One of the killer apps of 3D printers is the ability to make custom gears, transmissions, and mechanisms. But there’s a learning curve. If you haven’t 3D printed your own gearbox or automaton, here’s a great reason to take the plunge. This morning Hackaday launched the 3D Printed Gears, Pulleys, and Cams contest, a challenge to make stuff move using 3D-printed mechanisms.
Adding movement to a project brings it to life. Often times we see projects where moving parts are connected directly to a servo or other motor, but you can do a lot more interesting things by adding some mechanical advantage between the source of the work, and the moving parts. We don’t care if it’s motorized or hand cranked, water powered or driven by the wind, we just want to see what neat things you can accomplish by 3D printing some gears, pulleys, or cams!
No mechanism is too small — if you have never printed gears before and manage to get just two meshing with each other, we want to see it! (And of course no gear is literally too small either — who can print the smallest gearbox as their entry?) Automatons, toys, drive trains, string plotters, useless machines, clockworks, and baubles are all fair game. We want to be inspired by the story of how you design your entry, and what it took to get from filament to functional prototype.
Prizes and How to Enter
Head over to Hackaday.io and publish a project page that shows off your gears, pulleys, and/or cams — enter using the “Submit Project To:” dropdown on the left sidebar of your project page.
There are no strict requirements for what information you share but here’s some advice on wooing the judges: We want to see what you went through during the project. Show off your planning, the method you used to fabricate it, share design files/drawings/schematics if you can. Tell the story like you would if standing around the workshop with your best friend.
Three Exceptional Entries will each win a $275 cash prize
Seven Runners-up will each win a $100 Tindie gift certificate
Full contest rules are available on the contest page.
What Kind of Mechanism Should I Print?
Mechanical advantage is used everywhere. Once you start looking you won’t be able to stop seeing examples of it. You could change the gear ratio in a consumer item, animate the inanimate by building an automaton, or build your own machine tool. Those examples are shown here, but there are more on the contest page, along with some recommended design tools to get you started.
Do you have a favorite software for designing gears, pulleys, or cams? We’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments below. Warm up your creativity and get designing!