[WORKLOG] Rocket Science: Creating fittings for Aussie copper pipe (8/8 Black plated out soon)

Discussion in 'Extreme and Water Cooling' started by Saate, Jan 29, 2014.

  1. Saate

    Saate Member

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    This is my second worklog, but with a bit of a twist in that it’s not a build log for a water cooled PC. Instead, it's a build log to share the design and manufacturing process I went through in creating water cooling fittings. Hopefully you guys will be as fascinated as I was by the whole process!

    This worklog won’t be an 18 month odyssey like Massively was, I spent the latter half of 2013 protoyping and working through the manufacturing process. The first proper production run of the fittings has wrapped up and they’re already available :) I've started chatting with Kam from PCCG too so hopefully will have them available through there in the near future.

    [​IMG]

    Why make fittings?

    The answer to this distils down pretty well – “’cos they didn’t have the ones I wanted” :) When I was getting started with my ‘Massively’ build I was hugely inspired by a few European modders who had used copper pipe in their builds. I thought it looked amazing and decided I wanted to do the same thing. To me, well worked copper is soul rending in its beauty – check out some of the copper work I did as a complete novice:

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    I ran into issue after issue in wanting to use copper though– essentially because in Australia our plumbing system is still based on imperial sizing and the type of copper pipe I needed wasn’t available anywhere in the country. I ended up having to go to great lengths and expense to import the right pipe. You can read more about my copper pipe hunt in this post if you’re interested.

    When I did finally get my hands on the right copper I really enjoyed working with it and was incredibly happy with the finish. I’d had several people message me on the forums asking if they could buy any of the copper pipe I had left over. It was this interest from the community that initially led to me looking into the option of mass importing copper pipe from overseas - but the weight, expense, shipping and re-shipping costs all conspired to make that option not a very viable choice.

    That’s when it occurred to me that fittings to use with locally available copper would make a lot more sense. They’d be substantially cheaper to post compared to lengths of copper pipe, take up less space and best of all would suddenly mean locally available copper pipe could be used by modders.

    Why bother with a worklog?

    Why not? :D Followers of my first worklog will know that I’m a detail guy, and for me the design and manufacturing process was fascinating! My only regret is that I don’t have quite as many photos of the process as I’d have liked – hundreds more would be good, but I’ll make do with the ones I have :)

    You guys came up with some awesome ideas over the course of my Massively worklog and I don’t expect that will change for this one. I’m really eager to hear what you guys think and pretty excited at the possibility for further innovations and creations as a result!

    It’s all about who you know!

    For this project I teamed up with a friend, Hugh, who like me also works in the Water industry. He’s a project and design engineer who puts together big stuff like Containerized Desalination devices for overseas and is an absolute wiz as far as modelling goes. Even better, though, is the fact that Hugh is originally from China which has created amazing benefits for us in terms of dealing with overseas factories. Good communication has allowed us to avoid huge pitfalls that you might expect could easily come from miscommunications around any combination of technology, language and culture.

    We still encountered our fair share of issues, believe me! I’ll touch on some of those later on as I go into more detail :)

    Worklog Components

    I’ll divide the posts/updates for this worklog into a few key sections and can expand or add sections as needed based on any extra stuff you guys are interested in hearing about.
    • Initial design and prototyping process
    • Packaging prototyping and testing
    • Prototype testing and design revisions
    • Bringing everything together into the finished product

    I might leave it there for the initial post and wait a few days until I get into the design and prototyping stuff. I think it makes for a much more fun (and engaging) worklog experience if I can tailor successive updates to include answers to questions you guys have as well as focus a bit more on areas of interest you highlight.

    Excited to have a new worklog to post on and keen to hear how you guys have been and any questions, comments or thoughts you have! Speak soon :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2014
  2. Kommandant33

    Kommandant33 Member

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    Subbed for Saate goodness.

    By the way... what's Kam like? I would get star-struck if I ever got to meet meat him...
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Saate

    Saate Member

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    Haha, hey mate :) haven't met him, just swapped a few emails so far but here's hoping!
     
  4. havabeer

    havabeer Member

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    when you say you had issues with sizing for fittings where you talking to big or too small.

    as would it be cheaper to get some slighter larger pipe and machine to the correct OD size? (then again like you said its about who you know as i have access to lathes etc for machining down stuff like that)
     
  5. pieceofchance

    pieceofchance Member

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    Keen to see how the entire process unfolded actually... I was fortunate enough to hear some of the process as it happened, and even more so to have some of these fittings myself (which I do have plans to do something "massive" with at some point, when I can find the time - the ideas are there in utero) and I have to say when I first saw them I was completely blown away with the quality of not just the fittings themselves, but the awesomeness of the packaging and even the little blurb on the back of the box, the stickers, the works...

    In terms of suggestions or ideas, I think having the option of perhaps powder coated colours would be nice (though raw steel fits the theme of copper nicely, there are also things like this which might suit coloured fittings better), and also to have more internal o-rings to account for dickholes like myself who muck around with them using sharp edged copper pipe we have laying around for shits and giggles (or perhaps just have them available for an extra buck or three)...

