Introduction: Build a 3D to 2D Projection Sculpture From PVC Pipe

Picture of Build a 3D to 2D Projection Sculpture From PVC Pipe

Here's an eye-catching piece of outdoor sculpture you can build with minimal tools and time. As it moves in the wind, it projects a changing 2D "surface" from a 3D solid. Confuses "flatlanders" and passersby alike!

Step 1: Bill of Materials

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You'll need 12 equal-sized sections of PVC pipe and 12 elbows. You can use whatever size pipe you want, but there's a limit to how long you can make the segments before it gets wobbly and hard to keep things square. I recommend using 1/2" PVC pipe and elbows , and use 6" pipe segments.

The following items are required for the project:
- enough PVC pipe for 12 6' segments; if you buy 2x 5' sections, you'll get 10 pieces from one pipe and 2 from the other.
- 12 PVC elbows
- PVC pipe glue
- ruler for measuring
- marker for marking cuts
- PVC pipe cutter or some other way of cutting the pipe. The pipe cutter has the advantage of no waste in each cut, whereas a saw blade will require compensation for each cut.

The following items are recommended:
- protective rubber gloves
- a clean working surface (the PVC holds a static charge and attracts dirt)

Step 2: Precautions

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Note the following precautions before proceeding with construction:
- the PVC glue contains nasty solvents - use it outdoors with the wind blowing away from you
- the PVC cutter is very safe for a cutting tool, but nonetheless it is sharp

Step 3: Mark Your Cuts

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If you lay your pipe down next to your ruler, it is easy to mark off the cuts.

Step 4: Make Your Cuts

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Here we see the pipe cutter about to make a cut. It helps that you cut the pipe while it is laying down. Otherwise it will bend as it is cut and you'll end up with slanted ends.

Step 5: Clean Your Pipes Before Gluing

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The PVC pipe builds up a static charge as it is handled, so wipe and/or blow off any dirt that's attached itself to the pipes and then lay them down on a clean surface. Same goes for the elbows.

Step 6: Construction - Overall

You don't have to be precise when building the sculpture, since it is mostly viewed from a distance. It is enough to eyeball the squareness of each step. Here are a few hints to ensure success:

- use only PVC cement, don't bother with the primer; we're not making water-tight joins here. Glue on each inside surface of the elbow will be more than enough.
- for the next segment in a step, apply glue to the elbow and attach the segment to it. Be sure to push it all the way into the elbow.
- when attaching the next segment, try to line it up squarely and push it all the way into the elbow. You'll have only a few seconds before the glue sets up but you can use the new segment to torque the angle at the elbow if you need to.
- all angles are 90 degrees

Here are all the steps, in case you don't need step-by-step photos:
1. left
2. away
3. up
4. right
5. away
6. down
7. right
8. towards
9. down
10. left
11. towards
12. up - finished!

In the following step-by-step instructions, assume in each segment that you first apply to glue to both inside surfaces of the elbow, then attach a segment, before attaching it to the existing segment.

Step 7: Step 1

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Attach an elbow to a segment, turn it upwards, then attach another segment pointing left.

Step 8: Step 2

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Attach a segment facing away from you.

Step 9: Step 3

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Attach a segment facing up.

Step 10: Step 4

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Attach a segment facing right.

Step 11: Step 5

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Attach a segment facing away.

Step 12: Step 6

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Attach a segment facing down. I provided two views so you can better verify you've got it correct so far.

Step 13: Step 7

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Attach a segment facing right.

Step 14: Step 8

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Attach a segment facing towards.

Step 15: Step 9

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Attach a segment facing downwards.

Step 16: Step 10

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We're getting towards the end. It's easier now to lay the sculpture down on a clean surface. Attach a segment facing left.

Step 17: Steps 11 & 12

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Here's the last one. I've combined the two steps here because we need one last piece coming towards you and are attaching to the piece going upwards.

Step 18: Build Verification and Completion

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You're done. Tie the sculpture up by a vertex and let it hang. Give it a spin, step back a bit, and if you're able to see a six-pointed star at some point your sculpture is a success.

Comments

Karroo Oakey (author)2009-10-23

Really cool! Wanting to replicate the sculpture I bought all the items needed except the elbows. Turns out that all is available in Oakeyville [term coined by Gorfram] are inspection elbows and very long bends. Got my Father to look in Port Elizabeth and no dice there. Any chance you would be prepared to scale this up for me to 1&1/2" (one and a half inch) 40mm, then I'll be able to make it out of old windpump pipes. Not so good at the scaling-up stuff.
 Thanks
Do you have any other 2d-3d patterns as well?

uhclem (author)Karroo Oakey2009-10-24

You can scale it by making the segments longer. Just make them all the same length. Just make sure whatever length you choose the pieces are rigid enough so they don't bend and sag while you try to glue them.

If I come up with other interesting shapes I'll post a new instructable for them.

I suppose a general rule for 'interesting' objects is to make sure your object occupies a volume evenly. Otherwise you'll get something that mostly grows and shrinks as it turns rather than morphing.

implaxis (author)2009-10-05

I might suggest putting it all together first, then glue a section at a time. I definitely want to try this.

uhclem (author)implaxis2009-10-05

You can assemble it without the glue, but you'll find that as you progress along it'll shift out of shape from it's own weight.

orksecurity (author)2009-10-05

Nice design. I'm thinking about what color to paint it, or what materials I might want to substitute; PVC is useful and affordable but not optimally decorative.

Kaiven (author)2009-10-05

Oh man! That is sooo cool! I love pvc, and a sculpture that morphs would just be awesome for me to own :D

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