May 12, 2015 | By Simon

As we move towards a future that is more reliant on alternative energy than fossil fuels, it should come with little surprise that a variety of 3D printing-related projects have been popping up that highlight the use of these energy-harvesting technologies.  

Among others, wind turbines have been a consistently reliable source of energy that have been around in some form or another for over 1,000 years.  While some of the earliest wind turbines were simple windmills for powering a single operation such as gathering water, today’s wind turbines feature state-of-the-art materials and technologies to ensure that they are a reliable supply of power for an electrical grid.  Regardless of what form they take on however, a wind turbine - at it’s core - is a device that converts kinetic energy from the wind into usable electrical power for both domestic and industrial use.  

For those who want to create their own simple wind turbine, Instructables user ‘Soliton’ of HERO Electronics has recently uploaded a project that enables users to create their own basic wind turbine for powering small appliances or for charging batteries using 3D printing as a method of fabrication, the Hero Electronics Wind Turbine HE-1.  

According to ‘Soliton’, users must have access to a 3D printer that can use ABS or PLA plastic in order to complete the wind turbine project - which he noted is designed for low speed such as urban environments and should not be used in areas of high wind speed.   

“This design takes advantage of urban winds that tend to come from various directions as opposed to straight line winds,” said ‘Soliton’.   

“This type turbine has no tail so it does not have to shift position before beginning to spin. This Turbine can be built using Aluminum tubing or struts and even Bamboo as shown.”

Using the provided STL files, users are directed to print out the necessary components for assembling the remainder of the turbine with including the blades and blade unions.  ‘Soliton’ stresses that this may take a few attempts to get right, however it is worth it in the end to have a great-working turbine.

Because of the balance of performance versus strength in the design, the printable files were built to compromise the two equally - however users can modify this by drilling out sections to make the entire turbine or blades lighter depending on what’s desired.  The center hub assembly - which is where all of the force is directed - should be the strongest part.  

Once all of the individual pieces have been 3D Printed and the sub-assemblies assembled, all that is needed is a final assembly process of the top and bottom components before attaching the entire turbine to a coupler, which can be pulled from old printers or other “consumer junk”.  

From here, all that is needed is wind!  Be sure to read the build instructions in-full and download the STL files over at Instructables.  

Posted in 3D Printer Applications


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Jeff wrote at 7/21/2015 4:38:34 AM:

Stepper motors offer brushless AC power generation while allowing use of recycled stepper motors. They produce power at low RPM . You can use a half wave rectifier before sending it to a rechargeable battery.

Gad wrote at 5/13/2015 3:40:04 PM:

I agree with Disa. On the instructables however it says that it uses a stepper motor. Too vague of course

Johnny Phartpants wrote at 5/13/2015 11:49:22 AM:

Why can't I get my crotchless wind turbine reviewed ?

Disa Pointer wrote at 5/13/2015 9:45:23 AM:

"From here, all that is needed is wind!" So, what about the electromechanical and electronics part of the project? This article describes only a simple windmill (that has been done with 3D-Printing countless times before), but then it gets down to converting mechanical into electrical power and then transform that electrical power into something useful. That's where there is meat on the bone. It's not like you can just use any scrapyard DC-motor, connect that to a micro-USB-cable and the windmill and you have your charger ready to be plugged in your phone and working....

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