4 ROWS x 16 COLUMNS
Anodized Aluminum Flaps with Laser Etched Font and Icons
In celebration of Oat Foundry’s 10th anniversary, we embarked on an extraordinary project: the creation of a unique and captivating Split Flap display. This project took us on a thrilling journey, brimming with inspiration, challenges, and unexpected discoveries – the end product is something never seen (or heard!) before.
Driven by a desire to commemorate our 10-year anniversary in a remarkable way, we embarked on a brainstorm of unconventional ideas. From considering a Split Flap design inspired by our iconic logo to a see-through display, we were fueled by a thirst for something truly one-of-a-kind. However, a spark of inspiration led us down an uncharted path, pushing us to explore the unexplored territory of crafting an all-metal Split Flap. Aluminum (or tin) is the traditional 10 year anniversary gift – a perfect fit.
Translating our designs from cold-rolled powder-coated steel into aluminum proved to be a challenge. Collaborating closely with our amazing vendors, we grappled with the intricacies of working with aluminum cabinets. Aluminum is a softer metal and the cabinet needs to support all the modules so we had to do some math to figure out the right material thickness –we landed on 18ga Aluminum which is 0.040″ thick. Our pursuit of perfection led us on a quest through different cabinet finishes, ultimately selecting an elegant #4 brushed finish. To safeguard against imperfections and scratches, we opted for a brushed cabinet that not only protected the aluminum but also showcased its inherent beauty.
One of the most formidable hurdles we encountered was the task of recreating our signature flaps using metal instead of a rigid plastic. Through a series of trials, we experimented with aluminum flaps of varying thicknesses. Our typical flaps are able to bend slightly to lock into place within the Split Flap carousel. Metal doesn’t have the same elasticity, so we engineered a specialized assembly jig that seamlessly brought the metal flaps and carousel wheels together — effectively transforming the dream of plastic-to-metal into reality.
Printing on the metal flaps with precision became an intriguing puzzle to solve. Our journey led us to the realms of laser etching anodized flaps, where we conducted numerous tests to achieve crisp lettering without causing warping in the thin aluminum. Ensuring repeatability became a primary focus, requiring another machined jig that helped guide the laser when etching each individual flap – we were able to laser etch 20-25 flaps at a time over the course of several weeks.
As with any ambitious project, unforeseen challenges emerged along the way. We faced concerns regarding the potential wear and tear of the flaps over time and the thunderous noise generated by the full-metal design. Embracing these challenges, we adapted our programming and devised creative solutions. This undertaking served as an opportunity for growth and knowledge, pushing us to expand our boundaries and explore the future possibilities that lay beyond the confines of our anniversary celebration.
The Metal Split Flap project stands as a testament to our unwavering spirit of innovation and passion for pushing the boundaries of Split Flap technology. From the initial seed of inspiration to overcoming obstacles, our journey propelled us into uncharted territory. The captivating full-metal design, adorned with a stunning brushed finish and meticulously laser-etched lettering, is poised to make a resounding impact. The Metal Split Flap symbolizes our commitment to shaping the future of Split Flap technology while humbly embracing the lessons learned along the way.