by mattmoses, published

Electromagnet by mattmoses Aug 15, 2009
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Electromagnet by mattmoses is licensed under the Public Domain license.

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This is an attempt at a printable/castable electromagnet. The coil is made from plastic castings and low-melt alloy. There is one base-disk and four coil-disks in the assembly. Each coil-disk has 1.5 turns, so there is a total of 6 turns in the coil. The magnetic core is made from iron powder mixed with epoxy.

This electromagnet did not work very well. With a current of tens of amps it can barely move a paperclip. Poor performance is probably mostly due to the low permeability of the magnetic core. It is possible that the same device with a solid iron/steel core would work much better.

Maybe you can improve on the design, or at least avoid making the same mistakes that we did. The construction techniques may also be of some interest. We used plastic castings, but the disks can probably be printed or laser-cut. The use of multiple disks avoids the overhang problem common in 3D printers, but it does not capitalize on the printer\'s strengths, such as the ability to print a single part with complex internal geometry.

An experimental solid is also uploaded with coils formed from internal cavities. The coil block is about 3cm tall and contains 11.5 turns. The internals were designed to minimize overhangs. I have no idea if this object will print well or not. As a visual aid, an inverse of the coil block is also provided (coilChannel) so you can see what is going on inside the block.

If anyone makes a working electromagnet you could put it on this thing http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:329 to make a motor!


Be careful if you actually try to do anything with low-melt alloy. It is messy, toxic, and hot enough to cause burns. Use it only if you are experienced working in a lab environment.

Instructions and more details are in the file Electromagnet.pdf

The AD_PRT files are Alibre Design parametric solid models. A lightweight version of Alibre is available as freeware.

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the epoxy acts as capacitive medium with the iron filings. the little metal filings are being insulates by the less conductive epoxy causing you to require more current to complete the circuit in the core. maybe you could try some sort of conductive liquid solder paint or something. your idea of using iron filings is genius! I hope you post if you improve your experiment.

Great design, I wonder if you could use saturated salt water for a non metallic electromagnet. Not sure what the application would be but it could be cool.