This is a small school project. Here we could choose an object to our liking as long as it isn't a piece of furniture, art or a lamp. Eventhough a ping pong table is somewhat a piece of furniture, I was still allowed to go along this route.
The idea is to design and make a prototype of a cheap, collapsable ping pong table that you can take with you anywhere and put away more easily than a regular one.
After many sketches the top one was one of the final ones. The final model has some minor differences. The small mock up was to look for the ideal folding pattern.
Step 1: Materials
The main material that was used is polycarbonate. I used about 3 sheets for the entire table, but it's best to buy a few spare ones just in case. The thickness was 5mm and measures 110 cm by 170 cm.
The second material used was triplex 5mm (if possible 4mm). One standard sheet of this would do, I had these cut down to 2 separate pieces of 74 cm by 67,5 cm. This was used for the main surface. After a lot of research for alternatives it was best to use this to ensure that the ping pong ball still had enough bounce to it.
Thirdly I used plastic rivets to hold it all together instead of regular metal ones. These would make everything easier to dissassemble as this is mostly designed for dissassembly as well. The max cap. of these was 10mm. The last one is some rope I found. 2 pieces of 45 cm's.
Then there are the zip ties, I had to use these as a means to reinforce everything a bit due to the fact that the rivets by themselves weren't enough (don't buy "just enough", best to have some spares than having to improvise).
Lastly are the cardboard L profiles, these were combined with the zipties the help strenghten the edges.
Step 2: Choosing the Right Tools
These are the basic tools required to make it. The drill needs standard drills (diameter depends on your components sucht as the rope and rivets). The tape is rather for reinforcement purposes.
Step 3: Making the Legs
This step is meant to do twice. Once for each set of legs. First we start of by taking one sheet and cutting it so that we have a smaller one that measures 147 cm by 67 cm. Cut it so that it resembles the part shown on the sketch, dimensions and such are shown on there as well.
Make a cut (front), not completely through, but just deep enough so that you cut through the small canals on the inside. Just like shown on the picture.
Flip over and cut along the canals along the line shown on the sketch.
Make a small hole as shown on the drawing.
Now add the tape on the sides of the folds to reinforce everything.
Repeat this step for the second set op legs.
Step 4: Making the Tabletop
For this you need only one sheet. First cut it down to size and then into the correct shape. Look at the added sketch (top), here you will see how to cut it and where to cut it. Do both sides as shown. Do note that for the bottom cuts, the cuts on the sides need to be done in a V shape.
After this take the cardboard L profiles and cut them down to about 560 mm. Do this 4 times
Then take one of the leftover pieces from the big sheet you cut down to size and make the small struts. Do this twice.
After you've done this, reinforce the folds with the tape.
Step 5: Drilling the Holes
After a small test, it seemed like the material could be drilled easily. For some holes you might need to prick some like shown on the picture just to make it easy for you to know where to drill. The diameter of most holes would be 7.5 mm but this depends on the kind of rivets used.
Follow the added drawing so you know where to drill and where to just prick them. The small circles are meant for the zipties and the crosses are for the rivets and the rope handles
Step 6: Assembly
First you fold the outer edges of the tabletop inward and make sure that the holes allign. Put the pin in and use some tape to keep it in place with.
Put the small, long pieces (struts) in the right position and fix them in place with the rivets. Add some tape to keep them in place while you do the rest.
To reinforce the edges, put the L profiles in place. Make the holes align and apply the zipties as shown in the picture.
Put the rivet pieces through the 4 holes in the triplex sheet. Then put these 4 through the holes that you've made in the top of the polycarbonate sheets and secure them in place. Do this step once more.
For the handles you need to make sure the legs are nicely in place. Grab the first piece of rope and make a knot at the end of it as shown on the picture. Put the knotless end through the holes and tie another not when done. Cut the extra piece of. Repeat this step for both sides.
Now we'll reinforce the top with zipties. Drill through the holes at both sides of the handles and stick the zip ties through. Secure these firmly.
Step 7: Finished Product, Use and Final Word
As with all things designed, there is always room for improvement. Different cuts, other rivets, a change of material all effect the success of the product. Depending on how well it is received by my teachers and peers, how much time I will have the coming school year, I'll maybe do some variations, improvements. This is of course the first prototype but still, I think it's a decent one.
To open it, it would be ideal with two people. Open it with the inside upwards, flip it over and let the legs flip down. Open these up, move the two parts closer to make the "net" pop up.
Hope you enjoyed this project as much as I did, and have fun prototyping it!