A 3D Printed Marble Run Features Neat Elevator Linkage

There’s seldom anything as joyful and relaxing to watch as a simple marble run. Of course, the thing about letting marbles fall under gravity is that you eventually need to lift them back up again. The Marblevator has a mechanism that does just that.

Overall, the build features a relatively simple marble run. It consists of just six 3D printed ramps which the marble tumbles down in just a few seconds. However, the real magic is in the mechanism that restores the marbles from the bottom of the run all the way back to the top.

A motor turns a gear, which then rotates a crank leading to a multi-link rhombus. On one corner of the rhombus is a small protrusion with a magnet attached, which picks up the marbles from the bottom of the run. As the mechanism turns, the rhombus shifts and brings the marble-carrying arm to the top of the marble run. There, it’s grabbed by another magnet, which holds the marble for a moment before letting it drop back down through the run.

It’s a simple project that nonetheless would make a brilliant desk toy. It’s also a great way to learn about linkage analysis and designing such systems on your own. If you’re big into marble runs, you might also consider procedurally generating them. Video after the break.

20 thoughts on “A 3D Printed Marble Run Features Neat Elevator Linkage

  1. The first link in the article is malformed. “https://www.instructables.com/Marblevator-Pick-and-Place/https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=9&v=At5PaPEwrbE&feature=emb_logo” Or at least Instructables is charfing a 404 on it.

  2. I’ll admit, that’s a linkage I’ve never seen before. Very impressive. Simplicity and function at it’s finest. I’m very tempted to build one for myself. I’m thinking I’ll go with wood rather than plastic.

    1. He Gregg,

      I design models such as this for others to print, and in this case the gear backlash is set to .5mm which accounts for the motion you observed. In my personal version, the gear backlash is set to .1mm and the extraneous motion you observe is eliminated.


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