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Old 12-11-2013, 12:39 PM
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heat forming - trial on PVC pipe

While I was browsing around for bird toys I came across this page: Macaw Bird Toys by Nalani Toys

If you look down the list you'll see some formed PVC tubing. I never thought of this myself, but I know exactly how it is formed: heat and gloved hand. I looked around for how-to's on PVC forming and found this: HOW TO BEND PVC PIPE


My little experiment:
So after reading through about bending pipe, I decided to try for myself on a small half pipe of 1" PVC. My sample was only 4" long, so I decided I would form into a flat sheet. With the heat gun about 2" away from the material on high setting I was able to undo most of the curvature and form a flat-ish piece. I then examined to find any fumes from burnt plastic and on further examination I did find some bubbling. This is not a certain indicator, however, as I did not examine the sample's surface before applying heat.

Any thoughts on this? If heat forming can be done safely (it seems to be safe enough to market toys), I imagine very intricate play structures could be made without the use of any elbows.
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Old 12-11-2013, 12:51 PM
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Re: heat forming - trial on PVC pipe

My thing would be after heating up and such, does it become a bit toxic to birds?? I know they're heated up to form it in the first place. It might be safe but I'm just a bit cautious.....
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Old 12-11-2013, 12:56 PM
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Re: heat forming - trial on PVC pipe

A couple of thoughts on this one...

Yes you can make some pretty fancy ones from PVC, with or without heating them up. And I have one that I bought that was heated and formed, and have been using for over a decade, though it still has screws to attach the "branches" to the body of the bird tree.

IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO HEAT THEM UP:

1. I would do two things. First I would wear respiratory protection, i.e. a mask, and use it in a well ventilated area preferably outside.

2. HEATING UP PVC PRODUCES FUMES THAT ARE POTENTIALLY FATALLY TOXIC TO PARROTS!!! So, do this away from your bird or you may accidentally kill him...

3. Same deal with the glue they use on PVC. THE FUMES ARE UBER-TOXIC TO PARROTS, and not necessarily something humans want to breathe in either. Ventilated area, away from the bird, wear a mask.

BUT YOU CAN MAKE SOME PRETTY AMAZING STUFF WITH PVC.
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Old 12-11-2013, 01:59 PM
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Re: heat forming - trial on PVC pipe

Quote:
does it become a bit toxic to birds??
I imagine the biggest risk is oxidization of the compound as it approaches combustion temperature. That certainly would change the chemical properties, which could be indicated by a color change. Shavings left over from cutting the material are quite easily burned while heating, so it's a good idea to clean up the edges well.

Giving the material a couple of days before bringing it in to give it some time to release most of the bad gases won't hurt anyone.
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Old 12-11-2013, 03:34 PM
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Re: heat forming - trial on PVC pipe

While I agree with all the comments about possible toxicity concerns, I think it's a BRILLIANT idea to try heat-forming pvc pipe! Those elbow jobbies cost $$$ and it'd be easy as pie to simply bend the pvc around a metal pipe to form rounded corners or circular shapes. I'm going to get hubby onto this!

Imagine a pvc boing covered in vetwrap. Or a jungle gym of interwoven pieces. Or a spiral staircase with curved 'steps'. The possibilities are endless!

Thanks for the post, Screech. It's great food for thought!
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Old 12-11-2013, 05:33 PM
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Re: heat forming - trial on PVC pipe

Another method that keeps you from burning the PVC is to heat a pot of antifreeze and put the PVC in it to soften, then form , stretch, bend to your hearts desire.

The PVC is like play dough using this method.
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Old 12-11-2013, 05:45 PM
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Re: heat forming - trial on PVC pipe

I did some more work to see what was possible with just a heat gun.



The upper left is 1 1/2" PVC and just to accomplish that took far too long and burned too many fingers. The plan was to shape it like a hardwood branch, but all I could do was flatten it a little bit. To get to that point took me five minutes; not really worth my time to try and finish it.

The middle one is a demonstration of using 3/4 pipe to connect a 1/2 pipe. The 1/2 was also used for a bend trial.

The lower right is a work in progress perch stand. I'll either use the sides as legs or I'll form a loop and join it in with a Tee to more solid 1 1/2" pipe mounted to a base.
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Old 12-11-2013, 07:02 PM
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Re: heat forming - trial on PVC pipe

Also, if you want the pipe to stay round when bending it, fill it with sand.
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Old 12-11-2013, 07:11 PM
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Re: heat forming - trial on PVC pipe

I wonder whether you might get a better result if you bend the pvc pipe around a metal pipe of, say, 1" or 2" diameter. The bend needn't be so acute then and steady pressure should make a nice rounded corner without flattening the pipe at the weak spot (corner).
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Old 12-11-2013, 07:12 PM
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Re: heat forming - trial on PVC pipe

Quote: Originally Posted by Captsteve View Post
Also, if you want the pipe to stay round when bending it, fill it with sand.
Beat me to it- preferably dry sand. That'll stop the corners collapsing. It can also be mandrel-bent, like exhaust tubing, but few of us have the right mandrels lying around I'm quite annoyed at the cost of elbow joints for PVC tubing - many come out of China, worth a few cents each, end up closer to $2 or more, depending on diameter, in the hardware store.

I've been looking at making hifi speakers from PVC tubing, up to 100mm dia. but the elbows are very expensive, and you need a lot of them to make a compact "snake" of tubing. I'd also like to try bird feeders and waterers, I have one which came with an "aviary" which is 100mm tubing, OK for the water, no good for seed as the feeder's designed for chook pellets and would hold 4kg of seed- which would go off long before the birds could eat it.

Last edited by Mike17; 12-11-2013 at 07:16 PM.
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