Proto Labs Awards Cool Idea! to New Beverage Distribution System

Time spent waiting for your beer at the bar may soon be over. iPourIt allows patrons to pour their own draft beer and wine on tap while keeping tabs on the ounces poured. This new system is the latest product to receive the Cool Idea! Award from Proto Labs (NYSE: PRLB), the world’s fastest manufacturer of CNC machined and injection molded parts.
The Cool Idea! Award was launched by the Maple Plain, Minn.-based company in 2011 to give product designers the opportunity to bring innovative products to life. This year, Proto Labs expanded the program to the European Union and will provide $250,000 total worth of prototyping and short-run production services to award recipients.
“The combined benefit to the business and the customer is what makes iPourIt such a cool idea,” says Larry Lukis, founder and chief technology officer of Proto Labs. “The fact that it not only eliminates a customer’s wait time, but also helps the bar provide better service and reduce waste is a classic win-win.”
When a bar makes the decision to install iPourIt, they can either move some or all of their taps to a location accessible to customers and fit them with iPourIt valves, meters and RFID readers; or install a pre-configured standalone kegerator. A customer can obtain an RFID wristband, dubbed the iPourIt Pass, from a staff member who scans the patron’s driver’s license and credit card to activate the wristband. When the customer initiates a pour, the iPourIt Pass reader scans the wristband, verifies the account and checks to make sure the customer hasn’t reached any limits set by the bar. The customer then pours his or her own drink. The meter tracks the pour and automatically adds the exact ounces poured to the customer’s tab. Customers can also create a profile on the iPourIt website to see the beers they’ve poured at all iPourIt equipped locations, rate them, find favorite beers at nearby taps, reserve pints ahead of time and even buy rounds for friends.
The company knew they needed injection molded parts that would withstand heavy use in a bar environment and selected Proto Labs not only to earn a shot at the Cool Idea! Award, but also because the parts would be manufactured in the United States.
“I started creating the program and hardware very soon after a particularly long wait for my drink at a busy sports bar,” says Brett Jones, chief technology officer of iPourIt. “Working with Proto Labs and receiving parts and services as a Cool Idea! winner has freed up a lot of my time to focus on other aspects of our business.”
iPourIt Chief Executive Officer Joseph McCarthy adds, “We thought iPourIt had a chance to receive an award, but we were still surprised when we got the call that we won. Having a company like Proto Labs believe in the potential of the business, and offer their support as we work to get off the ground is incredible.”

iPourIt technology is patent pending. The system consists of a management workstation, meter, valve, iPourit board, iPourIt Pass wristbands and an iPourIt Pass reader at each tap handle. The company provides restaurants, bars, cruise ships and entertainment venues a unique option in customer service. The system is recommended for establishments that sell at least 25 kegs per month, and it is available in either a fully integrated kegerator system, or by retro-fitting existing tap lines.

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