I have gotten a couple of questions of how I make my fidget spinners. It’s actually a pretty straight forward process and it just requires some basic modeling skills and some logical thinking. In this blog I will go over how I make my very own 3D printed fidget spinner. The printer I’ll be using is an Anet A8 and the software will be 123D Design (it’s free).
Start by gathering your ideas
So when looking at sites like Thingiverse, you see that most spinners are using round shapes, that’s cool and all but I prefer sharp and hard shapes. The goal of this project will be to create a futuristic looking spinner, using 3 hexnuts as weights.
I start by gathering some inspiration from YouTube, Google and existing products. In this case I just did a simple Google search for “futuristic shapes” and found some images that I liked. The next step is to create something, there are no rules except that it needs to be symmetrical in order to spin properly. I won’t be going over how to use 123D Design since there already plenty of good tutorials online, especially on YouTube.
After an hour of playing around with different shapes, this is what I got:
It looks pretty “high tech” in my opinion and will do for this tutorial. While many like to use ball bearings as weights, I like to use something smaller, it makes it easier to carry and better for doing cool designs in my opinion.
One thing to keep in mind when designing models that use separate parts like bearings and nuts is to measure them correctly. A skateboard bearing has a diameter of 22 mm, but if I use those measurements on my printer, it won’t fit. This is what’s called tolerances, I usually add 0.1 mm and most of the times everything will fit together nicely. If not, use a little more force! For my Anet A8 I use a radius 11.1 mm for the bearing and a radius 7.2 mm for the M8 nuts. If I’m happy with how everything looks, I’ll export it an .STL file and open it my slicer of choice. In this case I’m using the latest Cura beta.
My slicer settings
Now this will vary from person to person, but I’ll share my settings with you either way. I will print this in black PLA using pretty standard settings:
- 0.2 layer height
- 0.8 wall thickness
- 30% infill density (have to make it tough!)
- 200 °C for my hot end
- 60 °C for my bed
- 1.75 mm filament
- 75 mm/s print speed
- No support (might change it depending on how good the surface looks afterwards)
With these settings it should take me about an hour to print it.
The print itself
So turns out that I set my tolerances for the hexnuts a little wrong, so I couldn’t fit them properly Luckily the bearing was a perfect fit. Fixing the tolerances is pretty easy, I just need to get back into my design software and make the holes slightly bigger. Another thing I noticed was that the I could reduce the height of the outer “legs” so they sit flush with the nuts. At the moment they’re the same width as the bearing (7mm). While I’m at it, I will also be making it slightly shorter, as I want this spinner to be as compact as possible.
I’ll be printing the modified version later, but just for demonstration purposes, I pushed the nuts in with some heat and brute force. 🙂 This way I can see if something is wrong, but luckily everything worked out really good, good balance and nice size too!
Tweaking the design
I went back into 123D Design and remodeled the whole thing, the holes for the nuts are slightly bigger, the legs are shorter and also added a raised edge for the bearing. The actual model itself is 6 mm tall (hence the raised edge for the bearing), this is so the hexnuts will sit flush. I also modeled some caps, both for the bearing and the nuts.
Printing it a second time
So with the new design in place, it was time to reprint it once more. It was printed with the exact same settings as before, with a slight modification to my supports.
Because of the raised edge I had to do my own supports, I did this by placing 1mm cylinders underneath the model. Without these, Cura for some reason didn’t print any supports. I think the new model came out great, it has a really cool shape and spins good too. The nut holes were still slightly too large, but heating the plastic and pushing them in was much easier.
Sadly the bottom part of the print looks real bad due to all the supports, luckily the top looks a lot of better, so I’ll have to show that part to everyone in the future.
I’m considering adding buttons to cover up the bearing, but I haven’t had much luck in making these. I always put too much pressure on the buttons, causing the male end to break apart. I will have to look over this and create a better design, but that will be for a separate blog post.
So you’ve printed it your spinner, but what do you do? If you want it perfect you could sand it and give it a nice coat of paint, make a metal casting out of it or make even more. I always put my successful projects upon Thingiverse, you can find this one here.
If you spinner isn’t giving you as much spin time as you’d like, it’s probably because of a bad bearings, asymmetry or a misaligned bearing. For better bearings, be sure to check out my guide I’ve written here.
So that’s how I create my little spinners, it’s pretty easy and straight forward process. If you’ve done any cool designs, be sure to link them down in the comments below! 🙂