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The Making of Commemorative Aluminum Drink Coasters

During the recent ALUMINUM USA trade show in Nashville in October, Light Metal Age (LMA) magazine held a celebration in honor of our 75th anniversary of continuous publication. For the occasion, LMA commissioned Winston Moy to manufacture 150 commemorative aluminum drink coasters, which were gifted to guests at the event (see highlights from the celebration, including a video documentary on the history of aluminum and LMA).

Moy is a self-described digital fabrication evangelist, who operates a small prototyping shop out of his garage called the Machine Shop of Horrors. He also runs an educational YouTube channel for hobby machinists. In his latest video, he shares the process of developing and manufacturing the coasters — the biggest project Moy had ever undertaken. “This is a story of grand ambitions, setbacks, and overcoming obstacles,” said Moy, who noted that “It was an all hands (CNCs) on deck kind of effort, but lessons learned were super valuable.” Among the lessons learned were how to deal with outside shops and the importance of tolerances.

As the video shows, Moy combined multiple fabrication processes for the set of custom aluminum drink coasters. Starting from aluminum plate stock, coaster blanks were waterjet cut, before undergoing a secondary machining process to add a pocketed recess on the back face. After being hand finished to a smooth appearance, the coaster blanks were sent off to be anodized, then laser engraved. Lastly, a layer of cork was applied to the bottom to complete the coasters.

Both LMA and our guests were delighted with the final results.

Moy Aluminum blanks
Raw aluminum blanks prior to finishing and polishing.
Moy - aluminum blanks
Moy loaded the aluminum blanks into a jig in order cut pockets for the cork backing.
Moy - anodized aluminum blanks
The aluminum blanks after anodizing and prior to laser engraving.
Aluminum drink coaster
Aluminum drink coaster commemorating LMA’s 75th anniversary.

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