Hey! This thing is still a Work in Progress. Files, instructions, and other stuff might change!

Balloon Powered Turbine

by petropixel, published

Balloon Powered Turbine by petropixel Feb 6, 2013

Featured Thing!

4 Share
Download All Files

Thing Apps Enabled

Order This Printed View All Apps


Use This Project

Give a Shout Out

If you print this Thing and display it in public proudly give attribution by printing and displaying this tag.

Print Thing Tag

Thing Statistics

27249Views 4949Downloads Found in Mechanical Toys


This was an idea I had when fiddling with the balloon car. I spent the day thinking about how to make it instead of going out to buy new balloons, so I haven't actually tested it with a good balloon, but sticking a straw in the inlet and blowing spins it up pretty fast and makes a cool turbo whistle sound.

UPDATE: I actually bought new balloons! 12" "helium-quality" party balloons. They spin the turbine, but they have larger necks so you have to hold the balloon in place and there is some leakage. I'm working on a version 2 with a larger inlet, as well as a larger diameter output shaft.

UPDATE 2: Version 2 is here, and you can see it work! http://youtu.be/8Q6svYMZowU
It only runs for about 3 seconds, I'm assuming that's because I opened the inlet up? Maybe because I don't want to pop a balloon this late at night again. Sounds cool, though.


Measure the necks on the balloons you're going to use. If they're about 10mm. print all the parts that don't have a 2 in the filename. If they're closer to 15mm, print version 2.

Run a drill bit (13/64 in or 5.18 mm) by hand through the hole in the housing, then slide the pin through the rotor, fit it into the housing and clip the pin on the other side. The clip down't seem to stay put, but I haven't has it come off and send the rotor flying either. Glue it in place if it bothers you.
If you've downloaded version 2, you might not have a drill bit big enough (it'd have to be a bit over 10mm), so clean up the hole and the pin with sandpaper instead. The clip seems to fit better.

If you want to be really cool, you could design some sort of machine or vehicle around this. It's already got peg sockets to snap it in, you'd just need do design a new pin that works as an output shaft.

More from Mechanical Toys

view more

All Apps

3D Print your file with 3D Hubs, the world’s largest online marketplace for 3D printing services.

App Info Launch App

This App connects Thingiverse with Makeprintable, a cloud-based mesh repair service that analyzes, validates and repairs most common mesh errors that can occur when preparing a 3D design file for p...

App Info Launch App

Kiri:Moto is an integrated cloud-based slicer and tool-path generator for 3D Printing, CAM / CNC and Laser cutting. *** 3D printing mode provides model slicing and GCode output using built-in...

App Info Launch App
KiriMoto Thing App

With 3D Slash, you can edit 3d models like a stonecutter. A unique interface: as fun as a building game! The perfect tool for non-designers and children to create in 3D.

App Info Launch App

what i am going to use it for is a turbo drive for my traxxas revo 3.3 puttign a tub on the existing hole and puttign it on my rc's exhaust drilling hole next to the other to make it an exit for air to go into the rc's air intake to the engine

Did a high speed test with compressed air. The turbine was well ballanced. Only issue was the retaining clip could not handle the force. I think it went well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z12b_a_X6kI&feature=youtube_gdata_playerhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?...

could be the basis for a helicopter toy!

The wheel clip from the turbine car http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:51842http://www.thingiverse.com/thi... can also be used as a heavier-duty turbine retaining clip. In my testing I found it added too much friction, but this could be overcome by sanding it, or maybe just adding a source of constant air pressure instead of a balloon?

Balloon Turbine Car

I found that after a few seconds of running at 90psi the parts wore themselves together and the friction between them went away. After that a ballon can spin the turbine quite easily.

I love this design, just one question;
How did you print the turbine? With supports or without?

You should be able to print all these parts without support.
On the turbine wheel itself, the fins/blades provide enough support to print the ring around the top.

This brings me to the idea to design gadgets which are powered by air, e.g. using a vacuum cleaner. So you won't need any electronics or engine to let it run.

I will see if I can design a vacuum cleaner engine which can be used as universal engine.

Make it into an air raid siren! I've seen one other siren on thingiverse but it wasn't very loud.

I've been playing around with this idea. Shrank that other siren down to the size of this turbine, printed it and... it barely sounds different than the balloon turbine alone. Tried running it with a power drill, no sound and very little air movement. Still have one more idea to try.

what is your other idea?

I tried driving a small siren with the turbine, then making a siren stator that was also a turbine housing with a balloon inlet. Neither were particularly effective.

I tried driving a small siren with the turbine, then making a siren stator that was also a turbine housing with a balloon inlet. Neither were particularly effective.

Very cool. Would there be heat concerns with running this as part of machine as suggested? I suppose you could modify it for bearings around the shaft if it was a problem.

What material is that? I'm loving the color!

Didn't really give much thought to heat because my research (googling "balloon turbine" and watching this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeyIdDlJB28http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... ) showed the runtime would only be 10-15 seconds. I suppose it might become a problem if you had a much larger balloon or a hose from an air compressor.
The material is Makerbot blue ABS.