Main Project Inspiration

For my main project I am planning on designing a beer tap handle that has some dynamic lighting functionality to it. Recently at my internship I worked on a project where I was tasked to prototype various methods of producing a lighting effect for a surgical device. One method that didn’t work perfectly for the application, but I found interest in, was using flexible fiber optic tubing as light piping.

Flexible PMMA tubing used for transferring light from LEDS to produce glowing effects

Having some experience with producing these lighting effects, I’ve been searching for some inspiration on what design could incorporate this aesthetic. One thing that I found would be an interesting way to incorporate it would be a weeping willow tree. The Tree of Souls in the movie Avatar came to mind and I think this method would be a great way to produce a similar effect in a physical product.

The Tree of Souls in the movie Avatar is an alien version of a weeping willow tree

This past week I pitched to the CU Boulder Innovation Seed Funding group, where I was awarded funding to purchase a dual extruder for my 3D printer. What I would love to do with these capabilities is incorporate conductive filament into a 3D printed tap handle. This would allow me to incorporate a battery and integrated LEDs into the handle. The below sketch is a cross section of what I am thinking about doing to incorporate the electronics.

Sketch of incorporating electronics into tap handle

The handle will screw apart to allow for insertion/replacement of the battery, and the conductive filament will complete the circuit of the battery to the board of LEDs. To control them I will use a small Arduino microcontroller. The handle body will be printed and stained in woodfill PLA to give it a more natural feel.

This will definitely be a significant undertaking for design and assembly, but I think it is feasible and I am looking forward to finishing it!

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Fatema Alhalal
    March 3, 2019 4:17 pm

    Wow! That’s a really cool idea. I think it would be great if you present your final project with more than one beer with different design and colors! Arduino can provide about 9 Volts other than the original 5 Volts and I think that will help you. Good Luck!

  • Joshua Engmorris
    March 2, 2019 10:41 am

    Chris, this is a super cool idea. I like the use of leds and fiber optics to create a very unique, almost alien aesthetic. I think it would look really good like those trees in Avatar. Any breweries in particular you are designing this around? Maybe if you pick a beer you like that fits the aesthetic your envisioning or make up a quick beer brand to design around it might be easier to flesh out your design with a brand image to work with.


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