DremelFuge - A One-Piece Centrifuge for Rotary Tools

by cathalgarvey, published

DremelFuge - A One-Piece Centrifuge for Rotary Tools by cathalgarvey Dec 23, 2009

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In the spirit of Open Source Hardware, Dremelfuge is now Open Source Hardware, according to the 0.3 standard found here: http://freedomdefined.org/OSHW

DremelFuge is a printable rotor for centrifuging standard microcentrifuge tubes and miniprep columns. Compared to the cost of a new centrifuge (priced by a fellow Thingiversian at $500 minimum on Froogle), a Dremelfuge is incredibly cheap. It can be used for DIYbio ( http://www.diybio.org ) or for some culinary uses. It requires industry standard 1.5ml/2ml Eppendorf/Microcentrifuge tubes.

  • Used with a drill at 3000 RPM, the Dremelfuge will deliver over 400g, enough to comfortably spin down Miniprep samples (proven personally). It will likely achieve acceptable results at lower speeds, too.
  • Used at 10krpm, on a Rotary tool for instance, a Dremelfuge should deliver over 4400g, more than enough to spin down bacterial cells.
  • At 16krpm, Dremelfuge matches commercial centrifuges.
  • On a Dremel 300, a maximum speed of 33krpm equates to a force of over 50,000 times earth's gravity, which puts it into so-called "Ultracentrifuge" territory. The latest version (as printed by Shapeways) has successfully spun tubes at this speed.

To see some picures of Dremelfuge used to spin down cells, see here:

Quick Video Intro to Dremelfuge: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86WnXeTZO_Y
(Update: This video hit over 1900 views! Thanks Makezine/Bre!)

A video of me using Dremelfuge practically in a tent, to extract DNA from a banana: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnyFwupk5KA

Dremelfuge is available for sale as a high-quality, robust print on Shapeways.com in two editions, each suited for up to six samples at a time: Dremelfuge Recessed Edition, to fit the cutting-tool-holder commonly found with rotary tools (5mm diameter bore), and Dremelfuge Chuck Edition, which can be quickly adapted for use in any machine with a chuck grip. They are both available here on my Shapeways shop:

Dremelfuge, as with any high-speed rotary tool, may cause personal harm or damage to property or persons in case of failure, and no guarantee, warranty, promise or suggestion of safety is made or offered by me (Cathal Garvey) with regard to DremelFuge.

Dremelfuge featured on Makezine:

Please let me know if Dremelfuge is of use to you! Please upload pictures of any printed Dremelfuges in the wild! :)

== License Stuff ==
DremelFuge makes use of the Shapes.scad script kindly released by Catarina Mota, which is released under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation. Many thanks to Catarina for this great workhorse script, as well as for letting me sidestep the "Inheritence Clause" of the license.

DremelFuge itself is released under an Attribution, Sharealike License. It's already available on Shapeways, and you're entitled to print it for yourself or someone else for free if you have a printer handy. As a personal favour, don't go undercutting me on Shapeways please, unless you have a significantly better version. And don't call it "Dremelfuge" if you do.


Dremelfuge is a home-made Centrifuge, a potentially hazardous tool. Use your own common sense, and don't take anything you've seen me do or say to be an endorsement of safety. Centrifuges require some care in order to be used safely, and a home-made centrifuge in particular will have hazards that you should be ready for if you try to use it.

If you want to use Dremelfuge, use your head and take safety precautions:
1) Print or buy Dremelfuge. If printed, use maximum infill for stability.
2) Attach Dremelfuge securely, either by tightening a chuck securely or screwing a rotary tool disc-holder securely to the center of the Dremelfuge.
3) Seat your drill or rotary tool so that Dremelfuge's shaft/axle is vertically oriented. Seat the drill/tool with the Dremelfuge into a metal chamber (such as a cooking pot) for safety, and wear eyegear and any other personal protective items you can muster in case of disintegration.
4) Starting at the lowest speed and ramping up, with no tubes or loads attached, test Dremelfuge for safety at whichever speeds you intend to use it.
5) Once proven safe at the intended speed, you can start to test and use Dremelfuge under load, that is with desired lab samples. Make certain at all times that identical tubes or columns are used, with identical amounts of fluid or mass on either side. Always balance the Dremelfuge perfectly, or accidents may result.

