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lɐʇuǝɯᴉɹǝdx&#4
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Anybody else familiar with icengineworks MODELING BLOCK SYSTEM WORKS fro exhaust design? Cool system right? If not familiar, check http://www.icengineworks.com/icewmain.htm - its like lego for exhaust systems. It consists of a bunch of these snap together bits:


You use thos to build up models of manifolds like this:


Cool, huh? There's also software that translates the designs into bend instructions for a cnc machine bending, which kinda tells you the target market is not home builders. The insanely high cost of the kit (like $400 for a starter kit) says the same thing.

So, what if it was a lot cheaper, but took a bit more work to use? How much cheaper? I'm thinking about trying to design a $30 kit that has segments that let you mimic all the pipe found in the Biltwell 1.75" Exhaust Builder Kit (or maybe has more bends and less straights). As an added bonus, kits would come with cut guide(s) like this one to match the pipe bends the kit is made for (only in masonite, not metal).

Crazy cheap, right? If it saves you wrecking one section of pipe with a miss-cut, it damn near pays for itself. Of course, the real benefit is you can experiment complex pipe routes without having to commit to any cuts (or even buy any metal) until you nail the design you want.

How would I make something like this so cheap? Well, all the parts would be laser cut 1.8" masonite. You'd have to assemble them yourself and hold them together either with clips (I'm thinking small binder clips like this would) or small bolts (via pre-cut bolt holes). And of course, masking tape would still work.

The design work would be a pain in the ass, but if I could sell a dozen of them, it would probably be a break even prospect. As such, I'd probably be selling the first lot via kickstarter. But I figured before going there, I'd see what the demand was like, and what single design would appeal to the widest group.

Question(s) 1- I'm assuming 1.75" pipe matching the Biltwell kit is a good place to start, since its such a popular kit? I know its probably not a popular choice with the crowd here, but when it comes to custom pipes, the Harley crowd is a bigger market than inline 4, right?

Question(s) 2- When they say 3.5-inch / 5 inch radius (90mm) U-bends, do they mean the radius through the center of the 1.75" pipe? How accurate is that? Is the pipe 1.75" inside d, or outside d? I'd need to know the exact dimensions to produce a really accurate kit.

Question 3- Would people even want the straight bits? If I could get the cost under $20 by not including them, would that increase the appeal?

Long term I'd branch out into other pipe sizes and bend radii. Since they are laser cut, I wouldn't have any inventory or mold setup expenses; I could just grab some masonite and throw it in the burner when needed. Not sure how I'm market them, though - really seems like the thing to do would be to sell them to somebody like Biltwell or Cone Engineering to market alongside the bent pipe & kits they sell.
 

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Is my bike ok?
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I've read articles about these in some drag racing rags. Never did understand why that Lego set was so expensive.

If you come up with something to sell I may very well be a buyer. I could really see myself using something like this.

I've always wondered what they were referencing with the term bend radius,too. I always assumed it was I.D., but obviously don't know that for sure.
 

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lɐʇuǝɯᴉɹǝdx&#4
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Never did understand why that Lego set was so expensive.
I think because cutting molds for injection molded plastic is a big capital investment, and the target market is pretty small. If each buyer has to pay for .1% of the mold cutting expense, the minimum price is gonna be damn high. Plus there is the capital you sink into either having a molding machine, or paying somebody to run a lot for you to keep in inventory. My only up front cost would be my design time. If design takes me 20 hours and I know I can sell 20 of them at $30 a piece, I'm happy, and since its laser cut, I don't have to buy any materials (other than for prototypes) until after I have orders & am paid.

When I first saw that kit I thought "hey, 3d printing would do that cheaper", but after seeing some (cheap) 3d printers at work, the production speed would be WAY to slow, and you need to keep an eye on them during the whole print. Laser cutting is FAST, and pretty cheap (really cheap for me, since I have cutter access at damn near operational cost level, and don't pay somebody else to do the work).

Am putting out feelers in other places, so far you two on CF are the only interests. Then again, only posted 12 hours ago. If I don't get a bunch of interest in the Biltwell kit, I'll probably just do one for whatever pipe size my own bike uses (think its 1.25") and the bends I could get from Cone Eng / Megs Muffs, for my own use, then throw that up on Kickstarter.

