Make Prototyping Easier with the Protopiper.

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Make Prototyping Easier with the Protopiper.
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The Protopiper

Prototyping made easier. One of the best things about my job as a writer is finding something I didn’t know I needed and finding a use for something that it wasn’t intended for. This is one of those occasions. At first glance, it doesn’t seem like much but by the end of this article, I hope to change your minds and maybe get you to print your own. What does it do? Glad you asked. It makes pipes or tubes from tape. At first glance, it doesn’t seem like much. It takes tape and makes tubes so what? Well, First let’s talk about what they used it for.

Rapid Prototyping

Some of us just aren’t that good at visualizing a space and figuring out how everything should fit in that space. This is what they used it for in the video and in the build page (all links below). As it sits this is a great idea. I saw lots of comments about waste and how a 3D modeling program is better but not everyone is good with programs like that or visualizing how something will turn out from a computer screen. It’s also plastic and can easily be recycled.

I have seen lots of 3D printer owners that don’t bother to recycle the plastic they fail to use. So no leg to stand on guys. As for how this can help someone the images says it best. I wouldn’t go farther than basic boxes myself for what I needed but hey that’s me. If you were good at measuring the lengths involved Modeling it in a 3D space later with the help of a visual aide would be a snap. On to the fun stuff though.

 

Rapid Party Decorations

Here is where things start to get fun. 90% of the time you set up decorations that will need to come back down. A lot of that will need to be stored or thrown away. Whats the cost?  Time and money. Say you need an archway for a dance or wedding (don’t scoff not everyone can afford a million dollar wedding) Well if you buy an arch that’s not cheap. then you need to either store it or trash it. If you are lucky you can sell it. No matter how you look at it time and money out the door. Time is almost always going to be a factor but costs can be lowered. 2 rolls of tape can be as cheap as 4$ They mention strength issues if you use other tapes than what they recommend but with some tinkering, I’m sure someone could make something cheaper work.

That’s just one idea. Maybe you need something that you can attach some balloons too or lights. The best part is that when it’s all done it can go in the recycle and cost less than wood, metal or PVC.

Making a Proof of Concept

This is where you need to be able to see outside the box and maybe have some extra skills. I have mentioned before that I have experience in the fiberglassing field. This is the idea that this tube making gun sparked. To make it work though you would need to work in stages this is the idea. Say you want something super lightweight but can’t afford carbon fiber. Fiberglass is still an option but the frame you lay it on needs to be extra light to come close to carbon fiber. Stage one is planning out how to make it work for what you want to make. Let’s say the result is a boat that someone with limited strength can use.

 

Make a Boat

Use this like a 3d pen only larger and lay out the frame. To strengthen the frame but keep it light fill the tubes with expanding foam. This can be done 2 ways. The easiest way is to add it to each tube before connecting them. It should make the bonds tighter as the foam sticks to the plastic. Another way would be to make the frame and use a soldering iron to pop a hole in the tube so you can spray in the foam. I suggest the first but either should work.

The next step would be laying the fiberglass. This is where practice is needed. I would first Wrap the joints to make them as strong as possible. Remember when using less is more except when it isn’t. You will only know as you go. Use as little resin as it takes to get the strength you need. It’s complicated but marine resin is cheapish and practice makes perfect. Once all the joints have cured and tested for strength lay the skin. Start outside in. If you are working on a project that has a usable inside lay your mesh out from the outside this will let you make a pretty interior and create a smooth exterior.This is the most basic of concepts but once you have it laid out and finished you can either turn that into a mold or hit it with some marine paint.

Final Thoughts

This is a great tool to add to your shop whether for 3dprinting or something else. This and a tarp and you could make a pop tent in just a few minutes. When it’s time to pack up throw the frame in the recycle and use the tarp to wrap the leftovers. You just can’t do that with PVC or wood without a lot of extra tools. What use can you find for it?

Links

Their home page

https://hpi.de/baudisch/projects/protopiper.html

http://www.instructables.com/id/Protopiper-Physically-Sketching-Room-sized-Objects/

3 Comments
  1. versatileer says

    I like to make party decorations on the fly, so this post is perfect at informing me ways and means to do so.

  2. Richard Bynum says

    If I have had this as a kid I would have never stopped playing with it! Even while watching the video I was thinking, “I WANT THIS!” haha…It’s a great idea! I know one of the first things I’m making!! 😉

  3. Linda Peavy says

    Great ideas! It has me thinking of the possibilities!

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