Jun 23, 2015 | By Alec

While we see a lot of interesting 3D printing projects all the time, the best are not just fun, beautiful or cool, but they are also functional. In that respect, this mini USB vacuum cleaner definitely ticks all boxes. It has been designed by the young French Instructables user Loann Boudin (loboat) with a single, very recognizable purpose in mind: to clean the endless mess desk after tinkering with plastic, wood and electronics for hours. If that sounds familiar, this is definitely a project you should try.

The best thing about this little vacuum cleaner is that its powered through a mini USB, so it’s very easy to use in and around you pc and work area. Sick of all those crumbs and dust accumulating in your keyboard? What’s more, this small and efficient device is quite easy to make if you have a bit of experience with electronic/3D printing building projects. For aside from a 3D printed body, it consists of just a single DC motor RE-140 (or any similar type of motor from a toy, or something), an USB Apple cable (Iphone 5 o up), a switch, a few LEGO parts and an a tea bag. Seems easy, right?

As Boudin explains, the secret to such a small vacuum cleaner is an efficient design. ‘In most vacuum cleaners, the dusty air is sucked by a fan driven by an electric motor to a dust bag; then it is filtered, and the dust remains in the dust bag while the cleaned air is rejected outside,’ he writes. ‘In the 3D printed vacuum cleaner I have designed, the dusty air goes right to the filter which retains the dust while the fan sucks the cleaned air towards the top of the vacuum and rejects it outside.’ This ensures that the machine can be small, yet effective.

If you’re interested in trying this fun and functional project, head over the Boudin’s Instructables page here to download files for the seven parts that need to be 3D printed and cleaned. He does, incidentally, invite everyone to modify the design and parts, so he has also included all SolidWorks files for easy use. All parts can be 3D printed in either ABS or PLA, though keep in mind that many of these parts are exceptionally delicate and small. ‘if you need to print a fragile and thin part (like the turbine, for example), it is very important that the piece adheres to the plate. But do you know that ABS and PLA plastics are very adherent to each other ? When printing with PLA, a thin melted layer of ABS on the heating plate will make the part adhere to the plate,’ he suggests. ‘To make this liquid ABS solution, mix small pieces of ABS with acetone in a glass container. Finally, spread the solution on a glass plate that will be placed on the heating plate.’ Boudin himself used a Prusa l3 3D printer in an electronics association he is a part of.

Keeping those tips in mind, printing itself should be fairly straightforward, while slots are included in all parts for the motor, USB cable and switch. As this does use electronics, closely follow loboat’s assembly instructions, but veteran tinkers should not encounter too many problems. And then, finally, it’s a matter of inserting the tea bag vacuum filter, which might sound a bit strange.

However, any tea bag will do, as long as you remove the tea. ‘Cut the string which closes the tea bag and unfold it. Pour the tea into a container , it will be useful later to test the suction of the vacuum cleaner. Then, extend carefully the teabag till had a filter sheet,’ the maker advises. ‘After that, download and print the filter pattern file included in this step: use it to cut the filter properly. Then, cut a line across the largest disk and wrap it conically around your thumb. Insert it into the filter holder part and glue it with super glue.Then, glue the smallest disk on the bottom of the filter holder part.’ Once glued in place, insert a LEGO fixator through the hole in the filter to keep everything in its place.

Once you insert a flexible LEGO pipe to act as a the hose of the vacuum cleaner, you’re good to go. Now doesn’t this project touch the very essence of making? It’s a 3D printed tool for cleaning the mess you make when 3D printing, after all.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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