Introduction: 3D Printed Mustache Beer Tap Handle

About: Just love making things.. I wish I had space to do it but everything you see was made in my 600sf One Bedroom Condo!

Just in time for Movember!

My good friend recently opened an Italian Pizza & Pasta restaurant and named it Mr. Ciao (the restaurant is actually in the Chinatown area of the city so the name is a bit of a fun play on words). The logo for the restaurant is the name with a large bushy "Italian" mustache. They have a bunch of local beers on tap (as well as red & white wine and a hard cider). They also have a "house" beer on tap, they do not make it themselves but it is sold at a discount and may change from time to time. But like any brand of beer they needed a tap handle so that customers could see what was available. As most breweries are getting fancy with their beer taps we wanted our tap to stand out as much as possible. We figured the best way to do that would be to incorporate the mustache logo as prominently as possible.

While I do not expect many people to have to build mustache beer taps the concepts can be used to do custom trophies, unique gifts, etc. the concept is basically taking an existing generic object and using 3D printing technology to make it totally unique.

Step 1: Donor Tap Handle

To print a complete tap handle would get very expensive and in reality on most taps it is just the "head" that is custom. Taking this into account I decided to use a "donor" tap handle and just modify it to make it unique and custom.

One thing about a bar with many beers on tap is that they always have extra handles laying around. Some beers are seasonal or were just tried for a short time or even the beer company changing the tap styles and sending new ones. I browsed through their collection and found a perfect black tap handle in a vey traditional style. It was glossy black ceramic with a removable metal finial screwed on the top and an oval label plate on the front. I peeled off the old label and sized their logo to the size and shape of the front plate. My local print shop printed the logo on glossy adhesive paper so that I could manually cut it out and attach it to the tap. I had extras printed on the sheet just incase I messed up the installation.

Step 2: 3D Design

1) Starting with a pdf of the logo I copied the mustache into CorelDraw as a image. I then traced the image manually as it was fairly simple and I find the auto trace function does not always produce clean results.

2) I exported the flat vector of the mustache outline into a format that SketchUp could understand and pasted the mustache as a 2D object.

3) I sized the object to be 4" wide as that is the max width I could have on the row of tap handles.

4) Using the "Extrude" tool I pushed the mustache into a 3D object estimating what I thought would be visually a good thickness.

5) I then drew a circle under the mustache and using the Extrude tool again created a cylinder that ended inside the mustache (had to try this several times as it needed to be centered and perpendicular to the mustache.

6) Within this cylinder I drew another circle and extruded it through to create a hole in the base so that I could attach the mustache to the donor tap handle.

7) I then exported the 3D drawing in a ".dae" format that was compatible with Shapeways.

8) Shapeways has specific object requirements based on the material chosen. I wanted the mustache to be black glossy ceramic as that would match the tap handle perfectly. When I uploaded the object it informed me that the "sharp points" at the bottom of the mustache needed to be rounded to 3mm in order to print correctly.

9) Back in SketchUp I used the curve tool to draw a curve by each sharp point and then used the extrude tool to remove the excess "material" by pushing it down into a 2D plane and then deleting the final line. (Sorry I did not get screen caps of this it was trail and error and I was concerned about creating the object and not thinking of documenting it. If you would like more detail let me know and I will reproduce the steps and screen print it).

10) Finally exported the revised object and it passed Shapeways internal automated tests. I then chose the material and color and ordered a "print". Based on the material and size the cost was just over $30 which I thought was a good deal. After a couple of weeks I was notified that the file passed a manual inspection and was in the production queue.

11) A month later I received the final ceramic mustache in the mail. (Wait time is long but it was very good quality and I am sure as the process matures the turn around time will speed up. What would be good is if I had my own 3D printer so that I could quickly prototype and even create final objects without having to wait 45 days to get it made externally.)

You can buy the Mustache directly from Shapeways here:

Step 3: Mustache Is Delivered!

After a long wait the mustache was delivered! It came out better than I had expected. I loved the slight imperfections and ripples in the ceramic which gave it a very organic feel. The only small issue was that the hole in the bottom turned out to be more of a 1/2 inch divot and I was wanting it to go all the way through.

This did not affect the build much at all I just made sure I used super strong 2-part epoxy and roughed up the inside a bit with sandpaper to get good adhesion. To attach the mustache to the Tap handle I used a Dremel to cut the top of the finial off and then sanded the cut tip to size it so that it would fit in the mustache hole perfectly. This way once the mustache was epoxied to the finial base it could be screwed on exactly as the old finial. This also gave it a nice chrome collar around the top. Once everything was ready I mixed the epoxy, set everything in place and taped the mustache to the handle so that nothing moved until the epoxy cured.

Step 4: The End...

All that is left is for the tap to take its rightful place of honor on the row of beer. As you can see it really stands out with the height and crisp black & white logo. Everyone was extremely happy with the outcome and beer sales are up!

I would love to win the Form 1+ 3D printer in the FormLabs contest, I love creating unique things for people and 3D printing allows me to combine that traditional objects and restoration methods with modern technology to accomplish things that would be impossible other wise like the 3D printed pedals on my vintage tricycle restoration: I am limited right now in that I have to send out my designs to be printed and if I make a mistake I have to wait weeks or even months to get it redone.

Formlabs Contest

Participated in the
Formlabs Contest