How to Build a Simple Desktop Fan

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You can build a desktop air-conditioner with a few simple tools and components. 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.

What you need to build a desktop fan using 3D printing

To make the fan, you will need the following materials:


Follow the steps below once you have collected all the necessary items to begin building the 3D-printed version of the fan.

Step 1: Prepare the files for 3D printing and download them.

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.

Desktop fan 3D printable files

You need to download all five files. To prepare the files for 3D printing, you will need to import and extract them from the downloaded file. You can arrange the files after importing them to 3D print all of them together.

3D files being arranged on Cura slicer

After you have set up everything, you are ready to start 3D printing. You can print the parts with an infill of 30 % and a layer height of 0.22 mm. You should end up with the parts below when you have finished 3D printing.

Various parts of afan 3D printed together with a glue gan

After you have completed the post-processing, you can assemble your parts.

Step 2: Inserting the motor into the fan casing

Insert the mini DC motor into the middle of the fan casing. The tip should be facing upwards as shown in the picture below.

Placing the motor inside the casing of the fan

Then, through the hole at the side of the casing, insert the motor wires.

Inserting the wires on the motor through the hole

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

Step 3: Connect USB Cable to Motor

Cut the USB cable with a sharp scalpel or knife near the tip to reveal the wires.

Cutting away the covering of a USB cable to expose the wires

Connect the USB cable wires to the motor connections in the connection box located inside the fan casing.

Connecting the wires on the USB cable and those on the motor together on the casing

Step 4: Attach the propeller to the motor

Place glue into the hole to hold the propeller tightly. Hot glue guns can be powered by a gluestick.

Placing the glue stick to the glue gun

Once the glue gun has been heated for a couple of minutes, you can point it at the propeller hole and apply the adhesive.

Placing the glue on the hole of the propeller using a glue gun

The propeller can be inserted into the motor after a short wait. It should be free to rotate. After that, attach the upper case as shown below.

Propeller of a fan attached to the casing

Use the glue gun on the sides to ensure that the glue sticks firmly.

Using a glue gun to apply glue to the sides of the fan

Attach the stand to the fan

Two M3 screws are required to attach the stand and the fan. After you’ve placed the screws, tighten them with a screwdriver.

Using a screwdriver to attach the stand to the fan

As you do so, ensure you don’t use much force, otherwise it may break the handle or the fan’s casing. Connecting the USB cable with the power supply is the final step. Now you have successfully created a desktop fan with 3D printing.

Cardboard Desktop Fans: How to Make One

You can create the different parts of the fan using cardboard instead of 3D printed parts. The same electrical components as highlighted above will be used. Begin by following the steps below.

Cardboard can be cut to size by measuring and cutting it.

Draw the structure of each component of the fan on a section of cardboard using a compass, a pencil or a pen.

Using a compass, pen, and a ruler to draw the structure of a fan

Cut out the sections with a scalpel or scissors. Make sure you use a measuring tape to make the pieces the same. Cut out four rectangles and arrange them along the four edges of the design. Use the glue to glue the top sections. Place a second box in the same size that you had drawn earlier. Create a circular pattern inside it and place it firmly on top. This should result in a structure similar to the one shown below.

Casing of a fan created using Cardboard

Use smaller pieces to fill in the gaps at each corner.

Make the propellers and attach the motor

Use a compass to measure the distance between the middle and one end of the motor.

Using a compass and pen to measure the width of the motor

Cut out the circle you made earlier.

Using a compass and a pen to draw the circle where motor will be placed

Here is the position of the motor. The four rectangular thin box pieces can be placed on the side. Wrap a long and thin piece of box around the box you have removed from the motor section. Apply glue to the box to make sure it is firmly held.

The motor attached to the casing of a fan

Draw a propeller, then use it as an example to cut six more. Attach them to your motor section by gluing one side.

Preparing propellers of the fan

Attach the motor with glue several small boxes. Apply glue to the motor casing.

Connect the USB cable to the motor, and plug it into the power source. You have now successfully created a fully-functional desktop fan out of cardboard.

A desktop fan built using Cardboards

Use a DIY desktop fan to keep your computer cool

After learning how to make a desktop fan, you can build one yourself. Both methods are inexpensive and allow you to customize the fan according to your preferences. Add stickers and other decorative elements to the fan, for example, to make it unique. You can experiment with different cardboard sizes and shapes or 3D printable files in order to make a fan that suits you.

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