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Wimshurst Machine

by vonslatt Jan 13, 2015
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I'm in the process of making this machine. How do I print both halves of the Leyden jar balls and the electrode balls? The Leyden jar balls print the half with the hole, and the electrode balls print a half without a hole. Shouldn't there be two halves for each, one with a hole and one without? Also, where are all the spacers and washers used? Six are shown for each. Three spacers would be on the disc shaft, one between the discs and one on either side. And at least two washers would be on the crankshaft, between the pulleys and the vertical supports. But where are the remaining ones used?

Anyway, I really like the design. I'm planning on gilding the conductive parts with composition leaf, and using black for the discs to echo the old vulcanite and ebonite. I've been doing electrostatics for years now and I'm really anxious to see how a 3D printed machine will work.


Hmm, sounds like your slicer doesn't like the 123D Design STL files. I'd try running them through an STL repair tool like Netfabb

So I guess it should be printing all four pieces at once. I'm actually using the library's printer - I don't have my own. They have a MakerBot Replicator 2 and a Prusa i3. I haven't tried the Prusa. Maybe there's a setting on one or the other that I can change to make it print everything at once.

Also, what kind of glue did you use to glue the halves together?

Yeah, it should definitely be printing all four.

IIRC I used E6000, but it also could have been PVC cement. I usually use E6000 for PLA and PVC cement for ABS.

Try the Prusa, they are a much better tool than the Makerbot!

You're right, the Prusa does print all four pieces. Will also be using it for the base as the MakerBot's build plate is not large enough.

Next question: what type of lamp pipe did you use in the Leyden jars? I have ordinary lamp pipe and it does not quite fit into the holes on the Leyden jar tops. It does however fit the holes in the balls, collectors, and electrodes. It's not a big difference - maybe a half a millimeter and certainly not more than one millimeter. I may even be able to ream the holes out a little to make the pipes fit. I'd rather not use anything smaller because then the balls and collectors would be too loose.

I used US standard lamp pipe. The technical designation for it is '1/8"-27 NPS'

Fascinating project Jake,
After seeing your machine here and some other information on these machines, a few ideas:

  1. The PLA may have been accumulating a layer of copper from your copper braid in use faster than what your ABS does and reducing inter-sector resistance. In your above picture, not sure if the machine is static or moving, but I can see what looks like tracks on the plastic. Clear/white plastic makes great sense.
  2. Minimizing the volume of plastic between sector conductors would improve isolation, I'm thinking if you convert them to islands with skinny peninsulas physically stabilizing them in the disk's plane, they would give far better isolation. Ideally, there should be a long physical route between sectors. I think the brushes shouldn't be able to track on any material between the sectors.
  3. A disk that assembles in parts could make it easier to produce a larger machine while also being part of the sector electrical isolation design.