Aug 17, 2015 | By Simon

It goes without saying that bicycles are increasingly becoming the commuter vehicle of the future.  

Although people have been riding bicycles for hundreds of years now, it hasn’t been until recently that urban developers have started to accept bicycles as a form of transportation worthy of their own infrastructures.  Now, cities including Portland, Oregon and Amsterdam are leading the way with modern bike paths, light signals and considered routes, among other details.  But of course, similar to cars on the road, some of these riders are vying for their own individuality in the bike lanes - and what better way to spread joy and stand out than with bubbles?      

Thanks to Thingiverse project creator Heinz Drei, creating your own bicycle bubble machine is actually a lot easier than you might think.  Recently, the eccentric designer uploaded the design files for his Bicycle Bubble Machine invention for the Thingiverse Catch the Wind Challenge - a challenge he won along with two others.  

“Finally, be the star of commuter traffic! Make all the kids in the neighbourhood happy! Or just jealous!” he says.   

“Engage in inspiring discussions with chemtrail believers! With the wind-driven Bicycle Bubble Machine drawing a dense stream of soap bubbles behind you, you too can bring peace and happiness back to the streets!”

The design, which attaches to a bicycles pre-existing luggage rack, foregoes electrical power in favor of something more natural and readily available on bicycles: the wind.  Using the relative wind created from riding a bicycle at nearly any speed, a wind wheel turns a wheel with bubble wands, which are doused in a soap solution and subsequently blown directly by the oncoming wind.  According to Drei, the machine works surprisingly well even at low speeds and gets a lot of attention from passersby thanks to the unique jet-engine appearance of the device.  

Thankfully, the device isn’t difficult to produce yourself in the case that you want to spread some of that bubble cheer around your city.  

Using a simple pulley system based off of the Parametric Pulley by Thingiverse user droftarts, Drei spent just 45 minutes in OpenSCAD - a program of which he had little experience beforehand - attaching bubble wands directly to a simple wind wheel design.

Unsurprisingly, he ran into some design challenges along the way include the problem of the liquid soap sloshing around in the reservoir while riding on bumpy surfaces.  To fix this, he changed the reservoir design and created a ledge to contain the liquid.  

Additionally, he soon learned that it was difficult to reach a wind speed that would steadily overcome the friction of when the bubble wands meet in the liquid.  To fix this, he decided to break the design into separate parts that could each be optimized for their intended purpose.   

“I now decided to drop this simple design and go for a more complex solution which should solve the problem of overcoming the friction in the bubble liquid as well as spilling and tank size,” he explains.  “The idea is to separate the wind wheel from the bubble wand wheel.”

The resulting design is a perfect example of how 3D printing is so valuable for today’s inspired makers; thanks to having physical iterations of each design, Drei was able to optimize the design for a relatively low-cost to create a completely unique and customizable design that likely wouldn’t exist if it was required to be produced using traditional manufacturing methods.  

For those interested in creating their own Bicycle Bubble Machine, Drei has generously supplied the STL files for his winning design along with some detailed build instructions.  It should noted that in addition to access to a 3D printer to print each of the STL files, users will also need a piece of wood to mount the machine on, small self-tapping screws, sewing accessories including elastic ribbon, needles and thread, welding wire and a drill with small drill bits for cleaning the holes for the fastening hardware.     

Needless to say, this is surely one of the most unusual 3D printing projects we’ve ever seen however it’s one that is likely to bring the most smiles, too.  To download the STL files, head over to the project’s Thingiverse page.  


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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