Magnetic Levitating Turbine - Tinkercad




Introduction: Magnetic Levitating Turbine - Tinkercad

About: Just another tinkerer

Hello fellow makers,

Today I would like to show you how I made this magnetically levitating "turbine" using Tinkercad.

This is a great model to use in a classroom to demonstrate magnetic fields and fan blade efficiency, if the kids have access to a 3D printer at school it will also be a fun experiment for them to design their own fan blades and then test the efficiency of a few designs.

As there are virtually zero friction the fan can rotate in the slightest of breezes and makes a great desk ornament.

Let's get started on creating your own...

Step 1: What You Will Need:

To replicate this Instructable you will need the following:

  • Access to a 3D Printer

This design will use no more than 15 meters of filament.

  • Access to a computer with Tinkercad
  • 10mm X 3mm Ring neodymium magnets X2

Amazon - 10x3 Ring neodymium magnets 25pcs

  • 10mm X 3mm Neodymium magnets X4

Amazon - 10x3 Neodymium magnets 50pcs

  • A needle
  • 100mm X 3mm Metal rods X2

Amazon - 100mm X 3mm Stainless rods

  • ~20mm X 1mm thick piece of hard material like glass or metal

* I have included amazon links as a reference to items that I've used.

Step 2: Tinkercad:

All parts in this Instructable was designed in Tinkercad using only the basic shapes making it easy for anyone with internet access to modify it to their liking.

The next two steps will show how each individual component was made.

I would urge anyone that has not previously worked with CAD software to give Tinkercad a go as it would teach you a great new skill and is a great stepping stone to more advance programs like Fusion 360.

Link to Tinkercad design

Step 3: Tinkercad: Turbine

>> Move mouse cursor over images to show notes on the process <<

I made a "mold" that I use to size and taper the fins on the turbine so that any design of the blades fits into the stand and also makes printing easy because of the gentle angle.

Remember to make use of the "Align" command in Tinkercad (select objects + "L" key) to easily centre objects and align to top or bottom.

Note that changing the length of the centre column of the turbine will change where the lower magnets will need to be to make it levitate. If you make it longer the metal rods will have to be longer as well.

Step 4: Tinkercad: Stand

>> Move mouse cursor over images to show notes on the process <<

The 3 parts that make up the stand are also made from only basic shapes and very simple to adjust according to your needs.

Moving the "arch" out of the way will reveal the two slots of the magnets if you need to adjust the size to suit your magnets.

Step 5: 3D Printing:

Now that you have designed your parts and downloaded them in STL format from Tinkercad it's time to get printing.

Because I wanted to place mine in a window sill where it will be exposed to sun most of the day I decided to print the parts in PETG but you can also use PLA if it will not be in direct sun.

As I used PETG I ended up using a slightly larger nozzle and higher layer height as usual.

My print settings are:

Nozzle: 0.5mm Stainless Steel

Layer Height: 0.28mm

Filament: Sunlu Black PETG

Temperature: H-240 B-80

Speed: 30mm

No support

Using a PEI sheet for bed adhesion I had no issues but if you are experiencing problems printing the "turbine" you can add a brim to help support the print.

Step 6: Assembly: Magnets

With all the required parts printed we can start assembly.

It is very important that your magnetic poles are facing the correct direction (see picture) otherwise your turbine will keep falling and not stay suspended by the magnetic fields.

The two ring magnets will push into either side of the "turbine".

The four plain neodymium magnets will slide into the slots on the top of the "legs".

Depending on the printing tolerances of your printer the magnets should go in with a light tap and held in place by friction otherwise you can use some 2 part epoxy to keep them in place.

Step 7: Assembly: Stop

In order for magnetic levitation to work we need a single contact point, this will stop the magnetic force from pushing the turbine off of the stand.

The lowest friction method I found is a normal sewing needle attached to the turbine that pushes against a very hard material on the stand.

The "mirror" I used is actually the disk/platter from an old hard drive, it is aluminium with a cobalt alloy coating. This makes it easy to cut to size and gives you a good looking hard surface, just double check if you are doing the same as some platters are made from glass or ceramic and not aluminium.

The design has a hole where the needle fits into but because it is so small most printers won't print the actual hole but it will give you an indication of where the centre is, I just heated up the needle with a flame and pushed it in with 10mm sticking out.

The mirror was just glued into its slot with 2 part epoxy.

Step 8: Assembly: Rods

All that's left to do now is to slide the stand legs onto the rods.

Start with the one that doesn't have holes completely through, the rods should go in with some light taps.

Now slide on the next piece with as pictured making sure of your magnets orientation as pictured in Step 6 (the magnets should attract each other).

Next slide on the end stop and you're done!

Slide the middle stand so that it is about 10mm from the mirror end and test to see if your blades levitates, adjust this middle part in small increments until you have a level levitation.

Step 9: Troubleshooting:

- Turbine fall with no resistance or is attracted by lower magnets

  • Check magnets are facing the right direction as pictured in Step 6
  • Check that the front magnet in the turbine is slightly behind the centre of the lower front magnets, if not increase or decrease the length of the needle or slide the mirror forward

- Turbine wobbles uncontrollably or falls when spun

  • Make sure it is placed on a perfectly level surface
  • Check that needle is centred
  • Turbine is not balanced, try printing with start points set to "Random"

- Turbine falls when speed increases

  • Stability can be improved by making a small indent in the "mirror" on the spot where the needle pushes against when level
  • Turbine is not balanced, try printing with start points set to "Random"

Step 10: Enjoy!

Hope you guys enjoyed this Instructable and get tons of enjoyment and hopefully not too much frustration out of it.

If you have any questions or suggestions please leave a comment below and feel free to share your own creation with me and the Instructable community by clicking the "I Made It!" button below.

Thank you for reading and HAPPY MAKING!

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    11 months ago

    I know I am late to the party, but couldn't the needle be eliminated by using a longer turbine shaft, placing repelling magnets on each end and corresponding magnets on risers like the mirror stand to make it appear more truly floating?


    1 year ago on Step 1

    Are the rods magnetic or just metal poles ... " magnetic poles are facing the correct direction " ... i dont understand this


    1 year ago

    Great work, and this will be fantastic for a physics class!
    I think you could clarify that not all neodymium magnets will work. They have to be axial magnetized. I know that you can understand this by looking at the design in step six, but to those who don´t know that much about magnets could help them to buy what they really want.
    You can also add a step where you test the polarity and paint the N or S with a marker. It will help to complete the installation easier.

    Thank you for this idea! :)


    1 year ago

    I think the orientation of the magnets shown in step 6 is wrong. The turbine will levitate if all 6 magnets have their North ends pointing in the same direction. If the turbine magnet North is to the right as shown in the diagram, won't the turbine clamp down on the leg magnets that have North to the left?


    Reply 1 year ago

    The middle bottom magnet holder is adjustable on the rods, in the image it's a bit too far to the left. It should be moved more to the middle so that the north poles are facing each other.


    Question 1 year ago

    Hi. Is there any reason why all the magnets can't be the ring version? Thank you for a great project!


    Answer 1 year ago

    Thank you!
    You can definitely use ring magnets for all of the magnets the only reason I used normal magnets for the lower ones is because they have a slightly higher flux density, originally my turbine was heavier and needed the stronger magnets.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks, I'll give it a try.


    1 year ago

    Fantastic!! And so well documented :D


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you very much! :)