U.S. Air Force personnel who refuel tankers are working on ways to repair the mugs they use for coffee or tea, because right now the only solution to a dropped cup of coffee is a replacement.

At some $1,220.


The details come from the Air Force Times, which had the startling headline “Don’t drop that mug of Joe, it’s worth its weight in gold.”

Well, maybe not quite.

But the report confirmed details from that said this year 25 of the cups have been replaced, at a total cost of $32,000.

The mugs are not ordinary ceramics; they can reheat coffee or tea on the tankers. But their price has gone up $500 in the last few years.

“The 60th Aerial Port Squadron at Travis Air Force Base recently revealed that it has spent nearly $56,000 to replace broken hot cups over the past three years. The culprit, they say, is a faulty plastic handle known to break on impact. Each time a handle breaks, the Air Force is forced to order a whole new cup, as replacement parts are no longer made.”

The Air Force report continued: “To resolve the issue, a team of airmen at Travis’ Phoenix Spark innovation program is producing a 3D-designed handle that would make the cups more durable and save the service thousands of dollars. The team’s new curved handle is made to be much stronger than the current model.”

Nicholas Wright of Travis said in a statement released by the base that 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.”

“Our new rounded handle reduces that weak point. The handle we designed is stronger and capable of being printed at most Air Force bases.”

The report said the “curved handle prototype has been shared with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.”

“If adopted, the new handle could save the service thousands of dollars. Instead of having to purchase a new $1,220 cup each time a handle breaks, airmen could simply 3-D print a replacement handle at a cost of about 50 cents.”

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