Introduction: Ice Cream Machine

Portfolio School, a Project Based Learning K-5 school in NYC, engages students in numerous interdisciplinary projects. As part of our "introduction to making" at the beginning of the year students created their own ice cream machines, while learning about temperature, states of matter, the history of commercialization of ice, electricity, laser cutting, soldering, and hacking. It was designed by the Director of Project Based Learning Nancy Otero and improved upon by the students.

At the end of the project we had the Exhibition Night where we invited parents to try students' delicious ice cream and listen to the mechanism that make the ice-cream machine work, how to build one, and how to make ice-cream. You can see the video we made that night :)

Hope you have a great time making your ice cream machine and let us know if you have any questions.



  1. Laser cutter
  2. Soldering station
  3. Wire stripper
  4. If you want to modify the files: Inkscape/CorelDraw/Illustrator and a caliper


  1. Duck tape
  2. 12 volts motor with a gear box
  3. Switch
  4. Acrylic
  5. 12 volts power supply
  6. Plastic container
  7. 6 inch tall smaller metal container
  8. Wire Soldering paste
  9. 2 screw

Step 1: Step 1: the Circuit

  1. Cut the end that doesn't connect to the wall of the power source
  2. Strip the first layer of the power source not all the way but until you see the red(+) and black(-) wires
  3. Strip the black(-) and red(+) wires
  4. Cut two pieces of wire
  5. Strip two more wires on both sides. I did one black(-) and one red(+) to be consistent with the colors inside the cable of the power supply. They will be used as extensions to connect to the switch and motor
  6. Solder or connect with electric tape the black(-) wire to the black(-) wire from the power supply and the red(+) wire to the red(+) wire of the power supply
  7. Connect the black(-) wire to one side of the motor
  8. Connect the red(+) wire to "off" side of the switch
  9. Connect the other side of the switch (on) to the other side of the motor
  10. Test the circuit! The motor should turn on when you connect the power supply to the wall and turn on the switch

Step 2: Step 2: the Laser Cutter Parts

  1. Laser cut the seven pieces
  2. Pieces 1, 2 and 4 are the mixer and should be connected. This part will mix the ingredients and add air into the mix to make the ice cream fluffy
  3. Use acrylic cement to glue those three pieces
  4. Piece 3 will be used to hold the metal container in the center of the plastic container and will later be referred as the ring
  5. Pieces 5 and 6 will be legs where 7 connects. The legs should be on opposite sides of the diameter of the plastic container. You can attach them to the plastic container with duck tape or with screws. The down side of screws is that the screws might scratch your hand when you add the ice.
  6. Piece 7 fixes the motor
  7. Put all the pieces together and make sure they fit. A possible problem can be the internal diameter of the ring. The metal cans can vary on diameter. You might need to adjust that in a vector graphic software like CorelDraw, Inkscape, Illustrator, etc.

Step 3: Step 3: Putting the Machine Together and Making Ice Cream

To make ice cream you need:

  1. Small pieces of ice, the ice needs to fit in between the metal can and the plastic can. The ice needs to be frozen for at least 48 hours.
  2. Rock salt
  3. Basic ice-cream ingredients: 1 cup of heavy cream, 1/2 cup of milk, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 spoon of vanilla.
  4. Add your own flavors

Steps for making ice cream:

  1. Mix all the basic ice-cream ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Add other ingredients that you may like. Find more ice cream recipes here or create your own!
  3. Hold the metal can in the middle of the plastic container, add a layer of ice all around the metal can. Add salt to the ice, add another layer of ice and then more salt, keep doing this all the way until the ice is where the ring will be.
  4. Add the ring so it can hold the metal container in the middle of the plastic container.
  5. Transfer the ingredients to the metal container.
  6. Add the mixer to the metal container.
  7. Connect the motor to the mixer.
  8. Connect the ice-cream machine to power.
  9. Turn it on for 20 minutes.
  10. Turn it off, disconnect the machine.
  11. Close the metal container and put in on the freezer for at least four hours.
  12. Enjoy the ice-cream!
CNC Contest 2016

Participated in the
CNC Contest 2016

Epilog Contest 8

Participated in the
Epilog Contest 8