Thalbach Design Manufaktur - edle USB-Sticks aus Holz und ausgewählten Edelfurnieren, Einzelstücke und Sonderanfertigungen
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An insight into the manufacturing of an USB Flash Drive: Model "Stash"


People ask, what's so special about a wooden flash drive?
"Why not get one of the cheap plastic sticks with 16gb from a discounter?"
Our answer: "If you like it - why not?"

But note:

Durability of common plastic

In this case you will have to accept that the built-in electronics and memory chips cannot be of high quality and can only last around 10,000 write cycles.
Do you plan to write 10,000 times to your flash drive?
Well, you don't have to - Windows will do that for you. Even if the stick is idle, but plugged in Windows will continue writing cached files to the flash drive. That way, the lifetime of the drive will be reached pretty quickly - may be in 6-12 months. Then, you'll run the risk of losing data and finally may have to buy a new one.

On ours we've chosen to use the highest quality memory chips available with a minimum of 100,000 cycles which guarantees you long-term use of your flash drive.

Durability of wood

We're often asked: "Doesn't a wooden surface get scratched easily?"
No. The veneers of our wooden flash drives are treated with high quality, solid oil that makes the surface as durable as parquet flooring. With that kind of finishing, they'll easily outlive a standard plastic flash drive. Another advantage is that even if the wooden surface accidently get's a scratch, all it takes is a little piece of fine sandpaper and a bit of furniture polish to make the flash drive look like new in seconds.

Also, there is a special

feeling when you own a handmade item. One that someone has spent a lot of time to carefully mill, file and sand, turning it into something unique. A product that every last detail fits exactly, and becomes a fine piece of art. One made with the finest woods and selected veneers which are carefully aligned by grain. This gives every flash drive its own personal uniqueness which can't be duplicated by any mass made product.

It begins with an idea...  

It begins with an idea...

Sometimes it starts with the first "drawing" on a beermat. Then there's the sketch on the drawing board, one of many, until the result is perfect. Once we like the look, the pictorial details need to be measured. The precise data are then redrawn in CAD and NC-Code data for th CNC milling machine will be generated.
 
The origin - the wood material  

The origin - the wood material

The aged planks and veneers of unknown origin are unimpressive, mostly grayed and in many different shapes. On the first view, all of them look pretty much the same, old and rarely usable, but under the surface you'll find hidden treasures like apple, plum, cherry, walnut ... which have beautiful grains. It is finished with a layer of oil that protects and shows the true beauty of the wood.
 
The workpiece  

The workpiece

As soon as the dimensions are figured, wooden strips are manufactured, which are then conventionally cut and sanded to a precision of +/- 3/100mm. In Germany we say (let me try to translate); "the woodworker measures with millimeters, the roofer works with centimeters and the bricklayer tries to stay on the property." However, this means the wood is measured at a very high accuracy.
 
Cut and processing  

Cut and processing

With precise sense of proportion, and considering the number of fingers, the body of the flash drive is cut to length.
 
CNC - computer aided milling  

CNC - computer aided milling

If you think computer aided milling has nothing to do with handwork, you're wrong. Construction plans need to be drawn, programs written, the milling code optimized and mountings for each working step need to be built. Even though the working steps done by CNC are a very small part of the total process, they are still the basis for the final, precise result.
 
Final sanding  

Final sanding

Sanding requires sensitivity, practice, and a good eye for details. A little slip and the whole part is wasted. The perfect finish is made on the belt sander at lowest speed and the edges are sanded by hand.
 
The surface  

The surface

Since the surface is treated with high quality oil it has a durability similar to parquet flooring and still has a velvet-like touch. This makes the memory stick look like new for years and the wood shines in its natural colors.
 
Dry period  

Dry period

The drying period is a time of rest for the wooden flash drives. It takes around 24-48 hours for the surface to harden. While the wooden flash drive rests the next parts are manufactured.
 
The knob of the model  

The knob of the model "Stash"

With the knob, made on the lathe from aluminum, the drive can be pulled in and out the wooden housing. We guess, that the model "Stash" is the smallest wooden flash drive with a slider mechanism in the world (At least at the date of construction, we didn't find anything similar on the market).
 
A marvel of lathe manufacturing  

A marvel of lathe manufacturing

Heavy machines work very hard to make filigree parts like this fascinating tiny knob. But our motto is; "only the finest". It has to be that way.
 
Perfection in every detail  

Perfection in every detail

The accuracy of the parts is extremely amazing. That is the fun of product development.
 
The reward of all the work  

The reward of all the work

countless hours at the computer, fingertips sanded off, a workshop full of dust and dirt ... But the prototype is finished. Time to have a beer, lean back and have a look at the result. Well done - unique. Totally satisfied.
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