While desktop 3D printing is an incredible technology, it’s got some pretty clear limitations. Plastic parts can be produced quickly in a 3D printer but can be more expensive or take longer to make than parts from materials like wood. Plastic parts can also be weaker than materials like metal. If a 3D printer is all you have on hand, though, you can often make some design choices that improve the performance of a plastic part over other materials. That’s what [1970sWizard] did to make this axial hand-cranked generator.
Besides a few pieces of off-the-shelf hardware and the wire and magnets, the entire generator is printed. The actual generator is made from coils of wire with exposed leads which snap into a plastic disc which acts as the generator’s stator. The magnets also snap into a separate disc which is the rotor of the generator and is attached to the drivetrain, with no glue or fasteners required. A series of gears on two other axes convert the torque from the hand crank into the high speed necessary to get usable electricity out of the generator.
The separate gear shafts were necessary to keep from needing a drillpress, which would have allowed fewer axes to be used. This entire machine can be built almost entirely with a desktop 3D printer, though, which was one of the design goals. While it’s largely a proof-of-concept, the machine does generate about 100 mW of power which is enough to slowly charge USB devices, power lights, or provide other sources of very small amounts of energy. If you do have access to some metalworking tools, though, take a look at this hand-cranked emergency generator.