Typically, when we think of 3D printed parts, we think of unique parts with complex geometries that would be hard to fabricate with other techniques. Strength is rarely the first thing that comes to mind, due to the limitations of thermoplastics and the problem of delamination between layers. However, with smart design, it’s possible to print parts capable of great feats, just as [Brian]’s high-torque gearbox demonstrates.
The gearbox consists of entirely 3D-printed gears, along with the enclosure, with the only metal parts being a few bearings and shafts. Capable of being produced out of PLA on a regular FDM printer, [Brian] has successfully tested the gearbox up to 132 kg∗cm. The suspicion is that there may be more left in it, but some slippage was noticed in the gear train when trying to tow a Ford Focus with the handbrake still on.
Even better, with the addition of a potentiometer, the gearbox can be used as an incredibly tough servo. [Brian] demonstrates this by lifting 22 kg at a distance of 6 cm from the center of the output shaft. The servo does it with ease, though eventually falls off the bench due to not being held down properly.
It’s a build that shows it’s possible to use 3D-printed parts to do some decently heavy work in the real world, as long as you design appropriately. [Brian] does a great job of explaining what’s involved, discussing gear profile selection and other design choices that affect the final performance. We’ve seen similar work from others before, too. Video after the break.