Do we always have to throw everything away?
The torch project below looks at how we can transform materials that we would normally consider as waste, and makes them into a functional everyday product.
Hopefully it shows that we don't always have to go to the shops. An hour or so with some scissors, a coke can and a cereal box and you're pretty much set to go.
What’s needed for this project
Hopefully most of the parts you’ll find in your kitchen cupboards
1 Torch bulb (Standard – NOT threaded)
2 AA (R6) Batteries or 2No C (R14) Batteries. (You will NOT need to make the battery holder if using size C)
1 Large cereal box to make the main body parts (24cm or 91/2" long) Bigger boxes tend to have stronger board
1 Coke can for making the bulb holder and switch mechanism
1 Length of thin parcel wrapping string - Approximately 200 cm or 80 inch for making a grip
1 Small square of cooking tin foil for making a reflector
1 Food colouring to dye the board (Water based are best or coloured inks) Dyes worked better than paints.
1 A small quantity of varnish to seal the cardboard parts. Acrylic varnishes are good.
1 Tube of super glue or other quick drying glue
1 Paint brush
1 Pair of scissors
1 Scalpel or craft knife
1 A paper hole puncher
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Step 1: Building the Bulb Housing and Switch Mechanism: Aluminium Can
First take an empty standard size aluminium drinks can, rinse it clean and then cut out the cylindrical section. A scalpel is quite handy to cut an incision near the top and then make this into a small triangle hole, big enough for a pair of scissors.
Cut vertically down the can side with scissors.
Once the vertical is done, cut your way around the top and bottom edges. Don’t worry if a few dents appear, these won’t matter. Once the part is clear from the lid and base, trim the edges to remove any sharp pieces.
Flatten the curled pieced of aluminium by rolling it back on itself. It doesn’t have to be really flat, just good enough to stick on the CAD drawing that you'll need to print out.
Tack the drawing onto the aluminium so that the branding is covered by the paper.
Trim out the shape to the solid black line. Note the 4 small cuts made into the main surface are needed to allow the folding over of the edges.
You can now cut the bulb holding section out with a scalpel and ruler, making sure that the lines are followed accurately. Just to confirm, at the corners, 4 small cuts are required as marked on the drawing. This allows the aluminium to flex out as the bulb is later put into position.
Using a ruler as a guide, fold part way over the edge labeled (a) and then edges (b) and (c).
Pull back the paper to reveal the printed coke can surface.
Then push the tabs down tightly
Position the GA drawing back over the folded section and mark gently the fold line (d) indicated by the dotted line. Don’t fold into position just yet.
The switch mechanism is made the same manner.
Fold tabs part way (e) and (f). Pull paper free and then press firmly tabs (e) and (f) down.
Rest the paper back down onto the section you've just folded and then loosely fold over tab (g)
Pull paper out of way. and press (g) down firmly
With (g) folded down on to (h) you need to bend (h) back to around 45 degrees.
Then bend (i) up by around 45 degrees.
Finally, make a dent in the folded section (g) and (h). This creates a positive touch point with the battery.
Fold tabs (j) and (k) over so that the printed surface remains visible on the underside. It will have a few wrinkle in when finished, but these are fine.
Now fold along line (d) upwards to 90 degrees.
You should now have a finished piece looking like the picture.
Clean the protective finish away from the points where the batteries and bulb touche the aluminium. A scalpel or a bit of sanding paper will do the trick.
To fit the bulb, first gentle bend out the small tabs a fraction. Push the bulb through the hole till the shoulder pushes against the aluminium. Then align the 'V' slot of the bulb against one of the tabs edge and gentle swivel the bulb around so that the lip becomes securely interlocked with the aluminium. The photo shows clearly how things fix together.
Step 2: Exterior Tube and Inner Wrap: Cereal Box.
Cut the cardboard box into flat pieces
To colour the board, blue water based food dye is good for quick results. Leave to dry and then repeat the process if you want a darker colour.
Once your happy with the colour apply 2 coats of varnish. Acrylic varnish works well.
The inner wrap can be coloured or left neutral.
Varnish the Inner Wrap to give it a protective finish.
