Design Review Report: Beer Tap Handle

For my final project, I have been working to create a beer tap handle that will incorporate a dynamic lighting effect. To achieve this lighting effect, I have purchased an Adafruit Neopixel ring and an Adafruit trinket Arduino microcontroller to control the lighting effect.

Adafruit Neopixel LED ring – includes 12 RGB LEDs within a 1.5″ diameter ring

My main constraint going into this project though is the aesthetic. I decided that I would like to create the tap handle to conform to the aesthetic of a beer brand, which could be an actual brand or one I choose to create. As of right now, my best running idea is a beer called Lava Lamp Lager, and I will work to create a tap handle that recreates the aesthetic of a lava lamp. I am open to suggestions though, as I would enjoy creating a handle for an actual beer but have had a hard time finding ones without existing tap handle designs.

To create this lava lamp effect, I think incorporating the light to make the lava glow will be the source of my dynamic lighting. For optimal optical clarity, utilizing a resin mold for the body of the lamp will be the best method, and I will insert some object (possibly 3D printed shapes) to give the illusion of the lava flowing through the lamp. Once I model the body of the lamp, I will print it utilizing the resin printers in the ITLL to create a smooth mold for the resin.

My biggest technical challenge will be the incorporated electronics. I have purchased conductive filament for my 3D printer and a dual extrusion kit for the ability to build electrical connections into my printed parts. The biggest struggle will be ensuring that the electronics are functional and safe within the handle, as it will be at risk to exposure to liquids during its use. The two options I am thinking of to mitigate this risk are:

  1. Coating the parts in the resin used to create the lamp mold, as it will create a seal around the part. I have used this method before to create a waterproof seal on a printed mug so I am familiar with the process
  2. Printing the parts in ABS and utilizing acetone vapor smoothing to create a seal on the parts. ABS reacts to acetone in a way that partially degrades the plastic in a “melting” way, allowing the parts to smooth over the layer lines and create a waterproof seal. I have never utilized this method before, so it may be a risk to undertake something new.

Overall I think I’m at a good place with my design, the trouble will be the execution. I am looking forward to the challenge and sharing my design!

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11 Comments. Leave new

  • Hogan Auyeung
    March 31, 2019 6:26 pm

    I like how you continued the tap handle idea from the previous project. This will be very different from the original project and it will serve a more functional purpose. I’m excited to see the final results and possibly use it!

  • Danielle Glanville
    March 18, 2019 6:25 pm

    This is a really cool idea! It’s really unique and seems like you’ll get a lot of use out of it. I particularly like the lighting aspect, as I am doing something similar. Good luck!

  • Great idea and project. It will definitely be a challenge to pull off, but that is good. I’m excited to see it! I think there could really be a market for this if you wanted to pursue the idea further! Great work so far!

  • Fatema Alhalal
    March 15, 2019 1:26 pm

    Great idea. I think molding will be challenging but really fun to do! I think you will be able to find video instructions easily. I think since you’re using 3D printer, you may want to use the one in the idea forge instead of the ITLL. Good Luck!

  • Christopher,

    The weeping willow idea is quite fascinating, but I agree that this is quite advanced. The molding and ABS chemical interaction sound very cool though. I think posting the process of the various iterations would be interesting. I am excited to see how this turns out.

  • The dynamic lighting effect is fascinating when it attached on a Beer Tap. I wonder if you can create a function to control the lighting.

  • I like this idea! I’ve never seen a glowing beer tap handle! This will be very cool and maybe you can turn it into a commercial product in the future if it works out. Can’t wait to see the final product!

  • Joshua Engmorris
    March 15, 2019 1:23 pm

    Chris, I’d love to try your lava lamp lager. I think you should try the acetone vapor melting. It creates a nice, different surface texture and you could probably test it out with a different print first so you don’t mess up your final project. I like your use of many different processes (3D printing, mold making, epoxy casting, and surface texturing) to create this.

  • Interesting idea. Mold making seems like it will be tough to do but very cool. Are you going to be using silicone mold or which material?

  • Hadeel Al Gallaf
    March 15, 2019 1:22 pm

    I like the inspiration from lava lamps. That’s really creative. It is clear that you have put a lot of thought into this project. Have your thoughts what kind of shape you’ll have the mold in? I’m excited to see the final results!

  • Taylor Whittemore
    March 14, 2019 11:37 am

    Christopher, This idea is so exciting. I hope that it turns out well. I was wondering how you planned to use the tap in your house and if you are actually planning on keeping it full.


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