    Off the top of my head there is very little room for improvement on these really, just room for expansion, perhaps some rocketscience merchandise, VGF/W promotional tie-ins, boatloads more photos (still waiting on the coffee table book), tit pics (hers, not yours), and of course some epic builds to showcase these (I will be trying my hand when it is not engaged in other things - pun intended)...

    In terms of semi-offtopic ideas, I have been playing around with designs incorporating a heap of d-plug fittings as a means of making it easier to work on and disassemble the completed loop as copper seems unforgiving when you have the kind of nice tight bends you really want for such things...


    Anyway, good shit :thumbup: Looking forward to the rest of the log :D
     
  6. DanglingPointer

    DanglingPointer Member

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    One word for those pics...
    Beautiful!

    Not too mention they'll defuse heat whilst flowing...
     
  7. disco frank

    disco frank Member

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    the issue is the size of the copper pipe compared to the size of the fittings
    they dont work

    IIRC 1/2" copper pipe is about 12mm
    and 1" copper pipe is 20mm...

    then here in aus there is 3 grades of copper pipe A,B,C
    c been the most common and cheapest is also the thinnest walled
    b, thicker walled and what is used in most homes for plumbing
    a, thicker again and used for refrigeration work

    the OD will always be the same its the ID that changes with the grade

    this is a great idea dude!
    shame im not inot wc any more otherwise i would do a build with polished copper !
     
  8. BigDave

    BigDave Member

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  9. mshagg

    mshagg Politburo

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    This is stunning.

    Will the copper tarnish over time simply through oxidisation or is the polish likely to provide adequate protection?
     
  10. Recharge

    Recharge Member

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    you'd have to clear coat the copper, no other way to stop it tarnishing.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    Saate

    Saate Member

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    Yeah as Frank alluded to the issue I ran into on Massively was that the Bitspower c47 fittings the Europeans are using for copper pipe are for 12.0mm OD tubing. Our hard drawn copper pipe in Australia and the US is 12.7mm OD so just doesn’t fit. Removing .35mm of wall thickness on a lathe was an option at the time but would have been a lot of added work especially since I was new to working with copper.

    Here’s an example of some of the carnage in terms of offcuts and bad bends:

    [​IMG]

    If you’ve got the time it’s worth having a read through the 'Great Copper Pipe Chase' update I did during my Massively worklog. I talk about a lot of the troubles sourcing copper pipe and there’s some good discussion in that thread of options like lathing the pipe and/or fittings to make it work.


    Thanks mate, yeah I truly enjoyed working with copper pipe during my build. A lot of the other components got frustrating at times and some of the more technical bends got annoying, but there was nothing more satisfying or therapeutic than sitting down and taking the finish from that dull brown all the way to shining. Still makes me smile looking at pics like this:

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    Thanks guys :)


    Yeah I gave the polished copper a topcoat of this stuff that I picked up at Bunnings:

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    Then just hung it out to dry:

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    It’s been 6 months and it still looks great. Even if oxidation over time from contact with air wasn’t a problem you’d be crazy not to put a protective coat on it. The oil from skin on your fingers is enough to leave an imprint (which will appear a week later) so if you don’t have a topcoat and accidently touch it while putting components you’ll ruin the finish.
     
  12. hazwan

    hazwan Member

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    Ive thought about copper tubing for a while now to compliment a lian li pc-60C. I simulated using Primochill Rigid Ghost/revolver with 1/2in OD copper tubing I found in bunnings on the top of my head and I think it might work. Or am I wrong?
     
  13. Acesi7

    Acesi7 Member

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    Looking good sate. Can't wait to see your range and packaging! Very exciting times! :leet:
     
  14. OP
    OP
    Saate

    Saate Member

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    Its a good question - I sent some fittings to Bill Owen at MNPC to play with and he mentioned the fit with the primochill tubing is pretty tight. I bought some of it and the OD seems to be slightly larger than the 12.7mm copper I have so I'm not sure yet. I'll post some pictures of my tests later on in the worklo.

    Interestingly while I was writing this up I discovered this thread on the primochill tubing. It really makes me happy to see the comments on that page about push-fittings for half inch tubing not existing, there's definitely the demand out there I think!
     
  15. shane41

    shane41 Member

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    What did you use Saate as your water / coolant / etc in the system ??

    Just that I read mixing copper with other alloys in your system is no good.
    I may have that wrong, ready to be corrected. :confused:

    + I have the same cpu block to try soon & the copper pipes look so tempting.
     
  16. OP
    OP
    Saate

    Saate Member

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    Hey mate, I used demineralised water with a few drops of liquid utopia and it's been working beautifully. Copper is fine in a water cooling loop as its quite close to brass (which most fittings/blocks are made of) on the galvanic corrosion index. What you need to look out for is aluminium in contact with your coolant/loop as it'll corrode real nice :)
     
  17. havabeer

    havabeer Member

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    yeah after reading you post about acquiring the tube and saw it was .7 larger i thought it would be rather easy to just take off 0.7mm off the last like 10 - 15mm of tube (the part that would go into the fitting), at least with only doing the ends you can still polish up the rest properly.

    but i suppose it just makes a fiddly job, just a bit more fiddly, but when you have easy access to lathes etc like i do i guess it might be a different story
     
  18. Jakusonfire

    Jakusonfire Member

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    Monsoon is releasing their 'budget' push fit imperial OD fittings very soon. They will come in both 1/2 OD and 5/8 OD


    Click to view full size!


