Hey! This thing is still a Work in Progress. Files, instructions, and other stuff might change!

PVC pipe construction set, ver.2

by DonaldJ Jul 20, 2015
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This reminds me of something i had when i was a kid. I think it was called pipe builders, but im not sure. I don't know why they quit selling them, it was by far one of my favorite toys. I remember building a giant jungle gym that inside that could reach the roof! But the ones back then snapped together, they used a system kinda like the the area on crutches where you can adjust them, so they would just snap together.

You wouldnt have happened to make this for 1" scd 40 pvc would you?

Thank you for the awesome design. I have a project that I am working on at home and this is perfect. One question: Have you done any type of stress tests on anything like the rectangle in the picture? Any info would be helpful. Thanks again!!!!

Hello, great design. I was wondering what software you used and if you could send me the file in that software format. I cant seem to modify your design in fusion because it's an .STL. Also, would you happen to have a version of the corner piece, but with one of the sides rotated 90 degrees to the other side? So like to be able to connect two separate 4-groups of PVC that connect to the same corner.

Comments deleted.

I see that there is an All Parts file. Does someone have them separate? I cant seem to remove what I dont need from that. I am looking for the part that just binds the four tubes together and have 4 screw holes.

Hi! excellent work and thanks for sharing.

Do you have the file of the "baseplate" but with the 3 in's? or out's... depending how we see it.. Like the ones on picture 3 siting on the floor.


It looks like one part but is actually two: the standard corner piece and a baseplate that was modified in NetFabb. The baseplate is taller than it needs to be in some cases, allowing the user to shorten.it as required.

Thanks! :-)

Great design , giving option to loads of affordable solutions
Could you share the cad files so we could do some alterations or
any chance of you making some variations to this designs
like a V or Y or a + shape corner or a L shape corner with a 3rd connection (like it was 2V's joint together to make the end piece as a L shape).
This would open to loads of more options even with the use of carbon filament and the carbon pipes.
Great job a 10/10 from me.
Please contact me if you share the cad files or do some more variations.
Kind regards

Hola, es muy bueno este pequeño artilugio para cualquier proyecto de construccion. No tendrias lo mismo, pero para 2 tubos solo?

(de Google translate) Lo siento pero no. Por favor mira la versión anterior, cosa: 293575, y otro proyecto, cosa: 1014884. Tal vez haya algo que puedas usar.

Gracias por las amables palabras.

Gracias por responder. Las he visto antes de escribir. Y no está lo que busco. En la cosa 293575, es para un tubo, y en el 1014884 también es para 4 y es más específico, para la impresora que has fabricado.
Bueno, intentaré hacerlo en algún software. Pero se ve muy bien lo que has hecho, y podría ser más fácil modificar algo ya hecho, que hacerlo de nuevo.
Por cierto, que tipo de tornillos son los que usa para amarrar los soportes a los tubos?
Algún sitio de aliexpress para poder verlo y comprar?

¿A qué apoyos te refieres? Solo se usaron dos tipos de sujetadores metálicos: tornillos para metales de 1 / 4-20 (1,5 pulgadas) y tornillos para chapa metálica n.º 6 (media pulgada). No sé los tamaños de los equivalentes métricos.

Muchas gracias, es usted muy amable.

pd,, si se anima a diseñar otros modelos , no dude en publicarlo..
y por cierto,, sabria usted hacer alguna rotula? soporte o rotula en si, impresa en 3D? tipo rodamiento para dos ejes.

He usado Tinkercad en casi todos mis proyectos y lo recomiendo encarecidamente. Es muy fácil de usar. Inkscape también es bueno para crear imágenes cargadas para importar a Tinkercad como archivos SVG, pero tendrá que experimentar. ¡Que te diviertas!

This is a great idea! It would work great with bamboo, if you had access to a cheap/plentiful supply.

I don't think so. Bamboo is too uneven in diameter and is not perfectly round. A different kind of part may work, though.

Really a great project
Can I ask if you have the file in another format?
I should change it because I have pipe of a different diameter.
thank you :)

Sorry, no other file format available. Scaling the part may work if the size difference isn't too great. Good luck, and thanks for the compliment.

Quick question, if I was to scale this to use 1/2" EMT is it 98%?


I don't think so. According to Wikipedia, the nominal outside diameter of 1/2" EMT is 17.9mm and the part is designed with a 22mm hole.

Measure your EMT, scale the part accordingly, and make some test prints. Depending on your printer settings it make take a few tweaks to get it dialed in for a proper fit. I have no experience with using EMT and you may encounter part failure because the metal is less forgiving than PVC; proceed with caution.

Good luck, and thank you for your interest.

