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Old 08-12-2019, 08:03 AM
am77494 is offline
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Drinking utensil design problem. Why did we have flared tops in the past ?


Inspired by the thread on drop of coffee outside the mug https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=880259


So when I look at some antique drinking utensils : mugs, chalices, cups etc etc., many of them seem to have flared tops.

Examples :
https://images.app.goo.gl/TRFzy2P8TejdZyAp8
https://images.app.goo.gl/2jvzgBZs6K1ow4C86
https://images.app.goo.gl/iwCgkQXTHYMqFmtb8


While I understand that in old times, metals and ceramics were used, which may have been easy to flare at the drinking end of the utensil. While in the modern day plastics and glasses are used which may be harder.

Given the geometry of our lips and the physics of our drinking, is it a better design to have flared tops ? (better in the sense of ease of drinking and less spillage)

Last edited by am77494; 08-12-2019 at 08:04 AM.
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Old 08-12-2019, 08:14 AM
Nava is offline
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Flared and unflared designs exist in all those materials; if you want to see a lot of glassware with flared tops, just look at lab supplies. AFAICT it's got nothing to do with ease of use, it's mainly a matter of aesthetics. "Tulip" glasses (for which the widest point is close to the bottom) are unflared, not very comfy to drink from and a PITA to wash; they're also extremely popular because they're pretty. A design's popularity doesn't necessarily have to do with usage considerations.

Last edited by Nava; 08-12-2019 at 08:16 AM.
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Old 08-12-2019, 08:20 AM
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It's also about strength and stiffness. A flared shape is curved in 3D and doesn't bend nearly as much under pressure as a 2D-curved cone. The lip is the most exposed and the most vulnerable area of the vessel to damage from applied forces, since it has the least support.
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Old 08-12-2019, 08:48 AM
enipla is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nava View Post
Flared and unflared designs exist in all those materials; if you want to see a lot of glassware with flared tops, just look at lab supplies. AFAICT it's got nothing to do with ease of use, it's mainly a matter of aesthetics. "Tulip" glasses (for which the widest point is close to the bottom) are unflared, not very comfy to drink from and a PITA to wash; they're also extremely popular because they're pretty. A design's popularity doesn't necessarily have to do with usage considerations.
I would add that at least IMHO, a glass with a bigger base, and more fluid lower is more stable to set on a surface.
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Old 08-12-2019, 09:51 AM
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I don't know why this was the case, but it's quite an old aesthetic. Maybe it comes from the shape of drinking horns? Rhytons are frequently that shape, and they descended from drinking horns.
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Old 08-12-2019, 10:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by am77494 View Post
Inspired by the thread on drop of coffee outside the mug https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=880259

So when I look at some antique drinking utensils : mugs, chalices, cups etc etc., many of them seem to have flared tops.
[…]
While I understand that in old times, metals and ceramics were used, which may have been easy to flare at the drinking end of the utensil. While in the modern day plastics and glasses are used which may be harder.
Why would plastics and glasses be difficult to shape this way? Also, glassblowing has been around for at least 2000 years; blown-glass vessels with flared rims have been around a long time.

One could argue that amber—polymerized tree sap—is a plastic. In that sense, plastic drinking vessels with flared rims have been around for at least 3000 years. The Hove amber cup has a rim that’s not dissimilar from the flared rim in some of your example photos.

Quote:
Originally Posted by am77494 View Post
Given the geometry of our lips and the physics of our drinking, is it a better design to have flared tops ? (better in the sense of ease of drinking and less spillage)
A flared lip prevents dribbling at least partly by ensuring that the pouring threshold is “downhill” from the exterior surface of the vessel. An over-full vessel might still dribble, of course.

I guess a flared rim could keep the flow from cup to mouth laminar longer than an abrupt rim would, but I’m speculating. I don’t even know whether laminar flow is somehow advantageous at that point.
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