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Can You Make a Rope with Aluminum Foil?

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12:42   |   Feb 08, 2019

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Can You Make a Rope with Aluminum Foil?
Can You Make a Rope with Aluminum Foil? thumb Can You Make a Rope with Aluminum Foil? thumb Can You Make a Rope with Aluminum Foil? thumb

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  • In today's video,
  • we're taking really thin sheets of aluminum, and see
  • if we can twist them into something stronger,
  • a metal rope.
  • [Music]
  • On YouTube, Skylar Parks asked,
  • if we can make a rope using aluminum foil.
  • Skylar, that's an interesting question.
  • As most people know,
  • aluminum foil is not terribly strong.
  • It's made of metal, but it's so thin
  • that it shreds apart easily.
  • This is definitely
  • not something you would think of as holding any support.
  • Even when we take sort of a bunch of it at once,
  • it's pretty easy to bust right through it.
  • So can we take this super thin flimsy material,
  • and turn it into something stronger,
  • a cable or rope
  • that we can actually pull against with some strength.
  • Here's the basic idea.
  • In the past,
  • we've used uncommon materials to make rope.
  • Today, we're going to take something really light and thin,
  • and see if we can get the same result.
  • We've made rope
  • out of some uncommon or weak materials in the past.
  • We've used soda bottles cutting into strands.
  • We've used pretty weak string to make a fairly strong rope.
  • We've used coconut fibers
  • that we were able to twist together
  • into long continuous pieces.
  • All of those were able to take a fair amount of strength.
  • Our rope made out of paper towel was able to hold my weight,
  • and pull a car.
  • So we know that we can take something
  • weaker and bind it together into something stronger.
  • Today, we want to see
  • if we can make that work with aluminum foil.
  • The aluminum does present a few challenges
  • that other materials we've used don't have.
  • Most of the time,
  • when we've tried to make any sort of rope involves
  • taking long strips
  • or pieces of the material and twisting it together.
  • However, with the foil,
  • sometimes we run into a problem that if we keep twisting it,
  • rather than getting stronger, it becomes brittle,
  • and just breaks right apart.
  • I believe this is mostly
  • because rather than being strands or fibers
  • that are really strong pulled one direction,
  • the foil is sort of uniformly week in every direction.
  • Easy that direction.
  • Easy that direction.
  • Easy at an angle.
  • It just rips really easily.
  • So, it's not the same as others materials we've used.
  • Even paper towels,
  • which aren't very strong on their own, we were able
  • to twist into something that made a pretty strong rope,
  • because it is a fibrous material,
  • and twisting it together helped it bind even stronger.
  • With the foil, it's a different beast.
  • Before we get started with the whole rope,
  • we at least want to see if we can have a proof-of-concept.
  • Can we take one sheet of foil
  • and make it stronger by changing the shape at all?
  • [Music]
  • Two sheets of foil about the same size.
  • Now, we want to attach one
  • of these sheets of foil onto our scale to see
  • how hard we can pull on it before it breaks.
  • To try and make sure
  • that we're pulling evenly with the whole width of the foil,
  • I'm going to take a dowel,
  • and I'm going to tape it to either side.
  • That should make it
  • so that when pressure is being put on one spot,
  • it's transferred to the whole sheet at the same time.
  • Let's test this out.
  • [Music]
  • Now, I'm going to hold onto the dowel on this side.
  • I'm going to pull until something breaks.
  • And hopefully,
  • we're using the whole strength of the foil here.
  • [Music]
  • I think I saw that get 28 pounds,
  • which is surprising.
  • I really didn't think we were going to be able
  • to get that much force out of one sheet of foil.
  • Hard to know exactly where it did fail,
  • but we can see
  • that it did tear along this whole taped edge.
  • So I imagine it gave out in one spot first,
  • and then quickly spread to the sides.
  • The question now is if we take this sheet of foil,
  • and we modify it,
