Mar 5, 2016 | By Andre
I was first introduced to 3D printing in 2011 thanks in part to the open-source RepRap project. As time passed, the thought of building my very own 3D printer was something that just wouldn't leave my mind so one day a good friend of mine and I finally went ahead and got things going. As we progressed, the idea of soon being able to 3D print our very own 3D printer (something RepRap prided itself on during those earlier years) kept us motivated and moving forward.
So today, while doing some research for this article I had a similar zap of excitement when I learned of the 3D Generator-1 by generator enthusiast Brian.
He’s developed a 3D printable generator which, in theory, might one day be able to power the 3D printer that 3D prints itself which in turn 3D prints its own generator. That's Inception level stuff right there. Of course, just like how the RepRap required motors, wires, rods and electronics that are nowhere close to being 3D printable, the 3D Generator-1 also has some integral components, such as disc magnets or copper wire, that can’t be 3D printed.
Regardless of this, after taking a look at the below video, it’s evident that the 3D Generator-1 is capable of producing enough energy to light a lightbulb.
Based on what is available on the site, it suggests ABS plastic was used along with a 0.4 mm nozzle at a 0.2mm per layer resolution. All of which are common features in the hobbyist realm of 3D printing. Insulation is necessary to finish the generator so it is unknown if PLA's lower melting point would have an effect on the structural stability of the parts once things get underway, but I imagine those specifics would be outlined in the assembly instructions.
While we’ve covered 3D printed hand-powered generators in the past, this permanent magnet generator (PMG) seems to be unique in the world of 3D printing. It’s also more powerful too. The hand-crank generator can produce up to 30 watts of power. Brian’s 3D DC based PMG generator, on the other hand, can produce up to a 50 watt output.
As mentioned, the files and instructions can be purchased through the energy-creator website for $35USD and includes detailed video instructions as well as the necessary G-Code, THING and X3G files.
So just like how the RepRap 3D printer could 3D print itself (sort of), Brian’s 3D Printable PMG generator is capable of powering itself (sort of). And if this doesn’t impress you too much I would like to remind you that electric generators like this—albeit on a much larger scale—are responsible for providing just about all the power that runs through the electrical power grids we rely on for just about everything we do on this earth today.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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Willy wrote at 3/6/2016 5:50:26 AM:
I will stick with a 1 wire GM alternator. $60 from NAPA auto parts. All I have to do is print the blades and a cover to keep rain out of the housing. Alternator is self exciting, provides up to 35 amps of 12 volts, even has its own internal voltage regulator.
Kevin wrote at 3/5/2016 6:51:20 PM:
3D printing technology is still in it's infancy. There will be lots of things you can't print , at least not without dropping $10 000 on a specialized printer (or more) so buying a few parts is expected. But slowly , those limitations are being over come one by one.