Introduction: 3D Printed Portable Bladeless Fan

Picture of 3D Printed Portable Bladeless Fan

"A bladeless fan (sometimes called an air multiplier) blows air from a ring with no external blades." Dyson is a very popular company who has utilized this technology to make a quieter fan that performs better than more traditional versions. A common misconception is that "bladeless fans" are not actually bladeless. Instead of being external, a small fan is located in the pedestal and forces air out of a thin ring.

Here I'm building a very basic model which won't perform nearly as well as the Dyson models, but will be a small fraction of the price. This small model is easily portable and can be refreshingly used in a vehicle or outside as well as inside.

Parts printed on a Monoprice Maker Ultimate in PLA with a 0.4mm nozzle on a heated print bed.

Step 1: The Design

Picture of The Design

I designed my version on Autodesk Inventor with the intention of 3d printing. It is important to remember that all pieces will eventually be printed. Taking this into account, I decided to create three interlocking pieces that had minimal overhang and a large base to deter print failure. To create an accurate base, which would eventually hold the propeller, I measured the diameter of the blades and adjusted the base's inner diameter to ensure an optimal fit. Once I had finished my parts, I virtually assembled everything and checked that there were places for both air intake and discharge

Step 2: Printing

Picture of Printing

Printing went very smoothly since this is a relatively simple design. It was my first large print on a heated print bed and I was very happy how well it worked. The printing time was roughly ten hours for all three pieces. Since there is a dramatic overhang on one of the pieces, support material is necessary. In the first picture, you can see that one of the supports ended up collapsing, but the printer I used was able to handle the overhang. I assembled the parts and was happy how well everything fit together.

Step 3: Power

Picture of Power

Instead of having a fixed cord, I decided to install a socket so I could easily switch between wall power and a battery. It would be very easy to update the source models to add a hole to fit the socket, but since I was unsure about placement I decided to manually install it. Cutting holes in filament is incredibly easy. In my case, I simply heated a soldering iron, plunged it into the plastic, and worked it around until the hole was suitable. I then filed off the excess plastic and fitted my socket.

Step 4: Fan

Picture of Fan

Although this method worked I have decided on another easier method. Check out my improvements step where I talk about the changes I would make to fan installation easier and have it operate better.

Next I found a fan that would fit the pedestal once modified. I then removed the exterior plastic with a saw. When removing the extra parts, make sure to keep the motor support arms. They should be slightly longer than the blades to ensure space between the blades and base wall.

Update: I originally used a 2" computer fan, but eventually decided that the motor wasn't fast enough to achieve maximum airflow. I plan on releasing a new updated fan design soon.

Step 5: Installing the Fan

Picture of Installing the Fan

Once all the pieces were ready, I glued on a temporary foam support to help me center and hold the fan in the right location. I then held at the right height (making sure it was above the air intake holes and none of the blades touched the sides) and used hot glue to secure the arms to the wall. This is another step that could easily be simplified by modifying the original CAD models. Once everything was secure, I removed the temporary support piece and tested the propeller to make sure there was still clearance. Once everything was working, I attached the wires to the socket and tested power again.

Step 6: Final Steps

Picture of Final Steps

Once all the electronic components were working properly, I assembled all the remaining pieces. Everything fits snugly, but if sturdiness is preferred, apply glue. I then added a colored vinyl stripe, which isn't important, but adds some much needed color to accent the white pieces. I am extremely happy how everything turned out. The fan is roughly 5.5" tall and used around 130 grams of printing filament.

I'm currently working on a quick substitute for the computer fan. Although it works, a simple dc motor with a higher rpm would be more effective.

Thank you for taking time to read through my instructables. I look forward to reading any questions or suggestions in the comments.

