Sewage pipes are available anywhere in the world, they are cheap and super durable. They come with an existing curve that facilitate the making of complex objects: no costly molding or laminating operation.
I have designed a machine to cut and extract shapes from these tubes. It consists of a shaft, holding the PVC pipe, rotating and a router translating, similarly to a plotter. It allows for any shape to be machined.
It is extremely low cost and simply constructed. Based on well documented 3 axis CNC systems, it is easy to build and be programmed. The basic components also means it can be replicated anywhere, allowing objects to be built from locally sourced, pipes.
The Pipeline project is about empowering people. Without molds, objects like chairs can be made on demand, in small batches and the design can evolve constantly. With the minimal investment, a very large range of product can be produced, using an existing industrial material that can be recovered or brand new.
Here are shown some of the objects I've designed and produced using my custom cylindrical router.
I enjoy very much using that machine, but at the end of the day, seating on these chairs and have a nice diner, or riding my skateboard is what brings me the most joy. So this log is all about objects.
Here's the first design with a rattan seat, looks awesome and is very comfortable.
wavy tray: two are cut at the same time, so there's no waste.
The Ribbon chair is my favorite design, surprisingly stiff and very light.
Sometime, i get random marks appearing on the products...
I'd love to get one of these hand held portable printers just so i can add a lot more to these pipes.
Cutting chairs produce some offcuts. So, im now trying to design smaller objects that would fit in between bigger ones likes the chairs.
I can fit 6 pairs of spectacles into the backrest of the ribbon chair. frames and branches.
Skateboards: an other object that is commonly laminated using molds and a substantial amount of labor.
My cruisers are made in a few minutes and i can make a different shape overtime is i want.
If you go on my website, you might see some yellow and red chair. Even though they look good, the had to be primed, and painted, and its not realistic to go down that road, so I was researching colored material that would allow to a finished object in one cutting operation.
The machine is now very stable, and run very smoothly.
I figured out different machining strategies to keep parts within tolerances.
I mainly do 2D outline cutting, but the machine can also "sculpt" machine 3D model.
Intense machining at the studio.
I've been designing a collection of object, mainly furniture, all coming from the PVC pipes.
I went to my local construction yard to collect pipes.
Fits just nice on my car.
The shaft has expading blades to center the pipe and support it evenly.
First thing is to lower these blades to load the tube then expend them and lock the pipe in place.
I had to make a few last minutes changes on that shaft, it was a bit tight
And i cut a sample so i could check different dimensions.
First impression: It cuts trough the PVC very nicely and easily. leaving clean cuts.
The cutting bit has flutes for the shavings to be evacuated upwards, so it leaves a bit a bur that i will need to remove post machining. But its very easily removed.
The dimensions were a bit off, so i went back to the GRBL firmware to edit a few parameters.
Otherwise, the machine seemed to be performing well.
I finally felt confident enough to cut an actual product.
I've designed a chair to be cut in these pvc pipes. being a cylinder, a pvc pipe has a natural curve that i want to exploit to make object that would normally be molded or laminated.
I have nothing wrong with these processes, but always require to invest time and/or money in some sort of mold or tooling. I like the idea to being able to just extract a product in just one cutting operation. As quick and easy as a laser cut can be.
So here we have the visualisation of the g-code. You can see the trick, the chair is modeled flat.
This is an other great aspect of this process, objects can be drawn 2D, making it super quick to iterate.
It also make the CAM process simpler than involving a 4th axis.
It works like a charm.
Still a lot of room for improvement, but doing exactly what i want.
The electronic and software side was totally new to me.
So, naturally, most of the work went into choosing the right components and the correct software chain, from my file to the steppers.
I determined the force needed to cut through PVC in one pass. This required a fair amount of torque and I went with NEMA 34 stepper motors.
Of course during the course of this project, i wanted to spend as least money as possible.
Already getting these motor plus controllers broke the bank, so i was going to go easy on the rest.
I considered many different solutions including having a dedicated computer running LinuxCNC or even Mach3 among others. I discovered that GRBL 0.9 could do a very good at controlling these stepper simply using an arduino. I tested it and got convinced enough, so i went with that. At least until i find a better way.
I crammed together the power supplies and stepper controllers into that electrical cabinet.
I wanted to add a fan, but its been working pretty well without until now. But would still be safe to add one at some point.
Grbl is just reading the g-code and moves the steppers accordingly.
Again, i've tried a couple of different option and finally chose IGSplatfom.
Actually i chose this software almost only because it handles and its look. All other software have ridiculous GUI. I'm not building a toy here.
One day, i really want to develop my own interface. Stay tuned
Anyway, UGS does a ok job at streaming file G-code files. visualisation could be better, but still does the job.
The machine is now ready to be tested, all axis run smoothly.
All axis are belt driven for cost saving and convenience.
Now i still need to edit GRBL firmware to change the machine characteristics.
One of the challenge with this machine is the dimensions.
Ill be using these beam as my linear guide. It might not be extremely accurate, but will provide stiffness at a very low cost.
I'll simply need to make support on each sides and a carriage than will hold the router. Here again, stiffness will be ensured by a welded steel frame. I will use skateboard wheels for now, and maybe change them later.
The frame perfectly matches the technical drawings.