Introduction: Building and Evaluation of a 3D Printable Tesla Turbine

Picture of Building and Evaluation of a 3D Printable Tesla Turbine

I made this instructable to show how to build a tesla turbine with a 3d printer.

The Tesla turbine is an invention of Nicolas Tesla as an alternative to a bladed turbine. One of the main benefits of the Tesla turbine is that the turbine design is very simple. So simple in fact that the tesla turbine can be made with basic tools and knowledge. In this instructable I will evaluate if it is viable to make a tesla turbine using a 3D printer for rapid prototyping of your Turbine.

I will evaluate the possibilities compared to making a turbine by hand. The amount of time and precision you can achieve with your work.

Step 1: Step 1: the Design

Picture of Step 1: the Design

There are numerous free designs available on the internet to make a tesla turbine yourself. Most of these designs require making metal parts or adapting CDs and CD housings or harddrive disks. I got A design that is optimized for 3d printing.

Link design:

Step 2: Step 2: the Printing

Picture of Step 2: the Printing

For a guide on how to 3D print I would recommend looking at the following tutorial. I learned a lot from this tutorial

see here:

The simple design of the tesla turbine means there are not a lot of parts. But it is not without challenges. The flat disks are a challenge to print. I tried to print the disk vertically with a raft. If you have more time you can print them separately lying flat on the build plate.

Printer used: Ultimaker 3

Software used: Cura

Print quality 0.15 mm. Print Speed 50 m/s. support for casing. Raft build plate adhesion.

Total Print time: 2.5 hours

Step 3: Step 3: Pre Assembly

Picture of Step 3: Pre Assembly

Before you can assemble the turbine a little bit of sanding is needed. The sanding is needed to smooth out the disk from the build plate adhesion. and smooth out the casing so that the disks fit loosly enough so they can turn freely.

Step 4: Step 4: Assembly

Picture of Step 4: Assembly

The assembly itself is easy. Three 3 mm screws and your done.

Look at how small the actual turbine is. match box for size.

Step 5: Step 5: Testing the Turbine

Picture of Step 5: Testing the Turbine

I tested this tesla turbine with an air compressor.

On the pressure gauge, I got to a pressure of 2 bar. The turbine run quite well and pretty fast. See the movie clip.

Step 6: Step 6: Evaluation

I made this instructable because I build A tesla turbine by hand before and know how much work that was. I really wanted to know how well and quickly you could build a Tesla turbine with a 3d printer. I was actually surprised by how well the turbine worked.

The building was a lot easier because you can let the machine do the work. But the quality and strength of the blades are not that good.

For this small model the print time was 2.5 hours. A hand sized model would take at least 50 hours to print. Building a hand sized model by hand would be faster.

After some thinking I would recommend to use a 3D printer for certain parts not all. 3D printing would be perfect for the connectors and a way to connect the blades. For the blades I would recommend CD disk or hard drive disk.

Conclusion: You can 3d print a tesla turbine but making a full sized one would take a lot longer and there is a lack in material strength.


tomatoskins (author)2017-03-20

What a fun idea!