Step 7: Improvements

Picture of Improvements

Gone is the cheap computer motor. I hope to find a better solution in the end but this is the best I could do with the materials around me. I removed the propeller blades from the old motor to secure it to my better dc hobby motor. To mount the pieces together, I glued an old gear that fit the shaft snugly onto the propellers. I glued a thick washer to the bottom and attached the whole thing to the fan base. since the motor is now below the fan my previous power socket would interfere. I covered the old hole and temporary ran the wires through the air intake holes. I plan to update the models to add a socket to hold the motor in place. I also believe that I need a bigger air intake slot. I plan on either enlarging the holes or adding more. Currently these changes have made a positive effect towards performance. The fan is faster causing the print to vibrate and "walk" around a table. To counteract this I just made a makeshift buffer with hot glue but will later replace this with a thin rubber sheet like a old mousepad.

Stay tuned for better updates. If you have any suggestions please let me know in the comments. Thanks!

Step 8: Files

Picture of Files

Above is a three way drawing of three way drawings. When the parts were converted to .stl files I messed up the scaling feature causing miniature pieces. You will most likely get an auto scale prompt that will result in the right dimensions. Please compare them to the diagram above. As long as each part is scaled exactly the same the pieces should still fit together.

Please note my suggested improvements. I plan on redesigning the base to accommodate my suggestions.

Please pardon my incredibly creative names. There is no longer a part number one. It was scrapped and I forgot to rename everything. Please remember that this performs not as well as a professional model but more like a scaled down version. Meaning, if you was hurricane winds you might want to invest a few hundred dollars or move to Flordia.

Comments

SantitheGreat (author)2017-08-23

Would a 3d print cooling fan work for the fan?

WhyyNot (author)SantitheGreat2017-08-31

In my version 2 I hope to 3d print the fan.

SantitheGreat (author)WhyyNot2017-09-02

No, I meant using a print cooling fan that is meant to cool down PLA. Would that work?

WhyyNot (author)SantitheGreat2017-09-11

It really depends on what type of cooling fan you want to use. Most cooling fans I've seen tend to have a slower rpm than what is needed. Another member suggested using a squirrel cage fan. I'm fairly certain that type of cooling fan might work well but it won't fit the dimensions of my current model. If you would like to try to use a squirrel fan you are welcome to customize my source models to your specific needs.

PhilippeG1 (author)2017-08-26

un moteur de turbine d'avion à réaction RC ferait mieux l'affaire

WhyyNot (author)PhilippeG12017-08-31

Je suis d'accord. Je suis actuellement à la recherche d'un moteur meilleur avec un régime supérieur. Un moteur à turbine RC serait plus efficace.

I agree. I am currently looking for a better motor with a higher rpm. A RC turbine engine would be more effective.

brettt3 (author)2017-08-29

Very cool!

joris23 (author)2017-08-17

You should calculate the surface of the fan and then make sure the air intakes have the same combined surface as the fan. This way there will always be enough air for the fan.

WhyyNot (author)joris232017-08-17

You are right. I will add that to my version 2. Thanks

arazmjou (author)2017-08-14

If you are planning to build second version I suggest to use 2 or three laptop fans right behind the holes to take the air in and for the main fan to use (from RC store) a fan which has the electric motor in the back so the combination of longer blades and higher RPM will generate lot stronger air flow. Good Luck

WhyyNot (author)arazmjou2017-08-14

Good idea. My problem would be getting it all to fit into the small enclosure. I do agree that an intake fan would be very beneficial. ill look and see if I can find something small that can fit. Thanks!

Kings_HS (author)2017-08-10

Wow! This is amazing!!!

ThummarwitshW (author)2017-08-09

I probable will do one from pvc pike.

R A Shah (author)2017-08-09

I tried importing these STL files in Slicer for 3D printing. It is showing very small size of 4mm dia. Can you please tell me what is the exact size of all the parts?

WhyyNot (author)R A Shah2017-08-09

I've added an image showing all dimensions in inches. Please let me know if there is some more information you would like to see in the diagrams.

WhyyNot (author)R A Shah2017-08-09

Sorry. I did something wrong when I converted the files. I'll have to double check the dimensions. I'll let you know when they're up.

iamchrismoran (author)2017-08-09

What should the part dimensions be? When I import the stl files into Makerbot, it wants to scale them up. I let it and the base ends up being 73.38 mm x 73.38 mm x 52.07 mm. did you model in cm/mm/in?

