Wire race bearing

Adding Wire Races Improves 3D-Printed Bearings

Like a lot of power transmission components, bearings have become far easier to source than they once were. It used to be hard to find exactly what you need, but now quality bearings are just a few clicks away. They’re not always cheap though, especially when you get to the larger sizes, so knowing how to print your own bearings can be a handy skill.

Of course, 3D-printed bearings aren’t going to work in every application, but [Eros Nicolau] has a plan for that. Rather than risk damage from frictional heating by running plastic or metal balls in a plastic race, he uses wire rings as wear surfaces. The first video below shows an early version of the bearing, where a pair of steel wire rings lines the 3D-printed inner and outer races. These worked OK, but suffered from occasional sticky spots and were a bit on the noisy side.

The second video shows version two, which uses the same wire-ring race arrangement but adds a printed ball cage to restrain the balls. This keeps things quieter and eliminates binding, making the bearing run smoother. [Eros] also added a bit of lube to the bearing, in the form of liquid PTFE, better known as Teflon. It certainly seemed to smooth things out. We’d imagine PTFE would be more compatible with most printed plastics than, say, petroleum-based greases, but we’d be keen to see how the bearings hold up in the long term.

Maybe you recall seeing big 3D-printed bearings around here before? You’d be right. And we’ve got you covered if you need to learn more about how bearings work — or lubricants, for that matter.

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Plasma-Powered Thrusters For Your Homebrew Satellite Needs

It seems as though every week we see something that clearly shows we’re living in the future. The components we routinely incorporate into our projects would have seemed like science fiction only a few short years ago, but now we buy them online and have them shipped to us for pennies. And what can say we’ve arrived in the future more than off-the-shelf plasma thrusters for the DIY microsatellite market?

Although [Michael Bretti] does tell us that he plans to sell these thrusters eventually, they’re not quite ready for the market yet. The AIS-gPPT3-1C series that’s currently under testing is designed for the micro-est of satellites, the PocketQube, a format with a unit size only 5 cm on a side – an eighth the size of a 1U CubeSat. The thrusters are solid-fueled, with blocks of Teflon, PEEK, or Ultem that are ablated by a stream of plasma. The gaseous exhaust is accelerated and shaped by a magnetic nozzle that’s integrated right into the thruster. The thruster is mounted directly to a PCB containing the high-voltage supplies and control electronics to interface with the PocketQube’s systems. The 34-gram thrusters have enough fuel for perhaps 500 firings, although that and the specifics of performance are yet to be tested.

If you have any interest at all in space engineering or propulsion systems, [Michael]’s site is worth a look. There’s a wealth of data there, and reading it will give you a great appreciation for plasma physics. We’ve been down that road a lot lately, with cold plasma, thin-film plasma deposition, and even explaining the mystery of plasmatic grapes.

Thanks to [miguekf] for the tip.

Power From Paper

Comedian Steven Wright used to say (in his monotone way):

“We lived in a house that ran on static electricity. If we wanted to cook something, we had to take a sweater off real quick. If we wanted to run a blender, we had to rub balloons on our head.”

Turns out, all you need to generate a little electricity is some paper, Teflon tape and a pencil. A team from EPFL, working with researchers at the University of Tokyo, presented just such a device at a MEMS conference. (And check out their video, below the break.)

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Spark Plug Music

This is (video above) perhaps the most abstract way of playing sounds…ever. Yes, we’ve heard Hard Drive music and Obsolete technology bands, but [DJ Sures] brings us the first ever, spark plug instrument.

Much like Velcro and Teflon, the musical spark plug is claimed to be an accident. After testing energy use vs. spark power with his flare stack ignition controller, [DJ Sures] noticed that different frequencies could be produced. It was only a matter of reprogramming before death metal Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is heard. Now he just needs to refine it a bit and build a full stereo cabinet.