The Countdown to Maker Faire Bay Area is On!


Printable mechanical CFL dimmer idea

3D Printing & Imaging Computers & Mobile Craft & Design Technology
Printable mechanical CFL dimmer idea


Interesting concept from Thingiverse user 12meyer. All kinds of potential problems here, so this is more of a “way to think outside the box” kind of shout-out than the “where can I invest in your start-up” kind. One can, of course, dim fluorescent bulbs electrically, but it turns out to be kind of a PITA. The idea here is to exploit the spiral shape of the bulb itself to make an opaque cover that screws on or off to block more or less light, respectively.

Mechanically dimmed fluorescent lamp

6 thoughts on “Printable mechanical CFL dimmer idea

  1. Colecoman1982 says:

    It’s an interesting concept but, as you said, it has some potential problems. The first I can see is that friction between the dimmer and the bulb, or any off axis twisting the user may impart accidentally, can cause the glass to break where it meets with the bulb base. Unfortunately, in order to keep the cost of the bulbs as low as possible, manufacturers make the glass very thin and fragile. It’s assumed that no-one is going to be monkeying with the bulb once it has been installed.

  2. craig says:

    I cannot forsee friction problems as I assume the material is plastic that slides on the surface of the glass. You could saw a hard plastic against the glass all day and barely put a scuff in it. More torque by seating or unscrewing the bulb itself would be applied, than fitting a properly sized/shaped plastic sleeve on it.
    Flourecents get warm not hot. But sorrounded by plastic, heat could build up, so a high temp plastic would be needed. I think semi-transparent earthtone colors could be used in the plastics to add a warm light that is also dimmable.

  3. mrmeval says:

    Burn the energy consuming bulb at maximum but cover it rather than go and buy one that consumes less energy. Fabulous idea.

    Here is an idea for a simple dim-able lamp. I have a five snake head lamp. Put 5 of the same bulbs in it and only turn on what you need. Yes there is a leveling effect with CCFLs so as some get older the get dimmer but it’s cheaper than a dim-able CCFLs. If you need more light put brighter bulbs in the ones that come on last.

    I love the lamp; you can bend each head for direct illumination, give indirect lighting or both. By turning on only what you need you save money.

    Unfortunately I can’t turn them on independently so I need to hack it. I’ll probably use an arduino and some solid state relays.

    Then I want different globes on them. I’m thinking of one that collects the light and focuses it so I can used even lower watt CCFLs.

Comments are closed.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan
Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 30% off early bird ticket sales ends August 31st, 2023!

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Prices Increase in....