Time for the next instalment of how I made the Motorhead beerbuddy. This time I’ll be talking about prototyping and getting the whole thing into production.
I made the first mould from the clay model using my usual method of a silicone skin supported by a GRP jacket. From this I cast the first resin master. This was an exact replica of the clay model including tool marks, finger prints and all of the other minor defects which weren’t that apparent on the clay model, but were now glaringly obvious.
The resin mix is pretty much like car body filler, so when set, it’s rock hard but can be worked with files and power tools. I also cast one in aluminium finish, which when polished made every imperfection stand out like a sore thumb, and I used this as my reference.
Then began the very slow and meticulous task of grinding and filing away the flaws. It’s a funny thing working with clay, because you feel that you have got everything spot on until you reproduce it in another medium. I’ve done this process so many times that I should by rights no longer be surprised at the amount of refinement still required before I can sign a piece off for production, but I always am. I looked at it and realised I still had a long way to go.
The first bit was to flat everything back with a series of tungsten burrs in a high speed Dremel. This took care of all of the tool marks and ridges. After that it was hand files and a lot of wet/dry paper before hand-polishing. It’s a pretty tedious process, but I must confess I quite enjoy it. Get some coffee on the go, music playing and the hours just fly by lol. Eventually I was happy that I had got it to the level of finish I was after and it was time to grow back some fingerprints and road test it.
This involves attaching the metal insert which actually opens the bottle and testing it by opening beer bottles of every conceivable size and shape. I know, I know, it sounds like a real drag, but it’s one of those jobs that just HAS to be done and I selflessly put myself up as the man for the job.
When I was happy with everything I sent the master off to the factory for production samples and then turned my attention to the packaging. Starting with blank versions of our standard open packing I mocked up the lettering and general layout.
Obviously it was going to look as close to the debut album cover as possible, but we also had to include addition text & the Global marketing logo and I didn’t want it looking too cluttered. Around this time it was suggested that we might use a box with a window instead, as we expected to sell most of them via mail order and a box would offer more protection in transit than the open packaging. In addition this was a cheaper option, which was good because the actual piece had proven to be a fair bit more expensive to manufacture than we had expected and we were keen to try to keep the price in the realms of sanity. The window box samples duly arrived and we hated them! There was way too much plastic involved and this is a big deal for us. We do try to keep our packaging as recyclable as possible and having two large pieces of moulded transparent plastic going out to every customer did not sit well with me. Also the overall effect made it look like a toy and it was impossible to photograph. I said nothing and sent them to Global to get their verdict. They were of the same opinion, so it was back to the original open packaging albeit more fiddly and costly. It did look the biz though. We settled on the black and white open packaging and it finally went into production.