Introduction: 3D Printed Omni-Drectional Wheel / Fidget Toy

About: Currently designing, 3d printing, building, wiring, and programming robots.

This instructable will show you how to go about building an omni-directional wheel for use as a fidget toy or as an omniwheel.

Step 1: What Is an Omni-directional Wheel?

Omni-directional wheels are similar to normal wheels, except they have "rollers" built into the sides. These rollers allow the wheels to slide from side to side. Imagine if you had four omni-directional wheels installed on a toy car. Normally, you would only be able to push this car forwards and backwards, but with the omni-wheels, the car can move in all four directions. Basically, an omni-wheel is a wheel with many tiny wheels built into it.

At this point, you may be wondering what an omni-wheel is good for. When used correctly, an omni-directional wheel can allow a vehicle (usually some sort of robot) to move in four directions (forward, backward, left, or right) without turning the chassis. This is achieved by rotating each wheel independently (either clockwise or counterclockwise). For example, look at the third image above. The red rectangles represent the rollers in the omni-directional wheel. When just two of the wheels are turning in the same direction, the chassis will move in that direction because the rollers on the wheels perpendicular to the rotating wheels eliminate the friction with the ground. By using this technique, omni-directional movement can be accomplished.

(Image from Servo Magazine)

Step 2: Supplies

For this project, you will need:

  • m2x6 screw (x12)
  • m2 nut (x12)
  • m2x6 standoff (x3)
  • 12 gauge solid core wire (more than 102 mm)
  • Sandpaper
  • Access to a 3D printer

Step 3: 3D Printing

Download these STL files for the wheel and print them. You will need:

  • roller (x12)
  • base (x1)
  • cap (x1)
  • indexed - base (x1)
  • indexed - cap (x1)

*Note: There are two types of wheels. They may look similar, but one of the files has holes indexed by 15 degrees (pi/12 for those people).

Step 4: Cut the 12 Gauge Wire Into 6 Pieces About 8.5mm in Length.

Step 5: Insert the Wires Into the Rollers

Make sure that the midpoint of the wire is about coincident with the midpoint of the rollers.

Step 6: Place the Rollers in the Wheel Base

Use your finger to test the spinning ability of the rollers. They should turn easily with very little friction. If they get stuck or are difficult to turn, you can sand them down until they rotate to your liking.

Step 7: Place the Wheel Cover on the Wheel Base

Step 8: Fasten the Wheel Cover to the Wheel Base

Use the m2x6 screws for this step.

Step 9: Repeat Steps 3-7 for the Indexed Wheel

Step 10: Attach the Standoffs to a Wheel

Use the m2x6 screws and m2x6 standoffs for this step.

Step 11: Fasten the Separate Wheels Together

Use the remaining 3 m2x6 screws for this step.

Step 12: Quarter for Scale

Step 13: Conclusion

I have not yet tested this wheel in omni-directional movement, so if you choose to use this design in your project, I can not guarantee it will work (if anyone does use it in their project, I would love to hear how it goes). However, I do have experience with this as a fidget toy. I sat through many remote learning sessions with this in hand, and I have learned that to get the best out of this design, you should only use half of it (the result after step 7). This lowers the profile of the object by more than half, and allows it to fit extremely well in the jean "watch pocket" (you know, the tiny pocket inside of the larger pocket).

I hope this instructable inspired you. If you have any questions, concerns, pointers, or criticisms, don't hesitate to leave a comment. I will be happy to discuss this project with you, and there is always something I can learn.

Thanks for taking the time to view this project.


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