OK I'm new to the 3D world
I can't figure out how to break up the "all parts.stl" into individual items
tried tinkercad, and 123D
Can someone point me in the direction

With Tinkercad, you can create boxes, use the Inspector to make them holes, and overlap and group them for the parts you don't want.,

You can also use Repetier Host which allows you to load the part and split it into individual STLs, which you can then save.

Or you can try NetFabb Basic, but it's a little trickier.

All these processes will require some trial & error, and I apologize for the inconvenience.

Thanks for the reply DonaldJ
No apology required, I'm the one that doesn't have the knowledge
I didn't even think of using Tinkercad hole function
and with Repetier I didn't want to install another program if I could do this with something I already have.

thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

This is SUPER BRILLIANT. If I thought I could get a box to be rigid enough, maybe by adding acrylic walls, I could have an all plastic 3D printer (well mostly plastic) -- not because it is better, or more efficient, or whatever, but because I can. And sometimes that's all that matters. Again, brilliant.

Have you seen this? All plastic printer, except electronics ofc.

Oh how cool! I even have all the non printed parts right here and can go ahead and make one. Hmmmmm...

Hey excelente trabajo! gracias por su tiempo en el diseño!

Gracias por sus amables palabras. Me alegro de que te guste. ( Traductor Google , mi español no es bueno )

I think the environment doesn't have enough PVC Pipe in it. I mean, natural water tables only stretch so far, its time we aqua-duct them clear into tomorrow with some cheap and easy to access PVC pipe.
I also like your invention. Good job.
I'm gonna print some of these for my aqua-duct.

In all seriousness though, its fun to see someone make things easier for people to use and tinker with. I'm intentionally going to find a use for this somewhere and have a wonderful time doing it. Thank you.

Hi DonaldJ many thankss for this brillant project !

Would it be possible for you to create the same kind of module to accept tubes from 6 ways in order to have a cross?

Also I cannot seem to find the foot module (corner with base). Where could I find this please?

And for finish if the base module was update can you please create a base with T module ? for stronger structure.

Many thanks,


Thanks for the compliment , but I don't think I'll be doing any further work on the project.

A 6-way connector would be problematic, due to the stresses imposed on the layer orientation and the amount of internal supports that would have to be removed.

There is no foot module (corner with base).

Any custom pieces you need can be created with Tinkercad without too much difficulty.

Good luck!

Had a couple thoughts, can you post the STEP, DXF, DWG, etc. versions of the STL files?

As mentioned in a previous comment, Tinkercad doesn't support those file types. Sorry.

Sorry, missed that comment on the first pass. It does say it'll save SVG and that's a similar vector format but I've only ever seen it used for 2D. There's also no native SVG import filter in Rhino, probably for the same reason, so that doesn't sound promising.

No problem, I can recreate the ones I'm interested in from the STL files. I assume you don't mind if I include the recreated STEP files as a remix of the original?

Any remixes (and improvements!) are welcome if you can link to the originals.

I'd like to see how the community improves the parts or adds new ones...

This looks very promising for building a modular structural frame for a winter hydroponics setup or supporting grow lights to start seedlings early spring. What infill percentages are you finding work best against the stock PVC? Full disclosure, I'm an EE, not an ME so please forgive the noob question.

I've been using ABS with a 50% rectilinear infill, which may be too much but I'd rather err on the side of caution. For structural applications, it would be a good idea to test a few parts first and see how much strain they can take before they fail.

Wow! Just started and I found something great! Can I get a 1-3/8" pipe version?

Scale it to the size you need. I have no plans to make other sizes, but thank you for your interest!

Comments deleted.

Update: Added part ("T-Bone") to simplify the creation of T-Junctions.

Comments deleted.

Update 5-Aug-15: Added note in "instructions" indicating the option of using wooden dowels if the use of PVC is offensive.

I would encourage people to consider using aluminum. It is cheaper than you probably realize (just buy it at the right place) and it is 100% recyclable and abundant. Likewise wood.

PVC pipe is really wasteful to be using for construction.

I agree with your assessment of aluminum; in many cases it is the superior material. Please note in the instructions section where I mention using the PVC as a mock-before committing to extruded aluminum. But I don't understand how it can be "really wasteful" if it fulfills your requirements.

The PVC is a fun material for me to work with. I don't have to be fussy about measurements, the cut ends don't have to be square, and in the worst case I can use a heat gun to bend it to my will. Even if aluminum were free, you could spend a small fortune on brackets, gussets, insertion nuts, etc. And if you require some kind of custom part it can be very pricey, whereas I'll just go to Tinkercad and make what I need. A lot of trial and error can be required, but that's all part of the process.

Finally, the PVC is most useful for instances where the use of aluminum is simply overkill, and over-engineered. Plus, it's often available as scrap. Meanwhile, I still have about thirty feet of aluminum extrusion waiting for the right project ;-)

Thanks for your comments!

I mean wasteful for the environment. At least when used for it's intended purpose PVC pipe will serve for many years. Here you are proposing using this product for cheap mock-up.

As for the cost of aluminum, square tube extrusions are very inexpensive, as is flat bar. Rivets are cheap too.

Have you ever been to a plant where they extrude aluminium? I think you need to do a little more research before you lecture people about what is good for the environment. Besides, you are VERY much off topic.

We had this conversation in August... You are just a random snarker.

And when I'm done with my cheap mock-up, I'll take it apart and make another cheap mock-up, and another, and another...

Or I'll make something else out of it. In any case, none of it will end up in the environment, at least by my hand.

As for the intended purpose of PVC, didn't William Gibson say something about "the street finds it's own uses for technology"?

Great and very useful design.
Thank you so much!

Excellent. Thank you Donald for a highly functional, and much needed design. I like the way you think and can't wait for your future works.

You are too generous in your praise. Thank you for the kind thoughts.

I like this and will have to print out. If it will fit in my M3D? So far to date a bad choice of printer. Maybe some day they will figure out the software glitches, maybe
But I can see allot of different builds with using these

I don't know the build volume of the M3D, but the largest part is about 75mm x 75mm x 55mm. You can use Repetier Host to split the big STL into the individual parts and save them. You should be good to go.

Very interresting kit ;o) And I wish you to success with this big printer !

Btw I have a stupid question... How you fix the bolt when it's inside the pipe ?

I don't think I understand...what bolt?

those who fix the pipe with your pieces

Still don't get it...sorry. Do you mean "fix" as in "repair" or "fix" as in "attach?"

No nuts/bolts...It looks like they're self threading screws screwed into the PVC pipe.

Thank's to reply,

It's what I deduce but I wasn't sure ;)


Thank you for pointing out the glaring omission regarding the fasteners. I've updated the instructions with an image and text explaining the attachment method. Is the correct term "Merci?"

Yes you got it Donald, Merci beaucoup à vous ;o)

Your picture is very welcome, with all the pipe details, perfect !
I'll follow your job wih interrest ! Good luck and thanks again.


This is cool I made a mountain bike rack awhile back to hold 3 mountain bikes in my pickup bed ( with PVC pipe ). Glued together. eventually the glue all fell apart so this is cool I might make another one!..I don't think i will use 4 pipes and your fittings but good idea!


for temporary / removable fixing... look at this http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:692227


Removable PVC coupling fastener for Granddad constructions

That may not be robust enough and would be difficult to reconfigure for a four-pipe layout. But it's a nice part for a single pipe!

How much money are you saving on a pvc frame versus 20/20 extrusion?

No idea. A ten foot section of the PVC pipe I acquired locally was about US$2.50, So, a bundle of four works out to about US$1/ft.

Hey there, could you post some STEP files or project files?


Tinkercad doesn't allow such files. Maybe this will help: hole for PVC is 22mm, hole for screw is 4mm, boss for screwhole is 10mm, and the wall thickness is 3mm (4mm for the updated corner pieces). Good enough?

Update: Added a new corner piece, with thicker walls and simpler screw layout. Previous version could split during vigorous support removal. Added webs for problem support areas near upper pipe channels; perforated for easy removal.

Update: Added a base plate which can easily be cut down in the Z-axis (Netfabb is good) to make it a suitable height for your project.

Updated the instructions with a few tips & warnings.

I have to ask, what are you building with the pipes?

Update: Developed another project, with additional parts, and made a printer. CoreXY, build volume of 12"x18"x18" . You can find it here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1014884

It's printing very nicely.

The ShapeShifter Project
by DonaldJ

Another printer...

Thats going to be one big printer....

Not that big, maybe 12"(Y)x18"(X)x10"(Z)...

Rigidity is sufficient?

No idea; won't know until it's up and running. I'm still printing parts for it, and I haven't decided on the style...I initially wanted CoreXY, but that would be a little daunting for my first build. Right now I'm thinking of a Prusa/OrdBot variation. Lots of parts to figure out and make: motor mounts, pulley/idler mounts, wiring & power supply...I'm making this all up as I go along. And I'm in no hurry.

Glad you like it! I originally wanted to use 3 pipes, but after zip-tying a few bundles I realized that the geometry for connectors and mounting pieces would be needlessly complex. So I tried it again with 4 pipes and it seemed like a viable solution; much easier to create accessory parts. Only time will tell if this will be any good. Thanks for the comment.

I like. Four pipes looks like the best/easiest method but it makes me wonder it three wouldn't be just as strong with some challenges for connectivity. I'll think about it and see what I come up with.