EDIT - tried doing it with my current drawing program, but it doesn't do circles by center/radius, it does them by "drag a square that fills with circle". Who the FUCK draws circles that way? Makes it damn near impossible to do two with the same center. So I have to learn new software for this? Shit.
 

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lɐʇuǝɯᴉɹǝdx&#4
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Masonite? Would they be squared off instead of round? I'm having a hard time understanding how'd they look.
Imagine a sqaure bent tube that would fit snug inside the modeled pipes diam. Now slip some circular discs over it to fill it out to the full circular profile. Basically that's what I'm planning.
 

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sickboy
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3,544 Posts
Not sure why i cant envision that... could you draw it for us?
 

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lɐʇuǝɯᴉɹǝdx&#4
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3,516 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Parts for the prototype are layed out and ready to cut. Layout took about 8 hours, is for a 2.5" radius bend in 1.75" od tube. Meant to do a 3.5" radius, but messed up; no big, they actually sell the size I did, and its just a prototype; I can already think of a lot of changes I'd like to make. I managed to fit enough parts to fully built 360 degrees worth of bend on this sheet, plus an extra skeleton for 90 degree bend in case there's a mis-cut. Figured I'd put a picture of the pattern up in case anybody has suggestions. The pattern may not make the design clear, but once I get it cut and post photos, people might have ideas on what I should add more of / take out / etc.

Oh, and there's a coaster with my "SECApocalypse" logo included in each cut. :)

 

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lɐʇuǝɯᴉɹǝdx&#4
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·


Did some laser cutting today. This isn't the final design, but it maybe gets across how it will look and function.



I'm happyu with the basic build - its quite sturdy, which was one of my main concerns (can't have a noodle for an exhaust pipe, even if its just a modle). That ring holds together nicely without any glue, and with glue would be very stiff. The ring is your basic mandrel bend, you cut it just like normal and put the do-hickies in the middle (I call them end plates) on in either one of the empty slots, or in place of one of the circles already on the ring. As shown by the staked end plates, the holes in them line up in such a way that you can bolt them together (1/8" bolts) with infinite rotational freedom (no indexing) and at least 4 bolts. The final design will also allow non-indexed bend angles, instead of the 7.5 degree indexing of the current version, and is actually easier to build (both for me and for the user).
 

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lɐʇuǝɯᴉɹǝdx&#4
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I'm gonna try to hit that price point. Actually, I'm looking at ~$15 for 360 degrees worth of bend (plus some straight 'pipe' as well) or a 180 degree cut guide, so folks can mix and match. Probably offer a buy 3, get one free deal to begin with, or for any CF members. Right now those are the same thing- you guys are the only suckers who seem willing to pony up dough :).

To do that, I REALLY need to get production time down. That prototype tied up the machine for a full hour, and I need to keep an eye on it the whole time. I don't have time for that, since I'd only be able to do a handful of those each week (not enough free time) nor is the cutter available for that many hours. There's just no way I could make stuff to sell for that price if each item that long, so the cut time has GOT to come down, ideally to ~15 minutes an item.

A redesigned model (that one is way more complex than needed, so wastes cut time) and smarter material choices should help that a lot. Yay for prototyping.

Final product will probably be corrogated plastic for the minor components (which sucked up a LOT of cut time on that model and din't add any strength, so making them light would be good in itself) and acrylic for the structural parts. That should let me run the laser MUCH faster, without giving up any strength, and also result in better precision in cuts. Assembly would require something that can bond to plastic, and ideally fills small gaps. Gorilla Glue should work. The acrylic costs a lot more than the masonite / mdf I'd been planning on using, but I don't need a lot of it if its only for major components, and the extra material expense would hopefully be more than made up in reduced production time
 

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moron with a hammer
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Do your thing, dude. As long as they're stable and accurate enough that I can go directly from mockup to stainless, they're a lot cheaper than mocking up in mild steel.

Any chance on multiple CLRs? Obviously it would make sense to parallel the Biltwell kit, but I often come off cramped heads with 2.5" radius 1 5/8". The 1/16th" clearance difference is no big deal, but an inch of radius is.
 
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