certain amount of customization (colors, fonts or wording), but for anything beyond that, please contact me for a custom quote.

I can now also customize the color of the plus and equal symbols.

My preferred logo/text method on the sides is now plaques as shown below.  They print much better and also allow two color logos.

016-customer - Linkenbrau

If you want ideas, check out my Gallery of Customer 3D Printed Tap Handles showing some of the tap handles already made for customers.

I also take custom orders, such as the kombucha tap handle I did for Pekoe Kombucha Bar in Toronto, ON.

Lead time from the date of order could be up to three weeks.

Use the link below to purchase for $47 via PayPal.  Shipping to the US only at this price.  If you live outside the US, contact me through the contact link in the top menu bar of the site.

Buy Now Button

016 - WBHY Handle v3

Mein Bierwagen Part 6 – Storage of the Bierwagen

The party is over and now you’ve got this gigantic Bierwagen sitting in your garage.  Where am I going to put this?  This post will show you my solution and maybe help you on where to put yours.

Difficulty: level_3

This project just requires some basic building skills, but you might need some help getting the keezer onto the Bierwagen.

Posts for this Project:

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Building of the frame
Part 3: Bicycle wheel attachment
Part 4: Getting the keezer onto the Bierwagen
Part 5: Keezer collar
Part 6: Storage of the Bierwagen (this post)

Overview:

At first I was thinking I would completely disassemble the Bierwagen into it’s independent pieces, but then I’d have to reassemble it again next year.  The thing is huge, so I’ve got to put it somewhere and I am not parking outside and scraping ice this winter.  I thought about a few different options, but settled on storing under my deck.  All I would have to do is remove the panels and then I’d have a nice little nook to slide it into.

What to do:

First you need to get your keezer off of the Bierwagen of course.  Then you’ll need to remove the wheels and get them back on your bikes.

015-4 - Right wheel in place

Remove the legs (of course they are already off, since you unloaded the keezer).

015-6 - Reinstallation of legs 2

 

Then here is the next trick.  So that it takes up the least amount of space possible, I then re-attached the legs to the central section of the Bierwagen as shown in the pictures.

015-6 - Legs in place

Nice and flat and ready to go under my deck.

015-6 - Ready for storage

The first year for the Bierwagen, it was not painted.  I just covered it with some tarps underneath the deck and when I pulled it out, it did have some mold and mildew on it.  I just wiped the easy stuff off, then sprayed a water/bleach solution on it and left it out in the sun to dry and kill off the buggers.  For 2012, I decided to stain and seal it before the party.  When I pulled it out the next year, all it required was a little rinse with the hose and a dry in the sun again.  Good to go!

I know some of you will want to rub the thing down with some PBW followed with a soak in some Starsan!

The following pictures are actually from me pulling it out from underneath my deck this year.  The lower part of my deck is enclosed by more planks of decking.  I simply removed a section of them to slide the cart underneath.

015-6 - Resting area

 

It did ok this year, but the last minute rigging of strings did not hold the tarp in place.  I think this year, I’ll double it up and run some screws through it to keep it in place.

015-6 - waking up

015-6 - Ready for storage 2

The End…

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this project.  Please feel free to leave a comment or ask questions if you get stuck on your build.

Prost!

Posts for this Project:

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Building of the frame
Part 3: Bicycle wheel attachment
Part 4: Getting the keezer onto the Bierwagen
Part 5: Keezer collar
Part 6: Storage of the Bierwagen (this post)

Like this post?

Consider sharing on your favorite social hangout or making a small donation to help me purchase something to make another post.

 

Mein Bierwagen Part 5 – Keezer Collar

Everybody and their brother has some sort of DIY or build pictures of their keezer collar, so I’m not going to focus on the standard part of the build.

Difficulty: level_3

This project just requires some basic building skills, but you might need some help getting the keezer onto the Bierwagen.

Time Required:

About an afternoon, more for painting and how you wish to finish it.

Posts for this Project:

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Building of the frame
Part 3: Bicycle wheel attachment
Part 4: Getting the keezer onto the Bierwagen
Part 5: Keezer collar (this post)
Part 6: Storage of the Bierwagen

Overview:

Since my collar will only get used once a year, or at least not a permanent addition to my keezer, it just needed to be easily removed and disassembled.

Construction:

Going in, I knew that it would not be permanently assembled, so I did not use wood glue at the joints or caulk in the corners.  Yes, it is fairly inefficient to not seal it, but it stays cool just fine when it needs to.

I used 2×6 wood to create the border frame, but added some 2×4 posts that protrude down into the keezer interior to keep it from falling off.

015-4 - Collar upside down

015-4 - Collar installed 2

015-4 - Collar installed 1

I drilled the 3 holes with a wood boring bit.  I got one many years ago for finishing our basement and I’ve gotten lots of use out of it.  When using my corded hammer drill, it just rips right through wood.  In my opinion, they work much better than standard hole saws.  It may not leave as clean of a hole, but since the edges will be covered by the collar on the beer shank, I’m not to worried.

I used some large fender washers for the inside so that the nuts had a good solid surface to snug up against.  If you just snugged up to the wood, they most likely won’t tighten all the way and will pull into the wood.

Keg arrangement and interior:

Here is how I arrange the kegs in the keezer.  I’ll actually have 6 kegs at our party this year, so I’ll have to unceremoniously carry an extra keg from the garage fridge to the backyard.

I still need to desperately add a circulation fan to the interior.  I’ve got the fan, but have not yet mounted it.

Nothing novel here, I just used more deck screws to lightly hold the manifold to the back wall of the keezer.

015-4 - Collar with plumbing

Signage

Not only did I make tap handles for each beer, but I thought it would be nice to add some descriptions for each beer on tap and laminate them.  Most of our friends are now accustomed to “craft beer”, but I thought a little extra info couldn’t hurt.  You can see on this picture, the velcro strips I put on the collar to hold the signs up.  Yes, they are in different positions.  It is just my 2012 to 2013 changes in position for the signs.

015-4 - Keezer with collar

And the signs in action

015-1 Roll out the Bierwagen

Here are my signs by the way.

The Strausstoberfest is the house offering

015-4 Strausstoberfest label

The Dunkel Side was a favorite last year

015-4 The Dunkel Side label

Catcher in the Rye was my Rye PA, but will be replaced by a lower ABV Cream Ale at the party this year

015-4 Catcher in the Rye label

Temp Controller

I then mounted my Ranco controller on the back and remounted the hinges onto the collar.  I did not use the screws that were used on the freezer itself, but rather some longer sheet metal screws that held just fine in the wood.

015-1 Ranco mounted on back

Disassembly and storage:

Here is my method, which may serve as a guide for how you store yours (if you don’t make it permanent).  Disassemble the collar whichever way you need to.

I then actually just ended up using the exact same screws that held the collar together to attach them to the interior wall of my garage.  It’s actually behind where I store my keezer, so it’s not in the way and plus by attaching them to the wall, it keeps them up off the ground.

015-4 Collar stored on wall

Up next…

How to store the Bierwagen (if you don’t have tons of room)

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Consider sharing on your favorite social hangout or making a small donation to help me purchase something to make another post.