May 15, 2014

The PuckOpener - How it's Made

By David Sheffield

I went to school for mechanical engineering so I can talk for hours about how things are made, assembly procedures, and manufacturing processes. Luckily my web designer convinced me not to dive too deep into that in the product descriptions, but he can't tell me what to do in my first blog post. 

I thoroughly enjoy the process of going from an idea to a finished product. It's always a curvy road, half of your assumptions about how things will work get destroyed. I'd go home after a 10 hour day wondering what I accomplished except finding 5 more ways not to do something. But I kept at it and along with the failures came little steps forward. The best part of this project was the amount of beer I've gone through in the past 4 months. I had to extensively test these openers. 

The Puck

My pucks are made in Slovokia, screen-printed in Canada, and finally machined by me here in Buffalo, NY. A hockey puck is made out of vulcanized rubber. Vulcanized just means they add something to the rubber to make it less sticky and harder, most rubber everybody uses these days is vulcanized in some way. It's surprisingly very machinable as long as you have a sharp tool bit.

The ShopBot

The ShopBot Desktop CNC Router is probably one of the coolest things I've ever purchased. It has a 24" x 18" table and can cut up to 3-3.5" inches in the vertical direction. That software that comes with it is so easy to use, I've been telling people that if they can use MS Paint they can use the ShopBot. That said, I did drive the bit right into the aluminum baseplate the first time I used the machine. I ripped the plug out of the wall and for a moment I thought I had already ruined the machine I just dropped $6k on. Maybe I should have read the directions first. 

I use the ShopBot to machine the cutouts in the puck. I can fit a good number of pucks in the machine, let the program run, and work on things like stamping and assembly. 

The Opener Plate

I designed the particular shape of the opener plate so it could be used no matter how you picked up the puck. Some bottle openers require you to only use the opener in one direction. The pieces themselves are laser cut. The material is 304 Grade Brushed Stainless Steel. I use a hand stamp to stamp the pucks with "Buffalo BottleCraft" and "Patent Pending".

The Assembly

With the puck machined and the opener plate stamped I'm ready for assembly. Before I insert the opener plate I throw in a countersunk magnet, this catches the cap when opening a beer. Otherwise the cap goes flying off onto the table or the floor. After the magnet comes the opener plate which is attached by 4 philips head screws. I probably could have gotten away with two but I didn't want to take any chances. Plus the pattern of 4 screws, along with the stamped text ended up looking pretty good in terms of design, at least in my opinion.

The PuckOpener

That pretty much sums it up. Check out the GIF below to see it in action.