Occasions like weddings, birthdays, and parades are great opportunities to celebrate with friends and family. And what better way to do that than to fill the air with a cloud of confetti. But throwing confetti by hand is boring. To really celebrate, you want to use a confetti cannon. They are easy to make. All you need is some PVC pipe and a few fittings. So why not make one for your next party.
Step 1: Safety Warning
Try to be safe when using your confetti cannon. Nothing ruins a party like people being injured or property being destroyed.
You should always use caution when working with compressed air cannons. Don't point the cannon directly at people. Don't leave the tank pressurized for long periods of time. Don't over-pressurize the tank. To be safe, I generally stay below half the pressure rating of the weakest component. On my cannon, the weakest component was rated for 80 PSI. So I keep the pressure below 40 PSI.
Above all, use common sense and don't do anything stupid.
Step 2: Materials
Here are the materials and tools that I used when building this project.
4 inch diameter PVC Pipe
2 inch diameter PVC Pipe
2 inch to 4 inch PVC Pipe Adapter Fitting
2 inch PVC Cap Fitting
2 inch Ball Valve
Male Air Tank Valve
Step 3: The Design of the Confetti Cannon
The basic design of a confetti air cannon is very simple. There is an air chamber, a valve and a barrel. The size and shape of the air chamber and the barrel greatly affect the performance of the cannon.
The larger the air chamber is, the more energy it can store. Larger air chambers will allow you to shoot a higher volume of confetti or shoot heavier objects such as flower pedals.
The diameter of the barrel determines how fast the confetti is shot out of the cannon. A narrow barrel will shoot the confetti faster and farther. A wider barrel won't shoot the confetti as far but it will be more spread out in a cloud.
For this confetti cannon, I made the air chamber from an 20 inch long piece of 2 inch diameter pipe. I decided to make the air chamber small to make it more portable and easier to handle. I made the barrel from a 6 inch long piece of 4 inch diameter pipe. This barrel will make a short range burst of confetti that is very spread out.
If you want to make your design more adaptable, you can connect the barrel with threaded fittings. This will let you unscrew the barrel and replace it with different barrels for different occasions.
Step 4: Cut the Pipe
The first thing that you need to do is cut the PVC pipe. To do this, I just used a simple hack saw. I cut one piece of 2 inch PVC pipe that was 20 inches long. This will make the body of the air tank. Then I cut a second piece of 2 inch PVC pipe that was 4 inches long. This will be used to connect the ball valve to the adapter fitting. Then I cut a piece of 4 inch PVC pipe that was 6 inches long. This section will hold the confetti.
Step 5: Dry Fit All the Pieces Together
Before you glue anything, it is a good idea to fit all the pieces together to make sure that you are happy with the overall shape.
Step 6: Glue the Pieces Together
Pieces of PVC pipe are fixed together in a process called solvent welding. The two pieces of PVC are essentially chemically melted and cemented together. This process should be done outside or in a very well ventilated area.
First make sure that all the surfaces are clean and dry. Then apply a coat of purple PVC primer to all the surfaces that will be connected. Follow the instructions for the primer that you are using. You may need to apply a second coat of primary to some areas. Then apply a coat of PVC pipe cement to all surfaces that will be connected. Again, follow the instructions for your PVC cement. You may need to apply a second coat to some areas. After applying the cement quickly stick the two parts together. Once the pieces are inserted all the way turn them 1/4 turn. Hold the two pieces together for 30 seconds. After assembling all the pieces, let it sit until it is fully cured.
Step 7: Connect the Pressure Gauge and the Air Valve
The pressure gauge can be mounted to any point on the air tank. I recommend mounting it near the ball valve.
Start by drilling a small hole through the side of the PVC pipe. Then re-drill the hole with larger bits until the hole is just smaller than the fitting on the pressure gauge. You want the pressure gauge to be fit tightly in place so that it doesn't blow out when the tank is pressurized. You may need to smooth out the sides of the hole with a file. Then apply plumber's tape all around the threads of the pressure gauge. Using a wrench screw the pressure gauge into the hole until the threads are just sticking out of the top.
Repeat this process with air valve.
Step 8: Pressurize the Air Tank
Now it is time to pressurize the air tank. First make sure that the ball valve is completely closed. Then connect your bike pump up to the air valve. Pump air into the tank until you reach the desired pressure. Do not over pressurize the tank! Keep the pressure well below the safety rating for the weakest component.
Step 9: Load the Confetti
Now fill the barrel with confetti. I prefer to use light weight paper confetti because it spreads out nicely and floats around in the air for a while. But you can also use other materials. If you are going to a wedding, you can fill it with rice, flower pedals or bird seed. For heavier materials, I recommend using a narrower barrel with a larger tank.
If you don't want the confetti to fall out of the barrel, you can tape a thin piece of tissue over the opening.
Step 10: Fire the Cannon!!!
Now you are ready to fire the cannon. Aim the cannon high into the air and quickly open the ball valve. The contents of the barrel will shoot out and cover everything nearby.