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Ribbon ceiling fan design based on a three-dimensional helical loop

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July 8, 2010

The Ribbon, a loop-bladed prototype ceiling fan

The Ribbon, a loop-bladed prototype ceiling fan

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Bored with your plain old ceiling fan, with its old school, conservative straight blades? Perhaps what you need is the Ribbon. A one-off exercise from Australian industrial designer Ben McMahon, the Ribbon not only looks radically different than traditional fans, but is also claimed to be much more effective at air circulation. The designer obviously believes his invention has potential, as he has entered it in this year’s James Dyson Awards.

The design is based on a three-dimensional helical loop, which adds stability and increases air flow, according to McMahon. On a traditional axial fan, he states, the most effective part of a blade is the section closest to the end. His fan, essentially, is all end. Because the blade is the only non-traditional part of the Ribbon, it could be mounted on existing fan motors, thus reducing production costs and technical challenges.

The Ribbon, a loop-bladed prototype ceiling fan

To establish the optimum blade curvature, McMahon ran trials with scale models, full-size test fans, and CFD (computational fluid dynamics) simulations. He eventually ended up with a design that created a vortex, dispersing the air throughout the room. By contrast, he observed that traditional fans tended to direct the air into more of a focused plume, directly beneath themselves.

The Ribbon in motion

Of course, with any funny-looking product of industrial design, aesthetics count at least as much as function. McMahon says that once in motion, the Ribbon's blade blurs into a singular whirling loop of color, and gives “the impression of a hovering unsuspended form rotating around a static central hub.” That sounds, and presumably feels, pretty cool.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
11 Comments

Very good invention. Some Fan manufacturing companies in India designed a bend at the end of the fan blades. But in the past in India in Government Offices,hospitals,Churches etc., there used to be hand driven PUNCA(FAN) with a wooden plank 1.5 m length and 40 cm width with a cloth twisted hanging at the bottom. There is a pulley to facilitate horizontal motion. A human used to pull it. The advantage is you get horizontal motion as such gentle air. As the swept area is more, more room gets gentle wind. This can be modernised with a motor. Also one can paint pictures on the wooden plank for beauty.

Also I designed a horizontal hand fan by attaching a hand fan of Palmyra leaf to Wiper motor. As Wiper oscillates in a horizontal way one can get gentle air. Of course one has to convert DC into AC. By placing this innovative fan in froe, one can get gentle air.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India

Anumakonda Jagadeesh
8th July, 2010 @ 08:33 pm PDT

i'm surprised dyson hasn't tried his hand at making his 'bladless' fan into a ceiling fan design.

Facebook User
8th July, 2010 @ 09:38 pm PDT

I'm wondering if this design has any applications for boats/submarines....

alcalde
9th July, 2010 @ 01:02 pm PDT

A design that creates a vortex? He should shop this to Vornado. It would be a perfect fit with their line of "vortex action" air circulators. As long as it's reasonably priced, like $100, I'd buy one.

Gadgeteer
9th July, 2010 @ 03:16 pm PDT

When not in use, it gives the appearance of art.

BigGoofyGuy
9th July, 2010 @ 04:10 pm PDT

I wonder if this has any implications for helicopters!

Coaxial rotating ribbons would be much stronger and lighter than the single rotor blades, and probably require much less maintenance.

I wonder just how fast they can go?

Running chopper rotors where the tip approaches the speed of sound creates some interesting problems.

And by 'interesting' I mean 'bad'.

Hmmmm....

heldmyw
9th July, 2010 @ 04:30 pm PDT

awe some !!!!!!!!!!!! great dude ..........PERFECT AERO SHAPE BLADES :)

Bala Subramanya
9th July, 2010 @ 08:38 pm PDT

Would take forever to clean it !!!

Stretch@StiltWalker.com
11th July, 2010 @ 08:54 am PDT

I don't care that I've got low cielings, when these come out, I'm putting one up!

Looks like astonishing good design to me.

Dave B13
12th August, 2010 @ 06:48 am PDT

that's using the ole' noggin.

Dewey Buds
15th August, 2010 @ 08:46 pm PDT

I have been watching this fan for about 5 months now... I need it to be on sale as a ceiling fan asap. Anyone who knows where to get this- let me know!!!

Paula Brett
13th October, 2010 @ 07:37 pm PDT
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