Thanks!

WhyyNot (author)iamchrismoran2017-08-09

I've added an image showing all dimensions in inches. Please let me know if there is some more information you would like to see in the diagrams.

WhyyNot (author)iamchrismoran2017-08-09

Sorry. I did something wrong when I converted the files. I'll have to double check the dimensions. I did make my model in inches. I had to scale up my model too but off the top of my head your dimensions seem a little large. Im going to update my directions at the bottom. I'll let you know when they're up.

JoeM77 (author)2017-08-09

Bladeless, except for the blades.

still pretty cool!

WhyyNot (author)JoeM772017-08-09

Sadly bladeless fans are a little misleading. If you want an airflow with no movement check out Ionic Thruster. Make magazine made a diy version which I think is really cool. Check it out: http://makezine.com/projects/ionic-thruster/

arazmjou (author)2017-08-09

I think the fans need to be above venting holes. and the if you place a cone to narrow down air flow by 30% to 50% then output will be better

WhyyNot (author)arazmjou2017-08-09

The fan is slightly above the holes. It's really close because theres only about two vertical inches of space to fit the fan. I was considering narrowing the airflow but since no one mentioned it I figured it wouldn't be super effective. I'll try to fit that into a version 2 base.

brian32768 (author)2017-08-07

I've wondered how those work, never taken the time to look closely at one.

I am wondering if a squirrel cage fan might work in this application. They use them in ventilation systems in cars. Here is a little one, read the comments before ordering then decide, it's just from a company I like ---

https://www.sparkfun.com/products/11270

Pulling a fan from a space heater or a microwave might be a good source too. Please don't kill yourself if you decide to tear down a dead microwave.

WhyyNot (author)brian327682017-08-07

Dyson's bladeless fans blow me away. Its really interesting how complex the design process was for something that is very simple in theory. A squirrel cage fan would work very well but unfortunately it wont fit the dimensions of my current model. It only has a 2" diameter worth of space in the base. I will definitely play around with some model ideas. I was planning on testing a simple hobby motor with my computer fan blades to see if theres a dramatic change in airflow. Dyson uses an impeller to create a very impressive airflow in their products.

brian32768 (author)WhyyNot2017-08-09

By impeller you mean like Roots supercharger? (They have a great animation on Wikipedia) You should print one! and let me know how that turns out :-)

Nelly0125 (author)WhyyNot2017-08-08

Do you know if we can get our hands on a cheap impeller? Your article blew ;-) me away! And its insane how expensive a dyson fan is!!

WhyyNot (author)Nelly01252017-08-08

Im not sure currently where to find one. I will be looking around.

deluges (author)brian327682017-08-07

Look up fluid dynamics entrainment effect. There's also a page about how they work here: http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/home/dyson-bladeless-fan.htm :)

brian32768 (author)deluges2017-08-08

Thanks for that link. I wish they had torn it down.
Dyson is 3% science and 97% marketing.
It appeals to me because it appears magical but at the end of the day it just moves air around. Does it use less power to move the same amount of air as a conventional fan?

hisashime (author)brian327682017-08-08

Yes agree. It is also noisy. A conventional table fan work flawlessly with high air flow and quiet. The only pros for dyson fan is its child safe.

haroun (author)brian327682017-08-08

They seem like the Bose for small appliances

WhyyNot (author)deluges2017-08-07

Very interesting stuff! I will be taking fluid dynamics as part of my college curriculum soon. I really enjoyed reading through the article you linked about Dyson. Thanks!

kavish laxkar (author)2017-08-09

Thanks for sharing.:)

JohnD316 (author)2017-08-09

This is a great project if you have the 3D printer available. Most of us don't. I have a friend that has a large Dyson fan that they bought for hundreds of dollars and am not impressed for the money. It seems more of a gimmick. I do not see the purpose. I bought a $30.00 fan with open blades that a child can put fingers into and not be harmed at all. Made by Caframo in Ontario Canada. Very low torque but quite high speed. They have been making these fans for over 50 years and now sold under the name Classic.