Here are some RCF values (g-forces) to expect when it is used with a standard 1.5ml microcentrifuge tube:
@3000 rpm - 453 rcf
@10000 rpm - 5,031 rcf
@16,680 rpm - 14,000 rcf (The highest on a standard lab centrifuge I use every day!)
@33,000 rpm - 51,520 rcf (Highest on a Dremel 300)

I have successfully spun full tubes at 33,000 RPM on a Shapeways printed Dremelfuge. "Innocent" brand smoothie sediments into pretty layers within a few seconds.

Flying bits of microcentrifuge tubes pose a blinding or injurous hazard. Dremelfuge is unlikely to break; I have yet to break one, whether from Shapeways or Makerbot.

If you enjoy Dremelfuge or feel it has aided you significantly, please consider a donation to the email address mentioned in the .scad file below, using Paypal.

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recently i have bought a dremeluge classic, I would like to get more information for the connection of a dremelfuge to the dremel 300. I would like to know how to secure the connection between the dremlfuge and the driller. I have heard (by tightening a chuck securely or screwing a rotary tool disc-holder securely to the center of the Dremelfuge) but can you telle me the best way to do it

Thanks .

i tried it with my chrispr kit and one of them hit me in the face

OK. This design is great, but be aware - I decided to make my own centrifuge at home with a little different stuff, so I used an electric RC jet engine to power this centrifuge up. It gives something about 25k RPM and that is something like 20k G, which is nice, indeed. But there is a problem with eppendorf tubes, which can probably handle much less than this centrifuge is able to provide. Long stoy short, I powered that hell machine up and things started to happen. Tubes were immediately torn in half, pieces broke the protective shield (made from a beautiful salad bowl) and turn into a stain on the wall. Now I'm thinking about catching a fly and take it to a long ride.

How many Gs can the plastic handle? I'm looking at making something about 3.5" in diameter, and putting it in a drill press, and wondering what speed range isnt going to destroy it.

I just used this to show my kids the different components of blood. I've had it a while but haven't had any fresh blood. I accidentally nicked my finger pretty good with a screw driver and whipped this thing out (had already printed it and purchased vials) and boom! Friday afternoon science (albeit a bit gross XD). Thank you for this!

I just made one of these for my biologist wife, I did some empty tests and it looks very promising, after she tests it I'm thinking of doing a CNC machined version, with some engineering polymer, just for safety's sake.

Thank you very much for sharing this, I'll post photos soon.

The new version of Dremelfuge has been tested to hold and spin tubes containing a fluid load at up to 33,000RPM, which delivers 52,000g to samples as measured halfway down the tube. For scale, most lab microcentrifuges do below 20,000g and most procedures require less than 10,000g.

Creative and new Idea!

I am having problems with the downloads, anyone else?

the first video dont work

Hi there. This is a simple and useful design. Do you have a 50 ml version of this? Do you think it'd be too heavy/risky?

Excellent 3D printable equipment for DIYbio and educational settings without the funds for large commercial centrifuges. Truly a magnificent design!

Also, where can you find facilities that have a 3d printer never mind letting you use it?

your aware most of us here are using printers right?
why else would the site be FULL of designs....

The downloads wont open, is anyone else having this problem?

What's your clamping system for mounting the Dremel tool in the video?

If you mean the tent, I was using a standard bench-clamp with a ball/socket hinge. I had the clamp arranged at right angles to the table to hold the Dremelfuge horizontally under the table.

Works great, but vibrates everything on the table if your tubes aren't balanced correctly! Also, it's a bad idea to leave a dremel running for so long, tends to get too hot and start smoking lubricant. I may need to upgrade to a better tool given how much use my Dremelfuge gets. :)

I have a little DNA sample that I need to seperate. I'm going to print this and seperate some DNA!

I printed out a couple of your pieces to show at the recent Humanity+ conference at CalTech in Los Angeles. People were very impressed with them! :)

Thanks for the print pic, and for showing it off in LA! I'm really delighted to hear they were received well. :)

Have you used the Gel Rig or Dremelfuge yet? I take it this means you're into DIYbio too? ;)

I followed your made it link to here :) This thing is a great idea!


This has the idea of being a contraption all on its own. I am working on a few motor drivers electronics. But I envision you could build this whole framework with a makerbot and http://contraptor.orgcontraptor.org (possibly makerbeam but its a bit small) to create a DIY centrifuge.

I am always looking for cool thin
gs to demo / make on the contraptor site. This seems like it would have far reaching uses. On the down side I am not a bio major :). So if someone can link me to standard mixing tubes (is that the right term) I can buy some and see if I can make this whole thing open source DIY.

