Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Perpetual Motion? A 3D Printed Micro Amp Motor

ST Medical Devices

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MainBarLogoSmallIf you could 3D print your own micro amp motor, how would you use it? Motors are used in so many common household objects that we take them for granted — until they break, of course.

Although it may not generate enough power to charge your cell phone or run your microwave, LaserHacker’s “lasersaber”, who has created 3D printed art since the early ’90s, 3D printed (on his Afinia printer), assembled, and successfully ran a “micro amp” motor that runs on almost nothing. Very exciting.  And he’s made the instructions and parts list and links available on his webpage.

afiniaTo make the motor, you need to attain the following parts, which lasersaber has made available here, complete with links to the suppliers he used. The parts list includes: Darners Hand Needles; Sapphire Vee Jewel Bearings; Neodymium Magnets; Magnet Wire, Enameled Copper, Green; Reed Switch; MAGNASPHERE switch.

The motor was designed in 3D Studiomax, and the STL files are available to download (ZIP file direct download link) from LaserHacker to print at home, and lasersaber makes sure to remind you that you can also have the files printed via Shapeways. In the videos that accompany the article, lasersaber first printed the structural supports and snapped the pins together, having to remove tiny bits of extra material. For the top surface, bottom, and sides he shows that you can print a filler matrix which uses much less filament to the same effect. After easy assembly of the printed parts, he threads bobbins with 42 gauge 1/4 lb. roll of copper wire using a power drill.

Now for the fun part: he runs the motor by connecting it to a  small 10,000 UF electrolytic capacitor, micro-amp meter, and battery. The motor is powered by connecting it to larger pieces of copper and magnesium run through a “carrot cell”–which is a small piece of carrot with a small piece of copper and a small piece of magnesium ribbon stuck in it.  (Fruits and vegetables don’t generate electricity necessarily, but they provide a conductive liquid to aid in completion of an electric circuit.)  Using this very simple yet impressive arrangement, the motor is able to run for hours, generating 1-1.5 micro amps.

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While this micro amp motor is still micro, it is a promising step forward for those who believe alternative energy is possible and that 3D printing can play a crucial role here. In fact, lasersaber credits 3D printing with the ability to facilitate projects such as this one, and this is an important role as we move toward goals of energy independence.

What do you think about this motor? Let us know over at the 3D Print Your Own Micro Amp Motor forum thread at 3DPB.com.

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