We have already witnessed the usage of 3D printing technology for producing or testing new innovations for a variety of engines and automobile engines, rocket engines and replica steam engines, all of them have been created using the technology. Recently 3D hobbyist Greg Zumwalt created something, which indeed is the first creation of its own type, an engine that runs on a balloon. He made this device using 3D printing technology and original designs. The device was later on made available online for everyone who wants to create their own Single Cylinder Air Engine.
The earliest design that was used for Single Cylinder Air Engine’s 3D model was done via AutoDesk’s Fusion 360 CAD software. A famous 3D printer Ultimaker 3 was used to give a final touch to the device after its 3D model was sliced by Cura 2.3.1 software, which was specifically designed by the Ultimaker for working with its latest 3D printer. The material that became Zumwalt’s choice was PLA filament. All the design files have been made available for free download by him accompanied by a cooperative virtual model for dealing with the process of assembling. He is open to all the feedbacks and modifications, which might help in the improvement of its project.
Zumwalt's established his career in software and video games design in Oklahoma. After his retirement he has been using his skills for the development of 3D printing projects and makes them available for free downloads on his instructables page. His latest development The Single Cylinder Air Engine seems to be his best innovation till date. The simple yet functional engine can run on air power from any source and work well with both an increase and a decrease in pressure. The basic design includes two ports which are one upper and one lower port. When the upper port will be pressurized the wheel will rotate clockwise and counter-clockwise on applying vacuum. If the upper port is in use then the lower port will work as an intake or an exhaust. Whereas the process will be reversed accordingly while using the lower port.
His test video demonstrates the air from an inflated balloon that makes the plastic pistons spin smooth and fast. Though if you are having access to a 3D printed but don’t have a balloon then you need not to worry as the engine can be fueled by numerous methods. As any air pressure can be used which means that you can either use compressed air, a vacuum cleaner or an old lung power will also work. The design of the device has 3 different adapter, which makes the engine compatible with these sources.
It’s always good to see Hobbyist’s 3D printing techniques that creates fun yet functional products and especially it’s more like a creative activity when it engages other people with 3D printing. And maybe its adaptive nature is the key feature of these 3D designs, which cannot go unnoticed by bigger manufactures as the balloon powered engines is potential of being the future of the industry.