As regular readers will know, professor of product development at Lund University, Sweden, Olaf Diegel has a history of pushing the limits of additive manufacturing – from stunning guitars to intricate saxophones and ornate instrument enclosures. His latest challenge was to design something for the man who has everything, and he came up with an executive gift in the shape of a desktop distillery called the iStill.

When Diegel was asked to design the ultimate give-away for executives by a metal additive manufacturing company, he opted to create "something slightly politically incorrect just for the sheer fun of it."

He challenged himself to come up with a design that used no support material, other than what was needed to fix it to the build plate during printing. This was to cut down on laborious post-processing and to minimize waste – with some companies estimating that 70 percent of the cost of metal additive manufacturing can be eaten up in pre- and post-processing.

His solution was to use angular features sparingly, fill in the gaps between the spiral pipes and make supporting walls part of the design. The aluminum iStill measures 117 mm long, 58 mm wide and 66 mm high (4.6 x 2.3 x 2.6 in) and no feature has an angle of more than 45 degrees.

After printing, the mini distillery simply needed to be separated from the base plate and finished. He built a little table for it to stand on, fired up a tea light candle and set it off. So does it actually work?

"Yes, it does work," he told us. "I only tested it with some wine in the pot. I had the pot half-full of wine, so maybe just over a shot-glass worth of wine in the pot, and that distilled to about 5 mm to 10 mm of alcohol in shot glass (which, I confess, I was not brave enough to taste)."

But the tea light just didn't cut it for heat production, so Diegel used a mini white spirit burner from a fondue set instead. The iStill has now been packaged up in a presentation box and sent to Terry Wohlers of Colorado-based additive manufacturing consulting firm Wohlers Associates to try out.

Source: Olaf Diegel

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