Spherical ice has become a growing trend in the last few years because of the rising awareness that it lasts longer and dilutes your drink less. However, the practicality of the process of making them is what keeps then from mainstream use. Most molds are either expensive, time consuming, or both.
Our Patent Pending design may be the first to solve all of these problems. By shifting the dimension in one direction and connecting the cavities together, many more ice balls can be made a lot faster.
Stacking the mold cavities vertically allows you to fill them all at once instead of one at a time, and the two sides of the mold, oriented vertically, are designed to simply seal and snap apart in one motion which allows them to be opened and closed easily. Through this process we've been able to make more ice balls at a time, and do something else that no other spherical mold can do. We can make them in LARGE quantities!
With the vertical stack design, any size ice ball can be made more efficiently, in less time. They also make, in general, a rounder, more quality sphere shaped ball than most competitors we've tested.
Spheres on left were made one at a time with two separate molds. It took four days to make eight Balls. The Hailstones were made in one day, with one mold. The competitors can make some very round balls as well, but not as consistently.
The Hailstonez Billiard Baller.
The most popular Spherical ice is the "Whiskey Ball", for connoisseurs that like their liquor cold and undiluted. Usually only one Ice ball is necessary, and they last a long time. This one makes eight at a time. The most any other competitor can make can make that we've seen is four. Most molds make one at a time, and because they are predominantly made from silicone, the Ice Balls tend to be irregularly shaped.
They are offered at very few establishments because they are still costly and time consuming to make. That is one of the things that we are hoping to change.
We have gone through many iterations of the design in order to work out the flaws.
The first few were not of uniform thickness which via the injection molding process would create bends and divots in the shape due to uneven cooling of the plastic. The tooling of the Aluminum mold would have required two cavities in order to make both sides of the Ice mold.
Keep in mind that the above design is for a much smaller Ice Ball. The concept is the same however. Through the design process we eventually figured out how to make a universal part that has both male and female connectors. In other words, both sides of the mold are now COMPLETELY IDENTICAL. This universal part can now snap into another identical part.
When your injection mold has to be tooled out of SOLID ALUMINUM, this is a huge advance and has reduced the tooling cost by almost a half. This is what they look like when fit together:
Likewise, We have evened out the thickness of the design as uniform as necessary so that it cools evenly in the injection molding process and produces a perfect part every time.
The mold is sealed with a sealing grove around the edge that prevents water from escaping while it is standing up. In the groove is a Flexible FDA compliant silicone O ring cord that is designed to account for any expansion due to the ice freezing.
The seal is the most important part of the mold and the part I am most proud of. The newest versions of the mold are built around the seal and not the other way around.
This Mold will be constructed as well from a BPA Free Polypropylene. It has been Chosen for its FDA compliance, water resistance, stiffness and flexibility, and it's resistance to the cold.
Discoveries Since Prototyping
Since the testing of the prototypes , I have found three ways to improve the molds:
First, the mold was hard to open because it had too many snapping parts. I have figured out a way to make it with two snaps instead of four. This not only makes for a simpler design, but makes it much easier to open. There are less parts to break as well.
Second, the prototype itself had a tendency to bow in the middle, making it leak over time. I realized that it needed to be able to seal on the bottom as well, so I have added a tongue and groove mechanism on the bottom that will give a nice even pressure seal along the long axis of the mold. As you can see it is also designed to be universal.
When they fit together, it makes mold much more stable, as shown from the bottom in this photorealistic render:
We've found that this works very well as I have tested it in the design of the Billiard Baller prototype.
I have also learned that they must be made a little larger, as they are a little flimsy in the prototype.
Third, The trough needed to be deeper to capture more water. Most people will want to fill the mold from a refrigerator water dispenser, which means that it will likely be held directly over the floor. So I have deepened the trough to make sure that it catches all of the water.
