Introduction: Electrostatic Motor

Picture of Electrostatic Motor

3D printed electrostatic motor

Goal: No ball bearings, easy mounting, new different design with low power requirements


1x 3mm screw about 10mm long e.g. unused screw from old PC hardware

1x 50 mm wire ~0.5-1mm e.g. paperclip

1x aluminium foil or copper foil e.g. self-adhesive aluminum tape for sealing or plain foil to glue

1x HV power source e.g. Wimshurst, Van-de-Graaff, Flyback Transformers

3D printed parts:

558.384 base.stl
58.984 electrode.stl - you need at least two printed
287.884 rotor.stl
258.384 screw_top.stl - to fix the wire for the rotor

All files netfabb checked

Step 1: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

Print the parts on your 3D printer - i used 100% infill and only standard settings, no support required

Electrode.stl has to be printed twice. But you can use up to four electrodes with this design

First add the copper or aluminium foil to the rotor and the electrodes as shown in the picture

The electrodes have a sharp edge at one side which will only fit in one direction to the base - towards the rotor blades. The rotor blades need also be covered with foil because it will receive the charge from the electrodes.

When you have glued or used self-adhesive foil for the eight motor blades and at least two electrodes you

can add a piece of wire ~ 50 mm long e.g. the bigger paper clips. The wire has to be strong enough to hold the rotor in place and goes into the middle hole of the base. It will not fall through - just put it in and then take the screw_top.stl (alias the nut) printed part and screw (press fit by closing the screw) it together with the base to fix the wire.

Put the rotor on the wire so the small cylinder of the rotor is on the top side and the wire goes through

Cut the wire just above it is visible from the rotor and then add the 3mm screw to adust the height about the base.

Finally clip the electrodes into the slot you want e.g. 180° opposite from picture or 90° works too.

Attach your HV power source to the electrodes.


JonathanZhu made it! (author)2016-02-20

The friction between the rotor and the base is a crucially important factor i this system; thus you NEED to install a screw on the top in order to reduce the friction!

JoshW44 (author)2016-01-09

now i have question about my neon sign transformer - i use it for Jacobs ladder no problem, so i know it puts out the 12kV, but its AC - do i need to use HVDC (like your other example with the flyback transformer and the FET?)

JoshW44 made it! (author)2016-01-09

i downloaded the files and used Creator Pro to print. Turned out great i think - only things i saw were the electrode holders might need some beefing up and also, i used an 8d nail for the shaft (pointy end up) and drilled and tapped the top for a #4-40 screw.

WalidM (author)2015-05-13


Bt we have no 3d printer . :(

mtuxun (author)WalidM2015-11-17

Print it in a fablab! (or create a fablab in your city!)

joehan (author)WalidM2015-05-13

Print with 3D Hubs!

WalidM (author)joehan2015-11-10


radiovan made it! (author)2015-07-08

I'll have to build a new HV source to get this to run since it didn't go with my old 12v transistorized flyback "Tesla coil". I might also try reprinting the base to get both electrodes perfectly parallel to the rotor. Great project, thanks for the .stl files.

eLab (author)2015-06-14

Very cool project!

rhofstad (author)2015-05-31

Hello Nice project!

Cold anyone be kind enough to provide a link to a webshop where i can buy a PSU that is suitable for this project? I have no experience what so ever with this kind of PSUs

tyscott (author)2015-05-15

What voltage did you supply to get the motor to start turning?

joehan (author)tyscott2015-05-22

Have not tried to figure out the lowest voltage level yet.

akm3726 (author)tyscott2015-05-22

The soda bottle motor described below by Marciot runs at 5kV dc.

tyscott (author)akm37262015-05-22


tyscott (author)tyscott2015-05-16

That's not a voltage. did you use 1kV? 10kV? Could you give me an estimate of what voltage range you used or give me a link to the specific power supply that you had?

joehan (author)tyscott2015-05-16

High voltage DC

akm3726 (author)2015-05-14

I'm having trouble understanding how this could work with a DC voltage - say from a Van der Graaf. I can see it might work with a high voltage AC source like a neon sign transformer or a fly-back transformer, although I can't see where the torque comes from. What power supply did you use in the demo video?

marciot (author)akm37262015-05-15

I was puzzled too. This is a variant of a soda bottle motor. Here is a good explanation:

akm3726 (author)marciot2015-05-22

Thanks, That was a very good explanation. This design does not seem to have the brushes to put the charge on the rotor, though. I guess there must be corona or sparking between the stator and rotor, followed by electrostatic repulsion. BTW the minimum supply voltage for the bottle motor was 5kV DC.

joehan (author)akm37262015-05-14

It uses DC.

Charges of equal sign e.g. two negative charges will repulse each other.
Positive and negative charge will attract. The rotor is first used as dielectric part in a
capacitor. Then through the rotor blade conductor material configuration the electric field is forced backward against the stator electrode.

schockmade (author)2015-05-19

I love it. I wasn't going to comment, but feel I need to cast a vote of pure appreciation and adoration. Months ago my brother and I started to recreate an electric motor that we built in our youth. We planned on 3D printing it and making an instructable, but we stalled out on making our design work again. We know what you made here and we applaud it.

joehan (author)schockmade2015-05-21

Many thanks! I'm not doing this to win anything, it's only a small step for something different and a lot of fun. Building a new type of machine is a great challenge ;)

I once did for example

which only had the small side effect - to be potentially dangerous ...

isaac_alaska (author)2015-05-19

I believe it can only work if the electrodes and motor parts are close enough that elections can jump across. A very sharp pointed edge will probably allow that. Without any electron transfer I don't think will work at all

joehan (author)isaac_alaska2015-05-19

Yes right, electrons jump across. You should be able to hear the ticking sound in the video. The electrodes do have sharp edges as described. I made this instructable to explain how to make your own motor with 3D printing using about 12 KV. But can be lower because you can also use only 90° configuration of the electrodes. There is no mystery how this works because it's physics from the text book. The only important thing is you can make it yourself very easy with a 3D printer or you can use 3D Hubs and let one print for you.

VendicarD (author)2015-05-16


Like Evolution, this science is straight from the pit of hell.

joehan (author)VendicarD2015-05-16

;) and a little bit pixie dust

OrienteeringGuy (author)2015-05-14

Sure would be interesting to see how fast it would spin in a vacuum!

lucav (author)OrienteeringGuy2015-05-14

in The vacum there in no air bearing beetween The nail and te The 3d printed part

fred3655 (author)2015-05-11

How many RPM's? Does this have the power to move air with a fan attached? Any tests to see wattage versus work being done? I will have to play with this, but only if it is somehow energy efficient and produces useful work.

joehan (author)fred36552015-05-13

Well i have no measurement device now to get the rpms.

As i put in 2 Watts it's not useful to attach anything. Maybe just make the blades sloped instead of vertically will do the trick to get a small fan.

joehan (author)2015-05-13

Thank you for the perfect description!

JrDeveloper (author)2015-05-11

in what will this come useful?

It doesn't need to be! It's an awesome science demo on the cheap!

joehan (author)BrownDogGadgets2015-05-12

Because you asked - it's for free!

cmcmullen2 (author)2015-05-11

Can't believe I never thought of this. Amazing job!

script_coded (author)2015-05-11


seamster (author)2015-05-11

This is excellent! Thank you for sharing this, and for including the files.

About This Instructable




More by joehan:PhenakistoscopeTIE FIGHTER Model SLICER HRZ004Electrostatic Motor
Add instructable to: