Thursday 9 June 2022

Custom 3D Printed Beer Tap Decals

We're fortunate to have access to a 3D Printer as well as CAD software - so after purchasing a couple of beer decal holders to attach to the taps of our kegerator we figured we'd have a go at designing and printing some beer tap decals ourselves.

As brewers, we are certainly inclined to creating things ourselves. There's a certain sense of satisfaction gained from crafting such things. We'll be the first to admit that although we're happy with the results of our mini project, it is far from perfect and there are some things we'll look at tweaking and adjusting for future decals - in particular some of the gaps in the 3D print.

For our first decal, we decided to make one for our upcoming brew of the Alfajor Biscuit Ale fresh wort kit from All Inn Brewing Co.

Once you've tinkered with CAD programs like Fusion 360 for a while, the process for creating becomes fairly easy and straight forward. Create a sketch and draw a circle with a 73mm diameter (to match the diameter of the decal holder). Create another circle with a diameter of 71mm (to create a 1mm border all the way around). Then import a copy of the All Inn Brewing Co logo and create a SVG for the "Alfajor Biscuit Ale" text and import it as well.

Our beer tap decal design in Fusion 360

Then, perform an extrude on the sketch elements to raise them up and make them 3D. The base of the print is 2mm thick. The outer circle border and text are raised a further 2mm up, meaning the total depth is 4mm. It doesn't need to be any thicker than this as it's simply a decal.

Also, when 3D printing text, thick and bold fonts work much better than cursive fonts so try and stick with fonts like these where possible.

We then printed using a single colour on a Makerbot 3D printer. If you could be bothered you could change the filament colour part way through the print to achieve a 2 tone effect between the background colour and the text colour.

Our first 3D printed beer tap decal for the All Inn Brewing Co Alfajor Biscuit Ale fresh wort kit

We were happy with the result so far, but still wanted that 2 tone effect to really make the text stand out. As previously mentioned, you could change the filament in your 3D printer part way through to achieve this. We went for the easy option though and simply used a black sharpie style marker to colour in the text and the outer 1mm border.

Our custom decal with text coloured in with black sharpie

This made a big difference as you can see from the image above - particularly on the larger font on the lower half of the decal. There are some gaps in the characters for the "All Inn Brewing Co" logo which was disappointing. We'll look at adjusting our 3D print settings in the future to hopefully correct this, or otherwise may look at using some kind of modelling putty to help fill in the gaps for future decals.

Custom beer tap decal installed on the decal holder

To adhere the decal to the holder, we simply used some blu-tack which will hopefully be sufficient to keep it in place. This may be an issue in the hotter summer months as our kegerator is kept in the garage that can get quite hot - and we've seen blu-tack 'melt' before, but we'll wait and see.

Below you can see the finished result installed on the taps. We may look at moving/removing some of the stickers from the fridge door to help the decals stand out a little more.

We found having the decal holders sitting perfectly upright meant they were barely visible/noticeable behind the tap handles, so we opted to have them angled in towards the centre of the fridge door as you can see from the photo below.

Beer tap holders and decals installed on our 2 tap kegerator

We like the fact that we'll be able to keep these custom decals forever as a souvenir of sorts for all beers that we brew. We're not sure exactly what we'll do with them but we'll definitely come up with something rather than just throwing them in a box once they're done.

Let us know what you think and what you guys have done for beer related 3D printers or tap decals.

We used 73mm Chrome Decal Holders available from KegLand. They also have an 82mm model available as well.

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