  • maybe by rolling it up, is it going to get stronger
  • or weaker than the whole sheet of foil spread out wide.
  • I'm going to start by wrapping the piece of foil
  • around this wooden dowel to make it into a nice tube shape,
  • and then I'll twist it from there.
  • I'm going to take this end,
  • fit it into the chuck of a drill,
  • hold on to the other end, and just let it spin.
  • [Music]
  • Wow, that's a lot shorter.
  • Okay.
  • Now this looks more like a rope.
  • Obviously, this is more rope shape than the sheet of foil.
  • Let's see what strength we can get off of this thing.
  • [Music]
  • I've got the foil attached at both sides,
  • and hopefully,
  • we'll get all of the strength being put into the foil,
  • and not too much into the tape and stuff like that.
  • I think it's going to work.
  • We may have to adjust if it doesn't.
  • Now, one thing I noticed,
  • just as I was putting on here and testing
  • if I had any tension at all, it started spinning.
  • Our foil is coiled up really tightly,
  • and when I start putting weight
  • on it, it starts uncoiling just a little bit.
  • Let's see what happens.
  • I might end up stretching this foil back out
  • as it twists a bit.
  • [Music]
  • That gave out early.
  • The scale got up to 9 pounds.
  • It took some pressure off to try
  • and hold the scales so the camera can see it better,
  • and then it seemed
  • to break it about 7 pounds when I was pulling on it again.
  • This highlights another worry that I had about the foil.
  • If you've ever held a little piece of thin metal,
  • like a paper clip,
  • and you bend it back and forth,
  • you may notice that it starts to get brittle,
  • it loses its ductility,
  • and you can't bend it as easily anymore.
  • And then when you put pressure on that twisted spot,
  • it just wants to break,
  • because you've already made the metal a little bit weaker.
  • Our first test shows
  • that a stretched-out piece of foil laid out flat
  • is actually holding more weight than a twisted up piece of foil.
  • A flat piece of foil may in theory be able
  • to hold more weight, but it's horrendously impractical.
  • You never want to try and pull anything with a sheet of foil.
  • So I think we can still turn our twisted aluminum foil
  • into something that can still take quite a bit of pull.
  • There's a few different things I want to try.
  • The first is sort of making the foil into a rope,
  • a little bit more the same way other ropes are made,
  • that's with thin strips twisted together,
  • and then twisting those thin pieces together.
  • The second is I want to try using our rope machine.
  • You've probably seen us use this before.
  • You put some strands in,
  • you atttach drill onto the back, spin it.
  • It twists everything up, and coils them together.
  • Will this machine work with foil?
  • That twisting effect that makes it brittle
  • and break is something we've already seen happen by hand.
  • It could be even worse in the machine.
  • But even with that, I still think we'll be able
  • to twist pieces together into a strong rope,
  • whether we use this or not.
  • To cut nice long strips out of the sheet of foil,
  • I'm going to fold it over a few times,
  • so I don't have to cut in the whole length over and over.
  • This way, I'll be able to cut much shorter length,
  • but still get this strips running through the whole length
  • of the sheet.
  • Before I cut it though,
  • there is one other thing we have to do,
  • and that's to put a layer of paper towel in between foil.
  • If you try and cut foil,
  • fold it over without anything in between,
  • it tends to bind to itself.
  • So here I've got a piece, just folding it a couple
  • of times in half.
  • That's four layers thick right there.
  • Now, if I cut through, I have this strip of foil,
  • but the edges have sort of curled over each other,
  • and they don't always like to let go.
  • [Music]
  • I don't think the drill is the way to do this.
  • [Music]
  • We've got a much more string shaped piece of foil.
  • Maybe now, it will twist nicely?
  • [Music]
  • Twisted better than before,
  • but I think we're actually
  • getting a better result just by rolling it in our hands,
  • so it's not actually twisted up,
  • but it is still rolled up.
  • [Music]
  • We now have three decently long
  • fairly round strands of the aluminum,
  • and the goal is to see
  • if we can twist these together into a stronger cord.
