Interview with Sam Ordonez, creator of the 3D printable wind turbine

Meet Sam Ordonez, a mechanical engineering student with a minor in Aerospace at Oregon State.

He’s got extensive experience building and prototyping things, as that’s what he also does for fun.

When did you first become interested in robotics and engineering?

I’ve been into tweaking and building since literally before I could speak. I’d take apart hairdryers, remote controls, fans, toy cars, anything I could get my hands on. I started taking engineering classes in High school with my first drafting class. I also joined our robotics team my senior year, became the lead machinist and we went to the PNW championships for the first time ever.

What are you currently working on?

We’re currently designing and prototyping 3D printable wind turbine geometry. The idea is to design an inexpensive, durable and easily-serviceable system with comparable performance to consumer models. Eventually, we’d like to release our models as open-source packages so people with access to 3D printers could make their own residential-scale wind turbine system, provided they can also supply their own generator and grid tie system. Our files would include the nacelle, nose cone and rotor system. It’s designed to be assembled from the printed models and about $15 of supplies available at any hardware store (screws, nuts, bolts, gaskets, etc.). Additionally, if a piece is damaged or breaks, a new one could be printed and easily substituted.We’re traveling to the Philippines this summer to install two prototypes of our first system (unofficially named the Swallowtail 1k). We chose the Philippines because I have family there that could help give me feedback on the system’s performance. Additionally, we’re looking into sustainable solutions to rural power outages. In the Philippines, most people resort to diesel generators which compound the already poor air quality situation they face.

What’s the functionality of that turbine?

A wind turbine turns the kinetic energy of moving air into electric energy you can use in your house. Our plan is to yield all the structural and aerodynamic pieces to build a wind turbine. After we prototype our first model, we plan to slightly alter the nacelle geometry to be compatible with the most common and most inexpensive generators we can find. All these configurations will be available for free so people will be able to choose their own generators and print a housing and rotor system to fit.

How many members do you have in your team?

Our team has three members. Myself (Sam Ordonez, prototyping and project lead), Michael Barden (Structural), and Josh Griffin (Electrical), who I’ve known since high-school.

How did you come with that idea?

The idea came about on its own one particularly ambitious morning. We were talking about 3D printing at breakfast and it came about, so I immediately took to pen and paper and started drafting ideas for how to construct a rotor system from small enough pieces to be printed.

When will be the first prototype ready and how are you planning to test it?

We’re flying to the Philippines this summer to install our first two test models in local areas around where my family’s from. Our system will be ready by mid-August, barring unforeseen circumstances.

With the inception of the 3D printers, how do you foresee the future of engineering? Do you think there will be a rise of its popularity, especially among the younger generations?

3D printing is still a very new technology. This means it’s only going to grow, I’ve personally been exploring its conveniences and I think it won’t be long until the public catches on. Once people realize how much potential there is, I believe there will be more room for projects like ours to have a meaningful effect on technology.

We bet many people will be interested in following the evolution of this project, where can they follow you?

We have a GoFundMe page:

I also post updates randomly on my project Instagram (73nWVS)

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