3D Printed Water Turbine

June 2017

The final project for my AP Physics class was very free form. I decided to create a project focused primarily on what I had learned in my CAD class, 3D printing. I decided to create a Water Turbine which incorporated my passion for sustainability and renewable energy. I modelled the parts of the project in AutoCAD and 3D printed it using the MakerBot printers at our school. I then fitted the turbine with an electric generator and implemented it to demonstrate my understanding of induction.

To design the turbine, I stripped down a hand-crank flashlight and took the electric generator from it. Using calipers, I measured the dimensions of said generator and created a cubby for it to sit inside of. The cubby had holes that allowed access to the leads and the shaft of the generator. I then designed two spur gears that interlocked at 90 degrees to connect the shaft of the turbine to the generator. The wheel was designed to ensure at least 1 paddle was always submerged in the water at any time.

The wiring, which powered an LED with the generator, was meant to demonstrate the success of the water turbine. Unfortunately, the turbine was not very efficient and therefore could barely power the LED. Despite that, some light was visible when the wheel was spun by water.

Despite the inefficiencies of the turbine, I am very proud of the outcome of my work. If I were to do this again, I would have designed a better method of fastening the turbine shaft into its respective hole. This was because the shaft, and therefore the green gear, would sometimes pull away from the red gear, and therefore, stop turning the generator. In addition, I would perform more research on tolerancing of the material I was using for printing since the mouting hold of the red gear to the generator shaft was too large.