Bringing together 3D scanning, 3D printing, a local artist, and craft beer, last night Columbus, Ohio hosted a Tap Takeover — and the easiest decision I’ve made to accept an invitation in ages. While the involved individuals and organizations came together last night to celebrate successful 3D printed beer taps made from 3D scans of 20 Columbus brewmasters, this use isn’t any of their primary focus: but they did note that it was definitely a fun one, and for a good cause.
A few months ago, the team from Columbus-based Knockout Concepts, a 3D scanning software company, thought of the fun idea to create a custom tap handle for a friend who owned a brewery. From there, the concept quickly took on a life of its own as they engaged their community. The team from Knockout Concepts reached out to IC3D and to Fred Lee from Actual Brewing, as well as local artist Kendric Tonn with their idea. Soon, the initial plan snowballed.
“It was a cool project that suddenly became oh sh–, now we’re working with every brewery,” Brandon Gell, Marketing and Making at Knockout Concepts, told me. “Obviously the next thing right now is what’s the next material, the next medium. And now we’re throwing back to classical painting instead. What could be better?”
Knockout Concepts, as COO Jacob Kuttothara, MD, explained, is a mobile 3D scanning software company offering real time, Android-based, all-in-one 3D scanning solutions including their KS1 3D scanner. The company typically focuses on the capabilities of human-centered design, tailoring uses to applications in the educational and medical markets, as well as in makerspaces.
“We’re also big fans of the Midwest, of Columbus. This project brings the community together. When you think of it, microbreweries are all about customization, too, and so are 3D technologies,” Kuttothara told me.
While we’ve seen beer and 3D printing come together before, including some inventive 3D printed beer taps, we haven’t seen anything quite on the scale of involvement at the Tap Takeover. As more breweries and partners became involved, the project looked next to another aspect important to their Columbus community: giving back. The tap handles ultimately are being used as a fundraising venture for two local Franklinton schools in order to expand their use of technology. Money raised through selling the 20 created taps will be donated to the schools in order to allow for the purchase of more technology to give students hands-on experience.
“This is all what makes Columbus Columbus,” Gell said of the sense of community involved in the project. “Having your own handle with the people making the beer — it’s a beautiful thing. And working together: IC3D makes the best filament we’ve ever used, and they’re just great to work with. Kendric is a classically trained Columbus artist who painted all the handles, and he did a great job.”
While the entire event was a bit of a departure from business as usual for each of the involved parties, their coming together in a community-based project tightened their relationships with one another, underscoring the importance of a supportive network in arts and technology.
“This isn’t what Knockout’s business model is, so it’s cool to do this, and that we all used our own technology to do this,” Knockout Concepts’ CEO, S. Brooks Myers, told me. “There’s a real sense of community. Franklinton has been seeing a lot of gentrification for years now, but it’s coming into its own as a real, artistic community. We’re the first tech company in Franklinton; it’s a great maker community and we’re connecting with the community and all those who work with technology. This type of project really educates and inspires those who wonder what you can do with 3D printing.”
Having the chance to chat with the others behind this project over a pint (of, yes, very good craft beer) was a highlight of the evening for me. Michael Cao, CEO of IC3D, founded the company in 2012 and for the first four years ran it as a side project while he continued his day job working with Honda designing automotive interiors. Full-time focused on IC3D since last year, Cao notes that they primarily manufacture filament, and additionally offer 3D printing services. He had built RepRap 3D printers for fun for some time, and his search for the perfect filament ultimately led to creating his own. The company — also behind the materials in some impressive cosplay creations we saw recently — now has about a 10-person team, and has partnered with the Ohio State University to work on 3D printing tooling applications, working to understand ways to reduce costs and lead times in manufacturing.
“I’ve known Jake (Kuttothara) and Brooks (Myers) for a while now,” Cao told me of his involvement in the project. “We met about five years ago at a local 3D printing meeting, became friends, and went from there. 3D scanning and 3D printing go together well. This all took off from a lunch meeting. 3D printing is built to be easy; IC3D has a vertical structure, so that keeps costs low. Doing these types of side projects, especially for charity, is awesome. We’d love to do more with more companies for charity and hope to talk about that soon.”
Working with materials and 3D printers — their biggest FDM machine has a build volume of one cubic meter — and looking toward larger, industrial applications, IC3D is focusing on growth in the consumables market, where they offer ABS, PLA, and Nylon filament.
“Some people say don’t get high off your own supply,” Cao mused. “We totally get high off our own supply, and use our own consumables.”
While Knockout Concepts and IC3D focus regularly on 3D technologies, for artist Kendric Tonn this was altogether a different type of project and a bit of departure from his focus on fine arts. Tonn, known for painting figures and still life scenes using, most often, oil paints, turned to existing 3D models and acrylic paints for the beer taps. You can see some of his tap painting process here.
“I’ve known Jake a long time,” Tonn told me. “He approached me a few months ago about this project. Production took about one and a half to two months. Each figure was about three to four hours to paint, though I worked on several simultaneously.”
Tonn has a solo show opening on March 10th at Columbus’ Brandt-Roberts Galleries, which he’s been working on for about a year. The show will feature figure paintings and still life. Any taps that were not auctioned off at last night’s event will be available for sale to the public following the opening.
Breweries and brewmasters featured on the taps included:
Vic Gonzales – Pigskin Brewing
- Larry – Fourstring
- Craig – Sideswipe
- Beau Warren – Brew Brothers
- Dan Griffin – Gordon Borsch
- Chris – Wolfridge Brewing
- Carey Hall – Lineage Brewing
- Colin Vent – Seventh Son
- Adam – Landgrant
- Alex Kolada – Commonhouse Ale
- Angelo – Barley’s Brewing
- Chris – Zaftig
- Fred Lee – Actual Brewing
- Geoff – Zauber
- Lenny Kolada – Smokehouse Brewing
- Robert – Haufbrau
- Tim Ward – North High Brewing
- Tom – Ill Mannered
- Vic – Elevator Brewing
- Matthew – Rockmill Brewing
Last night’s event is being lauded as a big success, having raised more than $5,000 for charity with more than 90 people having RSVPed in advance to the event held at Barley’s Brewing Company.
“We couldn’t be happier with how the event turned out. Over $5k was raised and will be donated to Franklinton’s Avondale Elementary and Starling Jr. High School. Kendric Tonn, the painter, has a show opening March 10th at Brandt-Roberts Galleries. There will be a beer tasting and showing of the tap handles at the gallery on March 18th,” Gell notes following the event.
I’d say it was also a success in so far as showcasing some of the flavor of the local community and illustrating an offbeat, yet practical, application for 3D scanning and 3D printing as they come together with the scene in Columbus. The collaborative effort behind the Tap Takeover event can be seen further in this video from Knockout Concepts showcasing the project:
[All photos: Sarah Goehrke for 3DPrint.com]