New Espresso machine – first working model

Well, I’ve actually built an espresso machine. I built it to try out an idea I had, so it really doesn’t look pretty, but it does work rather well, and makes decent coffee to boot!

It is a working model for a possible new product. The working model is to prove that an idea works, unlike a prototype which shows how a product will look and feel.

It’s an under-the-counter model, similar to a Modbar or Mavam.

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This is bit that goes above the counter. Its really boxy and massive, with all sorts of bolts and gaskets sticking out. The next version will be much smaller and curvy. For scale, the shiney round thing in front of the wall socket is the group-head.

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This is the bit that would be placed under the counter. Its got a load of control valves, a small boiler, a pump, a filter and a control board. It is connected via hoses to the counter-top unit.

The laptop in the background is for programming and monitoring the control-board. I’ll post some more about the controller and software later.

The under-the-counter part is currently just built on a sheet of plywood. I am in the proccess of designing the next version, which will incorporate all of the lessons I learned building and testing this machine and also look like it might belong in a kitchen rather than a scrapyard.

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Close-ups of the boiler, and the pump and control valves. The boiler is salvaged from one of those steam-generator iron base units. Its very compact and good for about five bar, but I’m only running it at one bar. I’ve had to add some ports for level switches and pressure gauges etc.

The gauges are for me for testing. All of the paramaters are under software control, but physical gauges are usefull for debugging and calibrating.

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These are the internals of the over-the-counter unit. I built it with loads of room to spare for modifications etc, so it is much bigger than it needs to be.

The group-head was salvaged from an old Brasilia Portofino, then machined down and fins soldered on. The plate heat exchanger visible in the left hand photo is used to heat up the brewing water before it passes to the group-head. The heat-exchanger will be under the counter in the next version.

The counter-top unit is made of tig-welded laser-cut stainless steel. Laser-cutting is an incredible process – I designed the unit in Fusion 360, emailed off some files to the laser-cutters, and picked up all of the components next day. They needed only a very tiny amount of cleaning up of the edges before welding.

I’ll be put some pages up shortly to explain how it all works – its all rather different to anything I’ve seen before.

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