Print out the CAD drawings and using blue tack, lightly fix them onto the printed surface side.
Using scissors trim the card to the drawing outline, making sure the tabs are cleanly cut out.
Using a ruler and some kind of scriber (a ruler or back of a table knife), make a groove into the card along the dotted lines.
These pressure marks on the board make the folding easier and more accurate.
Hold the card with the first set of tabs facing downwards. Press all 4 into the table to bend them over and in on themselves.
Repeat with other set.
Fold along the horizontal dotted lines, making sure to keep the card true to the lines you’ve marked into the surface.
All dotted lines should now be creased.
With super glue or the like, glue the tabs down.
Once they are secure, where the tabs fold over from the exterior edge, the ‘V’ points, using a ruler or a straight edge, push down at these points so that the doubled up material is made thinner. This stops the card from stretching and splitting the varnish.
With both the inner wrap and outer tubes still flat, and with the tabs glued, your ready to form the main body of the torch.
Fold the inner wrap in a square form, making sure the side with the slanting edges is on the outside. The inner wrap will always be un-foldable so no glue is required. Do the same with the outer tube but fold this around the inner wrap so that a tight fit is made.
When you are happy that the two are fitting together well, place some glue on the outer tubes slanted edge tab. Then press this glued tab against the body of the torch. The outer tube is now structurally complete.
Gently remove the inner wrap. Pulling down on the internal free side of the inner wrap helps.
Step 3: Reflector Unit: Card and Kitchen Tin Foil
Print out the CAD drawings and tack to a piece of board.
Applying pressure with the back of a table knife, make a groove into the card along each dotted line.
Fold the card so that each joint flexes easily.
Cut around the top outline first.
For the inner edges, cut one segment at a time and then fold the cut segment over onto the next
You'll now have a space for the scissors to access the next cutting line.
Smooth a small piece of aluminium tin foil.
The foils reflective surface forms the internal reflector.
Glue the card to the foil making sure that the card is stuck to the dull side, and that the folds allow the card to bend the right way when making the finished cone.
Cut the aluminium sheet so that the overlaps can be pulled round onto the rear surface and then stuck down. It 's fiddly, but only the internal surface needs to be smooth and look good.
Step 4: Battery Holder: Card
Print out the CAD drawing.
Roughly trim out the drawing leaving a slight gap between the edge of the paper and card.
Tack the drawing onto the printed side of a piece of card.
Cut around the drawing outline.
Make a groove along each dotted line using the back of a table knife.
Fold along crease lines, ending up with a closed shape with two protrusions pointing inwards.
Glue (A1) to (A2)
Glue (B1) to (B2)
Batteries can now be slotted into position.
On/Off Switch: Card
No pictures for this part, but if you've got this far it should be no problem.
To colour the board, again blue water based food dye is good for quick results.
Print out both the CAD drawings and tack to card.
Cut out the strengthener
Cut around the main drawing leaving in place the section marked leave and then bend along dotted line.
Place the strengthener part in-between the folded piece and glue surfaces together.
Then cut out the section marked (leave)
Test fit the switch by sliding it into position. It needs to form a tight fiction fit.
This is best done while placing the batteries inside the inner wrap.
Every one will be different so a bit of trimming might be required, till you're happy with the fit.
For those using C batteries you'll need to trim down the extending arms to fit, insert while placing the batteries inside the inner wrap.
Step 5: Bringing It All Together
You should now have all the parts ready to put the torch together.
In this version I've added a string grip that was made dyed with the same food colouring as the card and left to dry.
Also a strap was added by using a paper hole punch and threading throw a piece shoelace.
Place the bulb holder into the inner wrap.
Position the battery holder in-between the bulb and the switch. When the card is wrapped tight this will align diagonally from top to bottom.
The On/Off switch slots around the battery holder in the opposite diagonal direction to form a X.
Place the reflector unit over the bulb.
Gently close the inner wrap around the parts making sure the exterior flap has the slanted edges.
Holding the inner wrap tightly, slot it into the exterior tube.
If all has gone well your torch should now be working.
Finalist in the
Green Living & Technology Challenge