3D Printed Scale Model RX-2 Chaipattana Low Speed Surface Aerator

November 13, 2017 | ProgressTH During a recent visit to the park, I noticed several different models of surface aerators working to keep water circulating and from becoming stagnant. One was pulled out of the water for maintenance allowing me to get a closer look. It seemed very simple and the thought of creating a floating platform with 3D printing began to grow.

Upon doing some research, I discovered the differences between the different models here in Thailand, including one of the first in Thailand and the inspiration for the design and distribution of many more around the country.

It was the RX-2 Chaipattana Low Speed Surface Aerator which was designed and built under the direction of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. While it serves the same purpose as other aerators, it does so in a very different way.

A central wheel slowly spins, lifting perforated buckets out of the water and allowing them to slowly drain with a rain-like effect.

The resulting scale model is part a tribute to the late King, part 3D printing experiment, and part kinetic sculpture.

3D Designing & Printing

The model was built up in SketchUp and can be accessed here at the SketchUp 3D Warehouse.

The model was then printed out on our ExtraBot 3020 3D printer. With its 300x200x200 mm build volume, the large print was still a challenge. A lot of friction welding was required.

I then wired up a small 12V 35byj46 stepper motor to drive the wheel.

With everything working, I even decided to test it in water and it actually worked.

All that's left to do is apply some PLA plastic-safe epoxy on the pontoons to fully waterproof it and tidy up the wiring to ensure maximum safety.

All the files and a detailed explanation can be found on Thingiverse here.

What we noticed was that even out of the water, while it is turned on and with its 3D printed ball bearings quietly creaking along, it's a very interesting kinetic sculpture, one with meaning and history behind it, a working model of an actual piece of equipment that is used all over Thailand today to make stagnant water more suitable for agriculture, aquaculture, and recreation.

And now with the project almost complete, we have a proof of concept of a floating 3D printed platform we can expand on for other projects including environmental monitoring, free floating automated fish feeders for larger aquaculture operations, and more.

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