Protopiper is a computer aided, hand-held fabrication device that allows users to sketch room-sized objects at actual scale. The key idea behind protopiper is that it forms adhesive tape into tubes as its main building material, rather than extruded plastic or photopolymer lines. Since the resulting tubes are hollow they offer excellent strength-to-weight ratio, thus scale well to large structures.

constructed by: Robert Kovacs, Harshit Agrawal, Udayan Umapathi, Johannes Frohnhofen, Hsiang-Ting Chen, Stefanie Mueller, Patrick Baudisch

official project page: Human Computer Interacion Lab - Hasso Plattner Institute

publication: PDF

Step 1: Overview

The device creates tubes like a simple assembly line: it pulls the tape off the roll, shapes it into a tube, seals the tube, “brands” the wing connectors into the tube, and finally cuts the finished tube off.

You can access all the design files, schematics, and source code from our dropbox repository. We recommend using the files from the dropbox, they are always updated!


<p>It's so cool</p><p>but Oracal 8500 costs 100 RMB each squre meter in china</p><p>I want to buy it on Amazon with a lot of tape</p>
<p>Can you use this to make giant things, such as a life-sized British telephone box?</p>
<p>It's cool, but how much does all that tape end up costing?</p>
<p>Its a good question. For us a roll was about 2 euro, but it depends where you buy. We bought in bigger quantities.</p>
<p>Very cool!</p>
<p>O.o Wow I used to make/prototype furniture using straws and papertape to measure out how I would like it, but it was highly inpractical. This just erases all those problems, who came up with this idea? I would like to personally thank them :)</p>
<p>Tell me where to buy narrow band Oracal 8500? Available in stores minimum width of 1 meter.</p>
<p>Hi, unfortunately you have to but the one meter wide roll, but they can usually cut it for you in 60mm pieces. And you will use it quickly:) </p>
<p>great sir</p>
<p>This is genius!</p>
<p>some more research to make benches and nake a strand beast like from the great artist theo jansen :)..... </p>
<p>Initially I thought it was an oversized 3D doodling pen but then I found out it was tape and it's hard to believe you could make tubes and structures with just tape. Amazing work!</p>
<p>This looks like fun, but it seems like it would actually take longer than using a 3d modelling program or in the case of the furniture, a floor plan editor. Since the objects can't actually be used for anything, they simply end up being tossed in the trash. A model would serve the same purpose without waste. If the heating element were covered up it might make a fun toy for kids though. Kids already play with sets similar to this in smaller scale (lego, lincoln logs, knex, tinker toys).</p>
<p>You're such a kill joy. Its a fun thing for people to make, its not meant to be the most practical thing in the world.</p>
<p>That's incredible, what I love most is how much further you took it than just a tube shaper and cutter. The added &quot;build to size&quot; and connecting options actually make it a feasible tool for prototyping easily. I could legitimately see this being used in real world applications.</p>
<p>Wow. Just wow. That would be so helpful when I'm mocking up a built-ins size and shape for a client.</p>
<p>Wonderful job. The creativity is stunning. Do you think you could inject cement into the tubes and then peel the tape off after it hardens? Just seeing some possible art projects. </p>
<p>I'm thinking that the tubes are not that strong to hold back all the concrete.</p>
<p>Perhaps some type of urethane foam might work though, maybe even something like http://www.homedepot.com/p/GREAT-STUFF-16-oz-Big-Gap-Filler-Insulating-Foam-Sealant-248314/100029171</p>
<p>Perhaps some type of urethane foam might work though, maybe even something like http://www.homedepot.com/p/GREAT-STUFF-16-oz-Big-Gap-Filler-Insulating-Foam-Sealant-248314/100029171</p>
<p>omg very neat to see the principle of making seamless welded piping transferred to diy protopiper. i love the contraption looks great</p>
Very fun good project
<p>Wow.. that is really cool! How did the idea came up?</p>
<p>At first I thought this was a joke until I saw the Youtube videos.</p><p>Pretty cool.</p>
<p>This is so cool! the amount of creativity required to design this is just amazing! </p><p>Why don't you enter contests like the &quot;Full spectrum&quot; contest?</p>
Wow! Amazing idea and a great write up.
<p>Brilliant! This would work so well for so many things. plumbing, welding projects, carpentry...</p>
<p>Excellent !!</p>
<p>Once again, I have to say: the www is so darn cool...</p><p>There is an old saying that I kinda understood back in 1960 but really understand in 2015...born 50 years too soon...</p><p>Such a great idea and deserves to be patented and sold. Get yourself onto that Shark program on TV!</p>
<p>looks cool!</p>
<p>I remember seeing the video make the rounds a while back. This is brilliant. Even more awesome that you've made this instructable. I certainly hope you got the highest grades for this project!</p>
<p>it looks like the ray gun mark 2 from bo2</p>
<p>This thing is amazing and looks like so much fun to use!! Thanks for sharing.</p>
Nice job.
<p>Fantastic design and function! A mix of star wars and wallace &amp; gromit!</p>
<p>That thing is flipping ingenious. Amazing, get to manufacturing and some lawyers. You have something you can make some money from. </p><p>Just awesome. </p>
aaaaaaahhhhh!!!! - you have got to see the Youtube vids of this, it is juuuusssttt wicked - - genius, just genius - - love it.
This is brilliant and well designed!

About This Instructable




Bio: We believe that computer science and mechanical engineering are about to unite. In the future, users will solve mechanical problems by digitizing the involved objects ... More »
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