Cyclone Separator for a Shop Vacuum

by RockstarAlchemist, published

Cyclone Separator for a Shop Vacuum by RockstarAlchemist Oct 2, 2012


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First attempt at a cyclone design. The goal is an inline cyclone for my ShopVac to catch the saw dust that clogs the filter of the vac. Simply mount the base over a hole on a five gallon plastic bucket. Attach the top outlet to your shop vac and the inlet on the side to your business end. The angular momentum of the higher density saw dust should circle the cone and fall into the bucket, while the clean air passes into the vacuum. Presumably this design could be a hydro-separator, too, for those familiar with the mining industry.


A nice Wiki article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclonic_separation

There are seven parts to print for a high efficiency cyclone:

  1. Inlet X 1
  2. Outlet X 1
  3. Upper Cyclone Body X 1
  4. Lower Cyclone Body X 1
  5. Coupling Ring X 3
  6. Mounting Base x 1
  7. Body Tube x 2

This really tested the limits of my Printrbot LC+. The Lower Body is 197 mm high. You're welcome to scale it down, but the hose couplings are sized to mate directly with a standard ShopVac hose.

I used 3M x 10 hex bolts.

Based on the this data set for high efficiency cyclone design: http://www.aerosols.wustl.edu/education/cyclone/section06.html

Parameter //Recommended //Theory //Original //% Diff
D= Body Diameter //1 //144 //144 //NA
a= Inlet height //0.5 //72 //50 //-31%
b= Inlet width //0.2 //28.8 //50 //+42%
s= Outlet length //0.5 //72 //70 //-3%
De= Gas outlet diameter //0.5 //72 //44 //-39%
h= Cylinder height //1.5 //216 //70 //-68%
H= Overall height //4.0 //576 //267 //-54%
B= Dust outlet diameter //0.375 //54 //44 //-19%

Based on this theory the low hanging fruit here is to increase the height of the cyclone. I will generate several tube inserts (cylinders with ID=150mm and 3 mm thick walls and 150mm high). The same Coupling Ring can be used to join the sections.

Next for consideration will be the inlet shape. Something to force the dust into the cyclone wall ensuring is has high angular momentum along the cyclone walls. I think the depth of the Outlet length (s) is sufficient. My hope is to not have to reprint the upper cyclone body.

OK, It's complete and it works!!! The first dirt photo was a test of general junk around the shop. Very high efficiency was achieve, but the larger pieces clogged the outlet the bucket (it caught it nonetheless). The second setup was for saw dust on the table saw. Again, worked like a champ. I think the only real debris was what was stuck to the filter in the shop vac before.

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One thing you might consider in your mods is to give the inlet a 5 degree or greater downward slope. The cyclone I used in the lab used one we designed that had a 7 degree declination. Without going into the flow dynamics, what it did was impart a spiral, downward force on the debris and that aided in the separation of it from the airflow.

That´s a cool Thing.
I will try one!

Great! I'd love to see photos of the finished cyclone.

Hi, my cyclone is nearly complete ;) Do you have any electrostatic problems with your cyclone?

Only static cling of fine particles to the surface of the plastic. Didn't notice build up...or electrostatic discharge, but I haven't run it that extensively.

Hi, my cyclone works really good.
But after about 10 minutes the whole thing loads very heavily on Electrostatic. You can even measure the voltage with a normal multimeter.
A little spark in the dusty air inside might be dangerous.

I could solve the problem with copper tape.
I simply glued two strips from top to bottom of the cyclone and connected them to a grounded wire.


Also, would love to see some pictures!!

Thanks for the feedback. My experience with this would be to ground the cyclone, if you're seriously worried about it (I've done similar with filtering liquids at high rates under vacuum). However, I don't think it'd be an issue, in that, assuming you don't have an insulator between the cyclone and the bucket, the charge should go to ground anyway.

How would you ground the PLA cyclone?

I'm a chemist by training, I would ground high volume filtration glassware by taking a wire with clamps on either end and connecting one end to the lip of the glass fritted funnel and the other end to metal that was grounded. But in this case the glass funnel was electrically isolated due to a rubber grommet between the funnel and the vacuum flask, so auxiliary grounding was needed.

What kinds of voltages are you reading?

I would make a chain out of paperclips weighted so it touches the ground at all times.

Hi , very nice project!!! i am thinking make one like yours an i want to ask a question. How much filament did it cost?

i got you a hint..only print those parts that cant be built otherwise...

To be honest, I don't recall.  Not something I monitor.  I'd just have to generate the g-code and look at what Slic3r estimates, just like you would (and your setting will have an impact).  Sorry, I don't have a straight answer.

How much did the finished separator weigh? That's how much filament you used.

Hi this is really a great design! Would you mind to share a parametric version of it?

I did it in FreeCAD.  Can you work with that file format?

Yes, I do. I
guessed that you’re using FreeCAD from the background color of your screen
shots. My first idea is to use a loft from the circular to a rectangular cross
section at the inlet, in order to avoid a deadwater area.


Yes, I do. I
guessed that you’re using FreeCAD from the background color of your screen
shots. My first idea is to use a loft from the circular to a rectangular cross
section at the inlet, in order to avoid a deadwater area.

FreeCAD File uploaded.  Sorry it doesn't have better annotation, but I'm sure you'll be OK!!