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3D printer and horizontal wind turbines

 
pollinator
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This is a bit of an involved question.  It seems that 3d printers are becoming more and more useful these days.  In order to decide if it was worth while to buy one, I made a list of things that I could build/repair/maintain with one - also to see how large a printer I would need.  The largest thing I think I would want to make with a 3d printer is the blades for a vertical axis windmill.  I have seen some models that use blades that are 24" long.  Has anyone seen designs for wind turbines that can be built with 3D printers?
 
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Hi Tom;  Great idea!  I can't say where you might find the correct design. But when you do...   I think you may have a new business idea. Tom's Handmade Desert Windmills !
 
thomas rubino
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Hey Tom;
I'm curious what other things you might build with a 3/d printer?
 
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I've seen people making computer fans with 3D printing, haven't seen windmill blades, but its all the same concept. The only reason I haven't got into 3D printing is that I haven't wanted to put in all the time to learn 3D modeling software. I figure if I ever NEED a 3D print I'll just have to pay someone to make it for me. If you are going to go for it Tom, then the turbine blade math and fluid dynamics probably aren't any harder than the rest of the modeling process.
 
Tom Connolly
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thomas rubino wrote:Hey Tom;
I'm curious what other things you might build with a 3/d printer?

https://www.allthat3d.com/3d-printed-objects/
https://www.allthat3d.com/3d-printing-make/

Google and you will find hundreds of ideas...I have seen whole houses that were built with 3d printers - the "bricks" were printed by the printer on site and assembled right there by the owner - a very inexpensive way to build a house and is being studied as a solution for the housing shortage in many areas.  My main thought was to make parts for things when they break, if possible...specialized kinds of fittings for hydroponics....devices to hold things together.  I am trying to  determine whether or not a 3D printer can be used to add "skin" to a metal frame - for example, I have an aluminum or chromoly frame for the wind turbine blades to give them more rigidity and then add the skin to the frame to catch the wind.  In theory, a 3D printer and a CNC machine would go a long way to making someone truly self sufficient.  It does take time to learn how to do the designing but, in all likelihood, you will be making the same kinds of things, so the design phase will shorten with more practice.  3D scanners can shorten the design phase dramatically if you are trying to copy an object.  Some 3D printers can be converted into 3D scanners simply by changing the print head.  Hydroponics is at the top of my list.  I will, at the least, use hydroponics to grow my own food.  It may be possible to turn it into a business as well...so, at this point, I am studying the potential of various tools to see how flexible my life can be, how many opportunities they will open up for me.  At first it was a whimsical idea, but the more I read about it, the more I realize that these machines can play a big part in a common homestead/household.
 
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Grady Houger wrote:I've seen people making computer fans with 3D printing, haven't seen windmill blades, but its all the same concept. The only reason I haven't got into 3D printing is that I haven't wanted to put in all the time to learn 3D modeling software. I figure if I ever NEED a 3D print I'll just have to pay someone to make it for me. If you are going to go for it Tom, then the turbine blade math and fluid dynamics probably aren't any harder than the rest of the modeling process.

You don't need to! There are several libraries filled with tens to hundreds of thousands of designs, ranging from marble tracks to spare parts of old appliances. Even something as a custom gear can be generated quite easily, fill in the diameter, amount of teeth, pitch and this site will generate a design for you.
For me it's a bit of a hobby but is an excellent tool to have, not in every household but surely in every neighbourhood.

Although certain parts can be 3D printed I would refrain from printing an entire blade out of it. Polymers work best when they are in a continuos slab, not when stacked in layers. An acrylic sheet might work better and be cheaper.
 
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https://www.thingiverse.com/

This is a great site for sharing 3D printer plans

https://www.thingiverse.com/search?q=windmill+blade&type=things&sort=relevant

A quick search for "windmill blade" on Thingiverse brought these results

https://www.thingiverse.com/groups/3d-printing-forum

They also have a forum for help answering 3D printer questions

Hope you find what you're looking for!
 
