Sep 13, 2017 | By Benedict

Germany-based chemical engineer Britt Michelsen has made a 3D printed double pendulum fidget spinner that she says is extremely addictive to play with. The 3D printed spinner was a Runner Up in the Instructables Fidget Spinner Design Contest.

The fidget spinner craze may be dying down, sending the bearing-assisted toys to a quiet retirement alongside yo-yos, Pogs, and Tamagotchis. But could there be a way back for the soon-to-be-discounted bits of metal and plastic?

Attempting to whir the fad back to life is chemical engineer Britt Michelsen, whose double pendulum fidget spinner attempts to breathe new life into the gizmo with a modified design and cool aesthetics.

“I had the idea to build a double pendulum fidget spinner quite a few [months] ago, when fidget spinners first started to become popular,” Michelsen says on her Instructables project page. “Thanks to the fidget spinner contest on Instructables I finally took the time to make one.”

The engineer’s 3D printed creation is a fidget spinner whose movement is “completely chaotic.” So for fidgeters the world over who have grown weary of their single-pendulum spinner and its predictable movement, Michelsen’s design could be a breath of wild and turbulent fresh air.

“A double pendulum simply consists of one pendulum attached to another,” Michelsen explains. “Ever since I was introduced to them in school a few years back they fascinated me.”

Propelled by that enduring fascination, the engineer decided to enter this summer’s Instructables Fidget Spinner Design Contest with her unpredictable whizzer, using 626 2RS (6 x 19 x 6 mm) bearings, steel rod, and 3D printed parts to assemble the rotational instrument.

Michelsen designed the fidget spinner using Autodesk Fusion 360, and put it together using two off-the-shelf 626 2RS bearings. But treating these bearings properly was a key part of getting the fidget spinner to spin properly.

“One of the most crucial things when building your own fidget spinner is to degrease the bearings,” Michelsen warns. “If you ever wondered why the cheap spinners you bought turn way better than your self-made ones, the reason is usually that most of the store-bought bearings are greased.”

With bearings suitably de-greased, Michelsen’s next step was to ensure that tolerances matched the 3D printer and nozzle being used. She used a 0.1 mm offset, but this variable will change across machines. 100 per cent infill was selected in order to ensure high stability.

According to the engineer, assembly is easy: “Start by assembling the middle,” she says. “Afterwards push the other bearing into the bottom piece and the middle piece opposite to it. Now glue the top part to the bottom part. Be very careful not to get any glue into the bearing. All that is left to do is to glue the bottom turner to the top turner.”

That’s how the 3D printed fidget spinner is made, but what about the science behind the double pendulum contraption? Michelsen describes the gadget’s movement as “chaotic,” and—being totally dependent on the initial conditions of motion—it’s absolutely true.

While the movement of the double pendulum spinner can be predicted with complex mathematics, doing so is much more difficult than it is for a single pendulum spinner. And you can feel this unpredictability in your hands too: while the double pendulum spinner isn’t as good as regular spinners for ultra-fast whizzing around a central axis, gently swinging it from one axis causes the rest of the contraption to behave in highly unpredictable ways. You just don’t know what it’s going to do!

Unfortunately, the unique physics of Michelsen’s 3D printed fidget spinner weren’t enough to win it first prize in the Instructables contest, but the model platform did give it a Runner Up spot, earning the engineer a "Design Media Swag pack” including t-shirt, water bottle, VR cardboard kit, stickers, and giant foam finger.

Still down with the craze? Revisit our list of 25 fidget spinners you can 3D print at home.



Posted in Fun with 3D Printing



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Britt wrote at 10/23/2017 11:23:19 AM:

I just saw this. Thanks a lot for featuring another project of mine.

justin manley wrote at 9/14/2017 3:43:19 PM:

i want one

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