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How to Build a Simple Desktop Fan

Jun 03, 2023Jun 03, 2023

Whether you construct it from 3D printed parts or cardboard, this low-cost DIY desktop fan will keep you and your devices cool.

If you are thinking about your next DIY project, consider building a simple desktop fan, as it doesn't require a lot of components or tools. We're going to 3D print the various parts of our fan—if you don’t have a 3D printer, you could use cardboard instead, although it won't be as durable.

You need to have the following components to make the fan:

Once you have gathered all the items needed, follow the steps below to start building the 3D printed version of the fan.

There are a lot of files for desktop fans that you can download and 3D print, but for this project we'll use a toroidal blade desktop USB fan design—you can download the files from its Thingiverse page.

There are five files, and you need to download them all. After downloading, extract and import them to a 3D printer slicer to prepare them for 3D printing. After importing, you can arrange them so that all can be 3D printed together.

Once you've set everything, you can slice the models and start 3D printing. None of the parts require 3D printing supports, and you can use an infill of 30% and 0.22 mm layer height. When you finish 3D printing, you should have the parts shown below.

Do the necessary post-processing activities, and then you should be ready to assemble those parts.

Take the mini DC motor and insert it into the middle section of the fan casing, and the tip should face upwards, as shown below.

Next, insert the wires of the motor through the hole on one side of the casing.

Ensure you don’t pull them much, so they don’t disconnect from the motor. Insert the wires into the opening on the side of the casing until you can see them in the small connection box of the case.

Take a scalpel blade or sharp knife and cut near the tip of the USB cable to expose the wires, as shown below.

You need to connect the wires on the USB cable to those from the motor in the connection box inside the fan casing.

To attach the propeller to the motor, begin by placing glue on its hole so that it can hold it tightly. Put a glue stick on your hot glue gun, then insert it into a power source.

When the glue gun has heated for a few minutes, point it to the hole of the propeller and apply the glue.

You can then insert the propeller into the motor and wait a few minutes so that it attaches firmly. It should be able to rotate freely. Once that's done, attach the upper casing, as shown below.

Then, use the glue gun to apply glue on the sides so that it can hold firmly.

You need two M3 screws to attach the stand to the fan. Once you have the screws inserted, use a screwdriver to tighten them.

As you do so, ensure you don’t use much force, otherwise it may break the handle or the fan's casing. The final step is to connect the USB cable to the power supply. You have now successfully built a desktop fan using 3D printing!

Instead of the 3D-printed parts, you can use cardboard to create the various parts of the fan. You will use the same electrical components highlighted above. To begin, follow the steps below.

Take one section of a cardboard and use a compass and a pen or pencil to draw the structure of the various components of the fan, as shown below.

Take the scalpel blade or scissors and carefully cut out those sections. Ensure you use a ruler so that the pieces are the same size. Then, cut out four rectangular pieces and place them on the four sides of the design. Use the glue gun to put glue on the top sections. Then, take another box of the size you drew earlier, create a circular shape inside, and place it on top. You should have a structure like that shown below.

You can then use smaller pieces to close the gaps in each corner.

Take the compass and measure the distance of the motor from the middle section to one end.

Draw a circle in the middle of the casing that you drew earlier and cut it out.

This is where you should position the motor. You can then place four thin rectangular box pieces on the sides. Wrap another long and thin box piece around the circular box you removed from the motor section. Apply the glue to ensure that it holds firmly.

Draw one propeller and then use it as a template to draw and cut out six more. Apply glue on one side of each and attach them to the motor section you just created.

Prepare several small circular boxes and attach them to the motor using glue. Then, attach the motor to the casing and ensure that you apply the glue again so that it holds firmly.

Connect the motor to the USB cable, then plug the latter into the power supply. You have successfully built a fully functional desktop fan from cardboard!

Now that you know how to build your desktop fan at home, you can try it yourself. The good thing about the two methods above is that they are low-cost, and you can customize the fan's appearance based on your needs. For example, you can add decorations, such as stickers, to make it more unique. You can also experiment with different sizes and shapes of cardboard or different 3D printable files to create a fan that is perfect for you.

Sammy has been covering 3D printing and 3D modeling topics since 2017. He has written for various websites, including All3DP (one of the most popular 3D printing magazines), 3Dsourced, and 3DWithUs. He owns six 3D printers, and when he is not writing, you will find him designing and 3D printing objects.He is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Information Technology.