Evolution of the Coaster
Posted 03.06.2019 by Kitty Costello
We always find it interesting when you stumble across a forgotten object that was part of a development process. It’s usually a dusty, discarded prototype piece that didn’t turn out quite right and now appears a bit crude and half-baked when held up next to what was finally arrived at. As we were going through some boxes yesterday, we ran across some versions of the coaster that were experiments to figure out the best way to make an idea a reality.
Here’s an early concept we toyed around with. These would have been machined from a solid piece of stock and manufactured on a CNC mill.
The second version, which was a real physical prototype, has now become circular instead of squared off. These samples are still machined from a solid piece of stock with these being made from brass, copper and anodized aluminum. This whole concept ended up being too expensive.
In this third version we looked into having a custom profile roll formed and then welded to make a ring, which would then have a sheet metal disc placed in the center. The epoxy fill would then bond the assembly together. The quantities required to make this feasible were in the thousands, above what we wanted to do.
Finally, we decided metal spinning made the most sense in terms of cost and flexibility. We also found the process fascinating. This picture shows an early version of a spun metal coaster (4” diameter) that was deemed to small next to the version we make today (4 1/2” diameter), which required a second round of tooling to be made.The internal ring detail from the machined version returns on the 4 1/2” version to make it more visually interesting by delineating a field for a second color. More importantly, the earlier ring-less version showed us that condensation would drip down and collect to form a seal at the bottom of the glass, meaning that the coaster would stay attached to the glass when it was lifted and then fall off into your lap. So the ring had a secondary purpose in that it created a small gap that acted as a “vacuum break” to solve the problem.