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Plastic blown pipe

by taj_bennet, published

Plastic blown pipe by taj_bennet Sep 12, 2013

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I present you with the art of plastic blowing.

Before you start bitching let me explain. The main benefits of glass blowing are 1.) perfect seal/suction 2.) The feel

You will notice if you look closely at images that mine have a smooth and polished glassy shell. This creates a perfect seal/suction. I added a glass on glass bowl as well.

This feels as good in the hands as a glass pipe however is 1/10 the weight. It is also about as strong as glass (depending on how you slice the model). This was printed with 8 shells. The swirls were added for artistic effect.

But its plastic?!?!?! Yes, but the part that gets hot is glass.

Okay so whats good about plastic blowing:
1.) cheap (costs almost nothing)
2.) strong
3.) light
4.) I can control the precision in cad. I can control everything precisely unlike glass.
5.) Plastic has the potential to be just as good as glass in terms of appearance. I have been playing around with mixing colors, inlays, swirls etc.
6.) Plastic is sooooo much easier to work with than glass
7.) Plastic blowing does not require a 2000c furnace or any major equipment other than a 3d printer.
8.) Its open source. We can post our pieces, and show how we did the artistic effects. I hope one day we will have a plastic blowing community.

Check out the instructions for details.

Safety Concerns: There are many types of plastics and many myths associated with "plastic". Burning ABS is probably not wise, but heating ABS is safe at the temperatures we are dealing with. 3d printers heat abs to melting temperature continuously. For smoking purposes the plastic will reach no more than 45C. 3d printers heat the ABS to 200C with no noticeable fumes and safe prolonged operating conditions. See the following for safety concerns. http://www.quora.com/Chemistry-physical-science/How-toxic-is-ABS-PLA

Notes: If you use my technique, please post what you made in the "I made it" section. I would love to see derivatives!

For legal: I am a licensed medical marijuana patient under CA 215. This information is strictly for other CA prop 215 patients or individuals living in Colorado and wherever else its legal for people to smoke weed. Thanks.

Oh yea or people who smoke tobacco out of a pipe : p


So here is the process:
1.) design the base pipe. Things which make a great pipe: Large carb and mouthpiece, ergonomic shape, the right size for the user, a really good bowl.
2.) print it (you can pause and swap colors, use ABS filament (critical), and slice it with lots of shells. You need the core to be sturdy.
3.) Add your artwork. You can extrude (or use raw filament- again ABS only) filament and tie it/wrap it, tack it in place with CA glue. You can use permanent markets, and even inlay things like thread etc. If working with ABS the art filament can be somewhat loose. If working with other inlays, make sure its tight to the surface.
4.) Get a metal container of some sort, an electric portable stove, a respirator (I'm actually unsure if acetone vapors are harmful, but I would wear one), a lid and some acetone. Acetone is very flamable. Avoid gas burners, and do this outdoors if possible. Put the acetone in the container, put the container on the stove (acetone is flammable so do it somewhere safe with proper fire precautions). Turn the stove on, and put on your respirator. You only need about a half inch of acetone. The vapors not the liquid is what melts the ABS and causes the smooth glassy surface.

5.) I attached my pipe to a cordless drill, and spun it inside the container about an inch or two above the liquid acetone. Wait for the acetone to boil first.

6.) It does not take long at all for the vapors to melt the acetone. Maybe 30s-1m.

7.) Now you can add new layers of filament/inlays and re-melt. You can do this step as many times as you want until you get the desired look.

8.) Drill a hole for the bowl

9.) This is critical... Seal the bowl! A viton o-ring is the ideal material to use to seal the bowl. Put it in place, re-melt your plastic, and push the viton o-ring in firmly to create a seal. CA glue/ hot glue/silicone all likely work too.

10.) I used a clear lacquer to seal the entire piece just in case.

11.) Soak the pipe in soapy water for about an hour to get rid of the acetone smell.

12.) Prime the pipe. This basically means smoke whatever you plan to use this for marijuana/tobacco. The purpose is that it will smell slightly like plastic when its fresh and clean. I don't like that smell, so I smoke once (priming), and voila! It now smells like weed, looks beautiful, works exceptionally well, and costs only as much as the bowl.

You can also print the items in sections, and use an abs/acetone slurry to "weld" parts together. For those who are passionate about purity, you can print hollow areas for laying pyrex. You can heat the pyrex with a (decent size) torch and bend it so it fits in your hollow space.

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Does it have to be ABS? Can it be PLA?

Mar 1, 2015 - Modified Mar 1, 2015

A novel idea but in practice with a RepRap, prepare to waste plastic. I respect that you are innovative but this is not the way, you are also putting extremely high stresses on the area blown, that's why it's fragile. Normally a 5 shell is way over kill. Most people use 2. 7 is obsurd. You may want to learn a little about layer width and thread dimensions. If you blow it at all, I recommend 0.1mm layers. But there will still be a high fail rate that wouldn't justify making anything beyond your own personal one. If you don't evenly heat inside and out, it will crack the first time it hits a hard solid surface. Just like glass that wasnt kilned or cooled properly. PLA will be too low temp and Tglase likes to crack at high thicknesses, whereas it would bend at lower thicknesses. Any higher and you can't blow it. So consider your material choices.... This iisn't done in industry for a reason, its asking for bad PR... Good luck. And it prints solid btw.... Would have made more sense to do honeycomb to release stresses and create an internal flexible scaffold. Try it and see.

wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew, inhale.

Truthfully, I don't recall what print settings I used. I just took a look at the model and its solid. So you need to print it on 0-1% fill with 5 shells (3 will work, but I recommend more). Then drill the mouth piece, and the hole for the glass bowl.

If you have a lathe or a drill press you could also hollow out the one you printed. Good luck.

I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with this. I thought it printed hollow, but I was mistaken.

woops. Yea I completely agree. I use an electric range. I also use it outside on concrete with keep a hose handy.

Acetone vapors ARE harmful, and very flamable, a burner is probably a poor choice. I prefer using the heat bed on my printer, no flame no spark no fire!