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PARIS in hot glue gun action

Paper straw structure begins to take shape

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We're obliged to all of you who offered suggestions yesterday as to how to adequately join the recently-arrived paper straws which will form the structure of the Paper Aircraft Released Into Space (PARIS) Vulture 1 vehicle.

We got straight down to testing a few alternatives, including PVA and superglue, but there was one option which really did deliver - hot glue.

Having decided this was the way to go, we kicked off by butt jointing together a few straws. To do this, we simply hacked off a 50mm length of straw and cut a slit in it lengthways, allowing us to "squash" it slightly.

We then applied some hot glue to this "connector" and slipped it gently into the ends of the two straws. Giving these a few twists to ensured plenty of glue/paper contact and it was just a matter of easing the two ends of the straws together, and cleaning off the excess glue before it dried.

The result was a solid, almost seamless joint (indicated by the red arrow) stronger than the straws themselves. The blue arrow shows the sliced connector:

Butt jointing straws using hot glue

Well, we quickly put together a piece of test structure to see how the hot glue worked on some "T" and diagonal joints. Pretty well, but the addition of some paper corner braces really did the trick. Before you protest, this mock-up took about five minutes to assemble. We'll be a little more loving with the Vulture 1 structure:

A quick structural knock-up

Next up on the structural front is a freezing test, to see how well the straws cope with the cold and whether they need an external treatment. We'll then work on the outer skin - what paper to use, how to attach it to the structure and how to treat Vulture 1's exposed exterior.

And now, for the benefit of those readers who've protested that Vulture 1 is not a "100 per cent" paper aircraft, we'd like to explain just why it isn't a dart folded from a single sheet of A4...

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