    The push fit fittings are the ones in the back right corner.

    I have never really been a fan of monsoon design but plenty of people seem to be. I see the so called budget version being far more popular than the over complicated compression hardline fittings they are promoting at the moment. Having to glue parts is way more effort than is necessary for DIY'ers. Maybe for full on pro system builders like Origin etc they would be more appealing where they build multiple systems that are much the same and have to be shipped.

    I have yet to see a hardline fitting that was more appealing than good old C47's. To me the compression style look too bulky and awkward. Your ones look great and if I ever switch from acrylic to copper they will be first choice. Well done! Its great to see Aussies getting involved in this stuff.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2014
  19. OP
    OP
    Saate

    Saate Member

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    Update - Initial design and prototyping process

    So starting out with the basic premise “I want to make fittings” and not having any idea where to go from there is pretty daunting. Apart from the product design and 3D modelling perspective there’s the issue of huge costs for prototyping and where small runs (of, say, less than 10,000 fittings) are concerned.

    This is where Hugh’s experience really saved me. In addition to his design and modelling stuff he’s done lots of prototyping stuff in the past so already had relationships and ready access to manufacturers in China. Without that I don’t think I would have considered going that route for the manufacturing, mainly because I don’t speak their language (technical or otherwise). With a technical project there’s just far too much opportunity for miscommunications to happen, and sometimes even when you confirm 100 times that you want “100 blue widgets” you can still end up with 76 pink widgets. I had very specific requirements for my fittings and knew I wouldn’t be comfortable selling them if I wasn’t 100% happy they were achieved.

    We initially toyed around with a few types of designs, ideas like an internal rubber sleeve instead of an o-ring:

    [​IMG]

    Based on my experience with the Massively build though I knew it could be a tight fit getting the pipe in and designing it this way would make that more difficult. If we made the fitting bigger to address that issue then we’d run the risk of leaks which was also a killer. We also briefly considered options like a rubber sleeve to put onto the tubing first to then push into the fitting together but abandoned it for similar reasons:

    [​IMG]

    Eventually we decided to do the first prototype run based on the unsung hero, the everyman, the common o-ring :)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Now at this point I should remind you guys, the events in this worklog took place over a period of nearly 6 months. So while I’m sharing the steps involved keep in mind that lots of planning, discussion and most importantly waiting/anticipation went into it :) So when I tell you that maybe 6-8 weeks into the process and saw the following low res mobile phone pic of the prototypes I was ridiculously excited – they were really real and happening! :p

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    We arranged or three copies of the prototype to be made, the material is brass. The main reason for three copies was so we could see how they looked with different finishes but also to ensure the tolerances on their equipment were tight enough that each fitting didn’t differ in dimensions.

    Checking the ID to make sure it can accommodate a 12.7mm tube – yep!

    [​IMG]

    After the prototypes were finished they went off to another factory for the plating/finishing. The factories don’t do plating runs for something as small as this so there was a bit of waiting involved until they could go in with another big batch. After that it was time to wait for them to arrive in the mail.

    Then they arrived! Woohoo!

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    Took them outside straight away to take a few nice photos:

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    So this is the reason we prototype! As you’ve probably noticed, there’s something funky going on with the internal o-ring fit. Probably that, well, they don’t fit! :p We figured out that we’d based dimensions for the internal o-ring grooves on the wrong kind of o-ring, so they were out just enough that the 12.7mm o-rings were not slotting in. Doh!

    The other problem was that the black nickel plating was problematic, of the three fittings shown in the picture they’re unfinished brass, silver nickel and black nickel. The brass and silver both look great but the black nickel plating didn’t seem to have worked – in this next photo you can see where a piece of the plating has come away.

    [​IMG]

    We weren’t sure how it had happened but there wasn’t a great feel to that particular finish so we decided to figure that mystery out before we went on to mass production. The other design element I picked up on was that the flat face/opening edges didn’t really help guide the pipe into the fitting so we changed that too. It’s might be difficult to follow what that means, but if you compare the prototype 1 and 2 plans you can see the tiny difference between the square right-edges in the first and the angled edges in the second. You can also see the extra half millimetre we had to add for the o-rings:

    Prototype 1:

    [​IMG]

    Prototype 2:

    [​IMG]

    So ahead we went and ordered the second round of prototypes. I think I'll save the results of those for the next update, though, as looking back I've prattled on a fair bit.

    Really keen to hear what you think so far! I'll be covering the actual manufacturing processes within the factory in a later update too, from brass rod to finished fitting :) If you've got any questions about the process or elements I've covered (or not covered) let me know and we can play more of this death-by-detail game I've grown to love so much :p
     
  20. oculi

    oculi Member

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    quick stupid question: does anything besides O-ring friction retain the tube in the fitting?
     

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