How would you go about fabricating a sprinkler head for a general use sprinkler system? I'm talking about the sort in your front yard.

The basics of what I'm looking for:

  • Design which can be placed on a pipe fitting
  • Automatically pops up from water pressure, possibly spring-loaded
  • Cheap, accessible materials

1 Answer 1


Ok, I'll admit, I'd just buy the sprinkler head. Let someone else do the work of engineering it so that it would work consistently on demand, because this has to work thousands of times, day after day. It must survive variable water pressure, be robust to working in a dirty environment, hard water, heat and cold. Any water system sometimes even has grains of sand, etc., that find their way into the lines. So you must cater to that possibility.

You need a filter. Materials that will be dimensionally stable under temperature variations, without corrosion. A robust design that will not leak, yet survive enough water pressure to spray the water where you need it.

If your goal is to do better than what you would find on the shelf, and this is truly for your own DIY use, then buy it off the shelf, and dissect that unit. Look carefully at it, and decide what makes it work or not work to your satisfaction. I'll admit that I don't think you can make it better for less money than the unit cost you off the shelf. The fact is, you have not said what it was that makes you think the off-the-shelf unit is unsatisfactory to YOU.

If your goal is to try to make something like this better for sale to others, then you are asking in the wrong place anyway. In that case, this question should then be shut down.

  • 1
    I agree. Leave the engineering to experts in that particular field of sprinkler head design. I'm an ME myself, and I don't think I could design a sprinkler head that was as reliable and durable as a COTS product. Even if you could design one, do you have the facilities to fabricate it? You'll likely need specially molded or machined components.
    – Doresoom
    Apr 12, 2011 at 14:47
  • I could buy one off the shelf but some attempts to improve the mousetrap have been successful and interesting :) I am more-or-less a survivalist and want to know how to put small luxuries together from spare parts. Also for cheapness!! Apr 13, 2011 at 4:19
  • 1
    I would buy one and tear it apart to see how it works. After that, it is a question of how good you are at machining the parts out of a good choice of plastic. I've done this sort of thing a few times before with a small mill and lathe, but sometimes you need to find a plastic with the proper material properties. How slippery must it be to pop out easily? Do you have a large chunk of UHMW polyethylene (or other plastic) to make some pieces out of? Note that this itself can be expensive if you need to buy that material.
    – user558
    Apr 13, 2011 at 15:14

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