In the sections below, we have outlined each of the steps taken to take our mills from a concept to your kitchen. We hope you find it as interesting as we do.
Each of the below steps is carried out by a separate local business here in the U.K. We are so proud to support the British manufacturing industry and our local suppliers, albeit in a small way.
The process begins with what's known in the casting world as a pattern. Or put simply – a replica of the object you're going to cast. A traditional pattern is made by a pattern-maker, a skilled tradesperson, with skills in die and mould making. Our prototype patterns were made to exacting standards and hand-carved from a single piece of wood.
To produce our mills in production quantities, we employed new technology to make new patterns. We now have eight impressions that were 3D printed in resin. The material is ideal as it will produce a fine surface finish. Because a machine has made it, it is incredibly dimensionally accurate.
Sand casting is a metal casting process, where sand is used to form a mould, into which the molten metal is poured. As the metal cools, it solidifies, resulting in a finished cast product. To produce a simple part, the process involves; compacting sand around the pattern and then removing it to create a cavity.
A gate system is used to pour the liquid metal into the mould and control the metal's shrinkage and how fast it cools. More complex castings require cores to be produced, using a core allows you to create hollow sections inside the casting (where the salt & peppercorns will live).
CNC machining (computer numerical machining) is the automated control of machine tools, such as lathes and mills. The mill's basic shape is cast, but the castings are quite rough and require tidying up before using them for such a product. Plus, some features can't be cast (when sand casting) and have to be added later (such as the handle counterbore or filling hole).
Other components of our mills, such as the rotating handle knob and shaft, have also been manufactured using CNC machines.
Food Contact Safe Coating
We have coated our mills' internal surfaces with a coating that has been specifically designed to be used in direct contact with food. This step is essential to satisfy the UK/EU regulation surrounding FCM's (Food Contact Materials). We put our prototypes through a stringent series of tests with a certified laboratory so that we can be sure that our mills are perfectly safe to use!
Exterior Powder Coating
The exterior surfaces of our mills are coated with a highly durable fine textured matt powder coating. To give you an idea of the paint's durability, it is similar to the coating that you'd find on a bicycle frame.
For now, the assembly of each mill will be done personally by Guy himself. This final step is essential so that he can ensure our strict quality standards are adhered to.
The grinding mechanism is supplied by a Swiss company that has been making salt & pepper grinding components since the 1950s. We trialled many grinding mechanisms during the development phase; the ones we have chosen are undoubtedly the best in their class.
In the interest of full transparency, we wanted to include information about the product's origin as a whole.
To that end, we supply each mill with a small filling funnel. These are purchased in China as we were unable source anything similar at a viable price here in the U.K. As well as the funnel, we also buy the packaging from China for similar reasons.