Of couse I do no
t have a makerbot so some parts I might need some help with. But msg me if you want to help out with the project. I do have a few other things I am working on but I hope to at least mess with this project by early spring.


Hi Ril3y,

Sorry, I really thought I'd replied to you already! If you're still interested in Dremelfuge, it's coming along still. I've just uploaded a new draft model, and hopefully it'll improve matters significantly.

If you are interested in DIYbio stuff, I've uploaded some guides for beginners in how to culture glow-in-the-dark bacteria from seafood. They're illuminating my car outside while I procrastinate here. The guides are on my blog, http://letters.cunningprojects.comhttp://letters.cunningprojects... and will someday soon be in a frien
dly site all of their own along with newer better guides.

Meanwhile, although I'm in Europe and probably not in a position to easily send you anything, you can get microcentrifuge tubes (also called eppies or eppendorf tubes) on ebay for super-cheap. You want the 1.5ml ones, although the 2ml ones m
ight fit too.

If you decide to try it out, be really careful! I didn't suggest you do. ;) But please let me know how it goes and if it works for you.

Excellent idea and a simple one too. This is the type innovation i am glad to see in the world today, as long and humans think and act outside the box we will continue to grow.Again well done Cathal

Absolutely beautiful. Doctors Without Borders need a Makerbot.

wow, no offense, but this seems like a terrible centrifuge :P

I hope someone can come up with something a bit more like a normal centrifuge, properly encased. FYI, looks like normal centrifuges go from a few hundred RPM up to ~20k. The spinny part is weighted, I think, so that it spins more smoothly?

Well, no offense taken; this isn't designed to be a "normal centrifuge" at all. My intention is to have a single-piece, dumb-but effective tool that does roughly the same job for some routine lab tasks.

As far as I'm concerned, if this can do qiagen-style spindown DNA extraction kits, it's a success. Bonus points for spinning down e.coli from suspension. I have a suspicion it'll do both when it's ready.

Update: Turns out it applies over four times as much force as a commercial centrifuge on samples. More than enough for any lab task. In fact, it poses a hazard if used above 15krpm, as Eppie-style microcentrifuge tubes may shatter at these forces.

So. Not such a terrible centrifuge after all! ;)

I need to fix my computer that'll run OpenSCAD.
I already want to modify this design to insert a metal shaft to handle the centrifugal forces better.

other than that I really love it!

...ahem? centripetal forces.

Funny, I just tested it on a high-speed powerdrill, and it held up exceptionally well under the centripetal forces! My first draft was pretty flawed, so the posts between cavities were loose. But even they didn't budge at high spinning speeds!

I'm encouraged, but the solidity of plastic I printed probably isn't feasible for non-heated platforms.

Cool, I will need this when I am trying to make the zombie virus.

This is awesome! We need more things like this on Thingiverse.

How fast do commercial centrifuges spin?
How does one balance a commercial centrifuge?

Whoops, posted too soon. In addition to spinning faster, commercial ones tend to have smart self-balancing software. But the user is always expected to load samples of equal weight opposite one another. In other words, if you're spinning down an eppie with 1ml of e.coli suspension on one end, put an eppie with 1ml of water in the other end.

Well, how much does it cost to produce one of these? The cheapest centrifuge I could find on Froogle was still 500 USD.

In that case you can expect this one to be about 500 times cheaper than the cheapest you can find on Froogle.

Very nice Cathal!

It's free to print, although if you're using it for much practical work I'd appreciate a donation to fund futher development and work. I'm also putting it on Shapeways for sale as a more robust tool. I mean decoration. Because you're never supposed to use it.

Yes, free to print, but I don't know how to estimate material cost for Makerbot prints. Based on Erik's comment, I'm guessing it uses a dollar's worth of feedstock.

Yea, thereabouts I'd say! Depends on infill etc.
Suffice to say, it costs basically nothing next to the commercial equivalent. Unfortunately, Shapeways can't match that price. Fortunately, for the increased price, you get a totally solid print from them. More than solid enough to last a lifetime's worth of centrifuging!

Commercial centrifuges will always beat this on speed, hands down; they can apply up to 14,000g on samples

Where can I get the 5mm dremal tool to fit into my dremalfuge? I have the drill and dremalfuge from your site.

How can I fit the bit so that I know the dremalfuge is at a perfect 90 deg angle and will not wobble?