The U.S. Air Force has spent thousands of dollars -- $56,000 over the last three years, to be exact -- on cups that can reheat coffee and tea on air refueling tankers.
No, not a fancy "Game of Thrones"-like chalice adorned with jewels. Just a regular, old-fashioned metal cup.
But the pricey cups are fragile and often break when dropped. Airmen at Travis Air Force Base, California, are working on the problem, according to a service release.
Travis' Phoenix Spark program is a rapid innovation office using artificial intelligence and rapid prototyping to bridge gaps that currently exist across the force.
"The handle currently on the hot cup has a square bottom, which creates a weak point on the handle so any time it is dropped, the handle splits shortly after impact," said Nicholas Wright, a volunteer 3D designer and printer with the Phoenix Spark office.
Wright is helping create a prototype for a new handle to replace the flimsy, existing version.
"Our new rounded handle reduces that weak point. The handle we designed is stronger and capable of being printed at most Air Force bases," he said in the release.
According to Air Mobility Command officials, the 60th Aerial Port Squadron purchased 10 hot cups for $9,630 in 2016. The price for each cup surged from $693 to $1,220 in 2018, resulting in a cost of $32,000 for 25 cups -- a price jump of $527 per cup, the release said. (end of excerpt)
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