In one little corner of YouTube is a small but vibrant community sharing videos about gearboxes of their own design, particularly those with very high ratios or other quirky features. Adherents of the subculture are known as gearheads, and [Let’s Print] is among them. His latest creation is a 3D printed planetary gearbox design with a focus on easy assembly and versatile ratio choice. (Video, embedded below.)
The gearbox came about as [Let’s Print] grew weary of designing bespoke geartrains for each of their individual projects. The planetary design they landed on has the benefit of being stackable, with each reduction block fitted adding a 1:3 stepdown to the train.
For testing purposes, four stages were ganged up for a total reduction ratio of 1:81. The resulting gearbox was able to lift 40 kg before its output coupler failed, no mean feat for some plastic squirted out of a hot nozzle. It’s a common problem with huge ratio gearboxes made out of plastic – often, the very components of the gearbox can’t hold up to the huge loads generated.
Regardless of the limitations of the material, we’re sure the gearbox will prove useful in future projects from [Let’s Print]. We’ve seen other tough 3D printed gearbox builds before too, such as this anvil-lifter from the aptly-named [Gear Down For What]. Dive into the online gearbox subculture yourself.