New torsion box

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Forum topic by MrRon posted 10-04-2012 05:52 PM 2231 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5195 posts in 3446 days

10-04-2012 05:52 PM

I have seen this done before; a torsion box made from empty soda cans. Based on this observation, I came up with a torsion box composed of 2 sheets of 4×8, 1/2” MDF, framed on 4 sides with 3/4” stock. The filler is made up of 710 empty soda cans (beer cans wil also do)set into the frame, all standing up on end in an adhesive; (maybe panel adhesive) with the same adhesive spread over the top and sealed up with a 1/2” sheet of MDF. The total height of the box is 5.812”. Construction is a honeycomb of aluminum cans, but instead of hexagonal shaped cells, they are round cells. The cost would only be for the MDF and 48’ of 1×6 material. A box like this would only be possible depending on how much soda (or beer) is consummed, but could also use cans from donnations. Such a torsion box would be easier to build, inexpensive and lighter than the traditional construction. I may make up a smaller sample to test. Meanwhile, let me know what you think.Mr Ron

8 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5128 posts in 4163 days

#1 posted 10-04-2012 05:58 PM

I jesh cannn’y can’ttt figger out how many beerz I mush grink.
Oh darn! Gesh I mush slobber up a (oops! sober up) bit.
In all seriousness——I can’t see why not. It’ll make for a cool post as well.


View Jacob's profile


85 posts in 2845 days

#2 posted 10-04-2012 06:30 PM

this is very cool, what sort of application would you apply this to? It would be nice if there was a re-purposed materials to replace the mdf, which in my mind would be off-setting the green factor of the recycled aluminum.

i may also like to test this. perhaps you could even do it with recycled tubes from toilet paper?

-- -Jacob Turetsky, Industrial Designer

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11068 posts in 3631 days

#3 posted 10-04-2012 06:39 PM

Maybe mini cans, like 6 oz cans. I can’t envision a need for anything as thick as a 12 oz can + 1”.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View macatlin1's profile


78 posts in 3146 days

#4 posted 10-04-2012 07:27 PM

If I remember correctly Fermilab used soup cans with the tops and bottoms cut off to for the core of some “windows”. The cans were bonded between two pieces of transparent material. The coatings in the cans gave everything a nice golden glow when the sun shone through “off axis”. I think your idea would work if there are teenagers in the house. Should be able to make at least one a week. Use a slow setting epoxy and add filler “cabosil” to get a thicker layer to form a bond line. For a work bench top I would think that a piece of MDF on the top and luan door skin on the bottom would work. If you have a vacuum source you can bag it and get a good squeeze. If you try using a vacuum cleaner you need to make a “leak” large enough to allow air to go through the motor for cooling.

View WoodWorkWarrior's profile


46 posts in 2276 days

#5 posted 10-04-2012 07:39 PM

Beer cans, soda cans, any thin wall AL can only has it’s true strength when pressurized. Lacking high internal pressure, the cans can collapse pretty easily. Stand on a empty beer can, it’ll hold, until you have the slightest side movement. Then in crumples instantly. Not so with a full can. That said, with the MDF spreading out the load and the cans placed in tight formation, you probably could get away with it. I would be cautious about heavy point loads or large shocks. I suppose one could make a table with full cans…but that would be HEAVY and a waste of a lot of beer!

If you could somehow re-pressurize the cans with air, seal them, and then build the table…well, that would be a very strong structure and very light. Of course, re-pressuring a beer can could prove problematic.

Sounds like a fun experiment none the less.

-- Jason

View MrRon's profile


5195 posts in 3446 days

#6 posted 10-04-2012 11:37 PM

My friend made a platform for a bed using the torsion box principal and beer cans. It was sturdy. You could jump on it with no problem. I thought about using PVC pipe, but the cost of PVC would be too expensive. This is a project that can use recycleable materials. Dog food cans would work if you have lots of dogs. Structurally, cans are very strong. It’s just a matter of arranging them in a cellular pattern and ensuring that the top and bottom of each can is bonded to the MDF sheet. As for an adhesive, epoxy would work, but too expensive. An encapulating medium should work, something like the resin table top material. I don’t know when I will get around to testing a sample; too many projects on my plate.

View CliffSCCA's profile


16 posts in 2381 days

#7 posted 10-05-2012 02:33 AM

If you wanted one a little thinner than 5.812”, you could use RedBull cans. The bonus is how quickly you would assemble it after drinking all that RedBull!

-- Mmmm....sawdust

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5195 posts in 3446 days

#8 posted 10-05-2012 08:56 PM

In my neck of the woods, I could build a 4×8 box using beer cans every week. I don’t drink much beer personally (other than Guinness or Scotch), but all my friends do.

Jacob; MDF is already a repurposed material; sawdust recycled.

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