  • [Music]
  • We've now got a cable made
  • from three strands of aluminum foil twisted together.
  • Attatch to the scale, pull test.
  • Oh, getting a lot of spinning.
  • And it broke.
  • Very low stress test on that one.
  • Oh, I think it just barely maxed out at about 6 pounds.
  • What do you think?
  • Are we going to get any better luck using our rope machine?
  • [Music]
  • Here it goes.
  • Oh, well, we got three or four inches of our rope,
  • and then our individual strands just snapped.
  • That's not a lot of rope, but it's a little bit,
  • so we can try and take this, and put it on the scale,
  • and see what is measuring at.
  • [Music]
  • Hey, our tape gave out.
  • Let's reinforce it and try again.
  • [Music]
  • There it is.
  • We got to 56 pounds.
  • That is something
  • that is definitely a higher result than the 28 pounds,
  • of course, we had with the plain flat sheet,
  • and this is still one sheet of foil just cut into thirds,
  • and then rolled up.
  • So we finally managed to get a little better
  • than the plain sheet.
  • However, we did use our rope machine to do this,
  • and then, all of our cables broke.
  • So the rope machine itself is
  • not a very effective way to keep making this rope.
  • I want to scale that up.
  • We're just gonna use a lot of aluminum foil,
  • we're you use whole sheets this time,
  • and I think I'm going to try and do three wrapped together,
  • and then three of those wrapped together,
  • so nine total sheets.
  • I lost about two feet in length doing that.
  • Let's do it eight more times.
  • We've got nine chords laid out now.
  • So we're going to start twisting them together.
  • We're going to twist 3 together, 3 together, 3 together,
  • and then we're going to twist all of those together,
  • and make ourselves sort of a big monster cable,
  • see how it works.
  • [Music]
  • Now we've got three cables,
  • and we need to twist them all together into one giant cable.
  • Let's turn it into one big ol rope.
  • [Music]
  • Giant foil rope.
  • Oh, that's great.
  • Question is, does it have any strength to it at all?
  • About 3 feet, 4 inches long.
  • Each sheet of foil before we started was about 6,
  • maybe 6 and 1/2 feet long.
  • So we've lost almost 50%
  • of our foil length in turning it into this rope.
  • We got to see how much weight this can take.
  • All right cable, rope foil, whatever you are.
  • [Music]
  • It holds.
  • [Music]
  • It's not the most comfortable rope to hold onto.
  • It does hold its shape better than most.
  • Today, we've got the truck,
  • which is got like 4 layers of paracord attached
  • to our foil rope.
  • I unwound the rope just a little bit,
  • and I sort of braided the paracord in there.
  • And then I've got a lot of layers of tape after braiding
  • the rope back around it.
  • Same thing on the other side, attached to our scale.
  • This is hooked onto the tow hook of a car.
  • And so now, we're just going to test.
  • We're going to have Mark drive away very slowly,
  • and we're going to see how our foil rope holds up.
  • See how many pounds
  • of pressure it takes before it just tears open.
  • [Music]
  • Broken.
  • That was a very relaxed break.
  • It just like...
  • Gone.
  • All right.
  • There we go.
  • Our rope broke.
  • It was not a very energetic breaking.
  • I thought that maybe it would just pop
  • and catastrophically fail all at once.
  • But really, it just was pulling and pulling,
  • and then just was like, I'm out,
  • and just let go, and everything kind of fell down.
  • But I'm quite sure I saw it over 200 pounds.
  • I think I saw it
  • about 215 or 225, something like that.
  • Overall though,
  • that's definitely a rope yhat was doing something.
  • Skylar Parks, thank you for your suggestion.
  • Guys, if you've got something you want to see us try,
  • let us know down in the comments below.
  • Guys, that's not all.
  • We've always got more for you see.
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  • You should go check that out.
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  • and we'll see you in the next one.
  • Talk to you then.

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Aluminum foil is known to tear easily, but how strong can it get when it's twisted into a rope? Is it even possible? Today we're finding the answers.

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