Design Loop Reality: Paperclip Bike

For the project of creating a desktop sized mountain bike using paper clips soldered together, the process has been largely trial and error. Once I got the idea, I researched online, seeing if other people had attempted similar ideas. There seemed to be a decent amount of information regarding soldering paperclips, but this application seemed to be somewhat unique. Throughout this process, I continued to make a list of material and tools I would need.

I started off purchasing paper clips with a rubber coating without realizing it, so I had to go back to the store. Once I got non-coated paper clips, I was off to the races. Since ventilation would be important while soldering, and it was cold in the garage, I decided to set up a workstation in the laundry room. I laid out cardboard on top of the washer and driver, cracked the window, and turned on the exhaust fan. For the next 6 hours, I would be regretting my project decision and struggled, bending paper clips (which are surprisingly hard to manipulate precisely).

The hard part was bending them to the shape, and then holding it in the position relative to other paper clips so I can apply the solder. I ended up using a lot of tape to temporarily hold the pieces together while I applied the solder.

It seems to be going okay so far, but I have a lot of work to do.

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • That’s an expert answer to an ineettsring question

  • Really like the concept you’re going towards. Some update pictures probably would have been nice to go along with your design loop. The design loop seemed good although some more thought into the process before the actual work probably would have saved you some time.

  • Blake Arellano
    February 12, 2017 6:41 pm

    Your hands on approach to planning seems to be a lot of trial an error. I could definitely see where the prototyping process could get tiresome, and I wouldn’t suppose that a little more planning could have helped, i.e. possibly finding a better way to support the clips while soldering? Or do you believe you planned well enough and just had to get the skill of soldering the clips.

  • Sam Van Dreser
    February 10, 2017 3:43 pm

    Its great to see a design loop where the looping part is during the prototyping. Like many other projects I feel like during the testing and assembly phase some more iteration happens. This is great because you are learning what works and doesn’t work and the final product will be amazing to see. A suggestion to your holding problem, many solder stations have tools called “helping hands”, I know the ITLL has a bunch of them. I completely understand though if you dont want to leave home.


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