Lovot (author)2017-08-08

The reason it doesn't preform as well as the Dyson ones is because the small fan needs to be able to push some pressure, and computer fans are not really ideal for that, a 3D printed centrifugal impellar combined with a good brushless motor should vastly outpreform the computer fans.

WhyyNot (author)Lovot2017-08-08

That is next on the list. I like the idea of 3d printing it. It would be cheaper and fit with the theme.

bpark1000 (author)2017-08-08

The "fan" in the base needs to develop more pressure then normal "propeller" fans can provide. Better would be a centrifugal "blower", which moves less air but at a greater pressure, to force the air through the slot. These can be purchased inexpensively like the usual "muffin" fans.

WhyyNot (author)bpark10002017-08-08

Awesome advice. Thanks!

WhyyNot (author)2017-08-08

Quick question regarding the .stl files. If I added the files to this page would everyone be able to download them or just premium members? Thanks!

SaahajM (author)WhyyNot2017-08-08

Everyone can download the files. Can you also include a basic parts list, what printer, what plastic, what socket, and the mother computer? Can I use any computer fan?

WhyyNot (author)SaahajM2017-08-08

Parts printed on a Monoprice Maker Ultimate in PLA with a 0.4mm nozzle on a heated print bed.Designed in Autodesk Inventor which requires windows.

WhyyNot (author)SaahajM2017-08-08

I'll do my best to add in a parts list and specs in the intro. The current model is scaled for a 2" size fan. I'm about to add a section talking about improvements I would make next time. Today I ripped out the computer fan and replaced the motor with a more powerful hobby dc motor. The results were much better.

NikyN2 (author)2017-08-08

I see you're looking for a better fan. so I have a couple suggestions. either an industrial noctua (3k RPM) or a sunon (chinese fans but REALLY good stuff, 3k rpm and up), and add in a PWM controlled regulator (you can do a very simple one with a 555 and some components, it's cheap and quite easy once you know the values) so you don't have the thing running always at top speed (have yet to get a noctua industral on my hands, but the sunons are the closest things to a reactor you can imagine - both in terms of airflow AND sadly noise).

I would ideally put a 12cm (4.72in accordign to google) fan, since they offer much more flow for less noise. or even a 14cm (noctua has a 3k version).

an old "just had it laying around" fan is usually not a good idea unless you're used to buy good fans. first, old fans are noisier, and second, it ain't that easy to find a 12cm one (which is what you should want). plus most of the "came with the PC" fans are quite crappy (unless you paid a lot for the case or PSU).

PS: I have nothing to do with either brand, I'm just a big fan (no pun intended) of sunon, and the noctuas seem pretty close in specs plus the whole magnetic stuff that may help with the noise (though sunon also has maglevs, but the principle is not the same).

WhyyNot (author)NikyN22017-08-08

Ha ha This is awesome thank you! I will be looking into your suggestions. I did use a very cheap fan i found lying around awhile back. I had no idea this post would become so popular. I tore out the cheap fan today and replaced the moter with a better dc hobby motor. The results were a lot better than the original version. Hopefully with a high quality fan I'll be able to get some strong air flow.

wenden_jason (author)NikyN22017-08-08

Laughed my head off at your pun ???

Starnight91 (author)2017-08-08

Great ! Have you got the files for 3D printing please ?

Thanks

WhyyNot (author)Starnight912017-08-08

They should be up by the time you read this.

mcmasterp (author)2017-08-08

Ok this is awesome. Thank you very much for your work and time to document it. When you release the next version could you make the pedestal square so we could install a computer fan without modification?

WhyyNot (author)mcmasterp2017-08-08

Thank you. I really enjoyed making this project. I'm planning on adding an improvements section where I will suggest swapping the computer fan motor with a faster dc hobby motor. I'll be able to design a new base that would snugly fit the motor eniminating any problems centering the propeller.

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