Grabbing a Spin-Chilled Cold One


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SpinChill is a device that cools a beverage at least 20 times more quickly than ice. Image: SpinChill

Mechanical engineer Ty Parker was stopping off to buy food and beer one day, when he found the wrong one of the two was distastefully warm.

Then his thoughts ran cold.

“I did some calculations and it showed how fast beer could get cold if you did convection from spinning as opposed to not,” says the 25-year old, who received his mechanical engineering degree from the University of Florida.

But could he turn this into a workable prototype? “I bought a drill and a bunch of duct tape, ripped it [a chiller] all apart and made a waterproof spinning mechanism that would stay cold without having a hand on it,” says Parker. “For the clip part, my business partner and I looked for something like a beer koozie. It would hold the can and at the same time have to cut it. It would expose most of the can but still held it so it would allow it to spin.” He finally decided to go with a six-pack holder with hard plastic rings that clipped onto the top of the can. “I cut one out and then worked it with the drill so it would spin when the drill turned out,” he says.

SpinChilling is based on a mixing phenomenon known as convection, which allows the warm liquid in a can to be cooled instantly. Image: SpinChill

In a competition, he demonstrated its effectiveness. Two cans at approximately 75-80 degrees were both stuck in ice, one spinning, the other stationary. After a minute, the spinner was freezing cold and, just as importantly, wasn’t fizzing. “People were definitely impressed,” Parker says.

Then it was time to try to manufacture. “We wanted something else to spin it instead of a waterproof spinning device, because that would be expensive,” he says. “We had MakerBot 3D printer access so we started printing what would go on top of the can. What resulted was too brittle, but I knew how to make molds in SolidWorks. Instead of 3D printing the part, I 3D printed the molds and then used a two-part rubber and poured that into the molds. Half of them were worthless but half of them worked. We wandered around NASCAR events and construction sites to find people who would have drills. They tested it out and said they would buy it,” Parker adds.

SpinChill inventors Ty Parker (left) and Trevor Abbott. Image: SpinChill

 

 

 

 

Still, despite the positive feedback, they heard complaints that it didn’t work on bottles. This led to incorporating a bottle cap clip into the center of the device—now it clips on bottles from a center ring and onto cans with an outer ring. “It can even spin a wine bottle or champagne bottle,” he says. “It even spins big forty ounce beers.”

Possible future improvements include adjusting for bars so a bartender could chill down many beers at one time. Still, so far the product, known as “SpinChill,” has sold 8,000 units.

“One of the coolest things from the experience is you learn about finance, graphic design, psychology, so many things,” he says. “You get to be surprised by what works. It’s also fun when we’ve had people ask us if we know the SpinChill people. We just smile and say, ‘Yeah, we know them.’”

Instead of 3D printing the part, I 3D printed the molds and then used a two-part rubber and poured that into the molds.

Ty Parker, SpinChill inventor

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October 2014

by Eric Butterman, ASME.org