This is the New Look of the Billiard Baller:
It now has ribs to prevent water from seeping between the cavities. It also has a much stronger tongue and groove on the bottom:
And lastly, the trough is deeper and steeper on the edges to capture more water:
What is the Money For?
The money that I am asking for is for five things. The prototyping of the of the new model, the construction of the injection mold for mass production, the Initial orders, shipping packaging and any unforeseen expenses.
3D printing is very fast these days, usually you can have a prototype printed and shipped within two days. The prototype above must be tested. Given the functionality of the device has been proven, the testing is to find if any more improvements can be made. Preparing for all eventualities, I have allocated enough to have two prototypes 3D printed if necessary. If a second must be 3D printed, It would take one more week. Then I will order the Injection Molds built.
Aluminum Thermoplastic Injection Molds 65%
If they pass the testing as expected, then the Injection mold will be ordered which takes about two weeks. The construction of the injection mold is the most costly part of the process. One will have to be built for the Universal part and one to produce the gasket seal. 65% of the funds will go to the construction of the molds. The first samples are sent after the mold is complete and tested. Any modifications (if any) will be made at that point. Modifications won't cost money, just take time. IF the mold needs to be modified, then it might add about three weeks to the date of the initial orders.
Initial Orders 15%
The first batch can be ordered the minute the samples are approved. Delivery usually takes about two weeks and then assembly can begin
The packaging chosen for the product will be a see through plastic with graphics printed on them. Plastic was chosen because it will arrive with the graphics already on them. You will be able to see the product clearly and inspect it for defects right through the box. It is also more cost effective than a lot of cardboard packaging that I've found.
You can see some overlap in the stages of development, this is to illustrate the variability in time that it might take for each stage.
Those of you who have seen my other project know that I have two other models that I would like to produce. Should this project fund more than I'm asking for, then the additional funds will go to the production of two other molds:
1. The Marble Baller (as seen above)
This one I'm most proud of because it demonstrates the efficiency and quantity that these Ice Balls can be made. It's also the most versatile, because these little marbles can fit in any glass and can be used for any drink. It makes Ninety-six at a time.
2. The Pong Baller.
This one is more practical for mixed drinks and zombie glasses because the balls are medium sized and you only need a few. Most molds that make ice balls this size make about four at a time. We've found a way to make twenty-four. They are also nice because there is No Way that one will end up in your mouth!
All have their respective best uses for mixology and style. For Restaurants that have Exclusive specialty drinks, It can now be more practical to offer them with Ice balls than before. Top shelf drinks can be enhanced as well, by offering them with Spherical Ice.
Risks and challenges
We are very confident that we have worked out the major issues with the production of the product. However there are a few contingencies that it is prudent to prepare for.
1. There is a possibility that the actual injection molds will have to be retooled. While the retooling process will be relatively cheap , the time lost will be significant. We have prepared for that inevitability by setting our delivery date by July. If the mold needs to be modified, then it should be repaired and ready to be delivered within this time frame. Of course the possibility exists that it will take longer. We will of course make sure to keep everyone involved up to date with the progress so that there are no surprises.
2. The prototype works as expected, but the actual product will be made with a stiffer more consumption friendly plastic. It may behave in a different manner. This is not likely as the material itself was chosen for its density, stiffness and cold resistance, but as with all things untested, it may have some surprises. Most issues can be solved by retooling, or in a drastic case, modifying the injection molds for another material which would take time. The only way it would be expensive is if a completely new mold has to be tooled, which we have prepared for as in step 1.
3. As confident as we are about the material, we have to prepare for the possibility as well that the material might affect the flavor of the ice as some other ice cube trays have. Again not likely, but it would require a retooling of the injection mold for a different material, the same solution as the two aforementioned.
Aside from the Three risks mentioned above there are always logistical issues that may arise involving shipping, packaging etc. These are mostly time issues so the worst problem is not delivering on time. Again we are preparing for this contingency by setting our date to account for that.
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