Tom Connolly
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Plans for a 3D printer windmill :)

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2060281
 
pollinator
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Not so much a windmill idea, but if 3D printers become efficient with the production of hardened materials, I can see all kinds of older farm equipment that could be repaired through 3D printer parts manufactured based on a 3D template.  Even for newer equipment that may have been imported and for which parts are hard to find domestically.  Right now, I have a Yanmar F15D with a broken front grille.  It's made of molded plastic, but it's one of the parts that I would probably have to special order from Japan.  Don't know how far off is the ability to print parts with the integrity of hardened steel. ?....
 
Tom Connolly
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I recently saw an article about a 3d printer that made a 1911 pistol.  They fired 5,000 bullets through it, no problem.  The problem is, the machine costs $250,000 and it cost them about $6,000 in materials to make it!
 
Johan Thorbecke
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John Weiland wrote:Not so much a windmill idea, but if 3D printers become efficient with the production of hardened materials, I can see all kinds of older farm equipment that could be repaired through 3D printer parts manufactured based on a 3D template.  Even for newer equipment that may have been imported and for which parts are hard to find domestically.  Right now, I have a Yanmar F15D with a broken front grille.  It's made of molded plastic, but it's one of the parts that I would probably have to special order from Japan.  Don't know how far off is the ability to print parts with the integrity of hardened steel. ?....


That's exactly what 3D printing is used for right now. I fixed so many things with 3D printed parts. There are steel printers out there but they are more where normal printers where a decade ago, printing steel still requires some very powerful lasers. But it's already proving itself in the prototyping and small scale production front. It's much easier to print a prototype part than to make a new mold for every change.
What are the dimensions of the grill? If it's too large for a regular at home printer you might can just print the broken/missing parts and glue them in.

 
pollinator
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I subscribe to a youtuber who 3d prints in resin, (seems like plastic) then pours liquid plaster over it. When the plaster hardens, he heats it upside down to melt out the 3d print. Then he has a plaster mold to cast  a metal copy of what he printed. It's like lost wax casting, but with resin instead of wax. He mostly casts in silver, bronze and copper, but I bet it'd work with iron or steel if you could get them hot enough to melt. He's using professional equipment now, but in his earlier videos, he made a vacuum chamber and a foundry on the cheap.

VOG (formerly Veg Oil Guy) on youtube
 
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since some years I print 3d parts with a standard 30x30x30cm PLA / ABS FFF printer. The limits are the dimensions and the materials that can be printed with standard household printers. Industry printing is a different game. They print large items and also use sintering to print metal. Pretty interesting development. In household printers also resins are used - mostly because it is much faster than fused filament fabrication.

If you can get hold of someone with an industrial laser sinter 3d-printer... let me know!
 
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Tom Connolly wrote:This is a bit of an involved question.  It seems that 3d printers are becoming more and more useful these days.  In order to decide if it was worth while to buy one, I made a list of things that I could build/repair/maintain with one - also to see how large a printer I would need.  The largest thing I think I would want to make with a 3d printer is the blades for a vertical axis windmill.  I have seen some models that use blades that are 24" long.  Has anyone seen designs for wind turbines that can be built with 3D printers?


I suppose it is possible to print blades for a windturbine in an 3D-printer, but I highly suspect that it´s not the best idéa especialy for a horrisontal axis wind turbine. It is probably faster, cheaper and more durable to use wooden blades :)

Reason for that beeing that windturbineblades in general experiense big and uneven forces.
3D-printers produce parts that are "weak" to pull in at least one axis (layer adhesion I belive it is called).
For a vertical axis design this perhaps can be mitigated by choosing the "right" direction when printing the blade, for a horisontal axis turbine this is probbably not possible since it experiense both pull and push in three axis.
Also the forces in a horisontal axis design is far greater and more dynamic (changing between push and pull in the same axis at least twice per revoultion) than in a comparable vertical-axis turbine.

As a sidenote the efficiency and lifespan is significantly less for any horisontal windturbine when compared with a similar sized vertical. I realy can´t se any useful application where I would recomend a horisontal axis windturbine. I am not aware of a single advantage with this compared to a vertical axis.
 
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