University professor 3D prints a spirit still

Jul 5, 2017by Kristiane Sherry

Design engineer and Lund University professor Olaf Diegel has created a desktop-sized spirit still made entirely from a 3D printing process – the "ultimate executive give-away".

The still is made from aluminium through a process called selective laser melting, where a laser is used to trace the design onto aluminium powder, melting the power and forming a layer of the design. This process is repeated and unmelted power vacuumed away for reuse, leaving behind the still. In Diegel’s design, the still body, including the mash pot, cold water tank and condensing spiral is all printed as one component. An additional cap for the mash pot is printed separately. Wh ile the design uses aluminium, Diegel thinks copper could be used in theory. The still measures just 117mm x 58mm x 66mm and was created as a gift for a friend, and to meet a brief from Sweden-based metal manufacturing firm Lasertech. “The candles that are in the pictures did not provide enough heat to boil the mash in the pot, so I ended up using a little white spirit burner from a fondue set,” Diegel told The Spirits Business. “On the cold water side, I just put ice cubes to cool down the coil, and collected the ice run-off on a second little container that sat beneath the still, and the alcohol dripped directly into a shot glass.” Diegel adds that he does not expect his invention to have any impact on the distilling sector, as the technology remains expensive. “Having said that, because you can make extremely complex shapes that would just not be possible to make by bending pipe, for example, it may be possible to use the technology to manufacture more efficient cooling coils to condense the alcohol faster,” he explains.