Cut Your Own Gears With This DIY Machine

You can buy gears off the shelf, of course, and get accurately machined parts exactly to your chosen specification. However, there’s something rugged and individualist¬†about producing your own rotating components. [Maciej Nowak] demonstrates just how to produce your own gears with a homemade cutting tool.

The cutting tool for the job is an M16 machine tap, chosen for the smaller flutes compared to a hand tap. This makes it more suitable for cutting gears. It’s turned by a belt driven pulley, run by a small motor. The workpiece to be cut into a gear is then fed into the cutting tool by sliding on a linear bearing, with its position controlled by a threaded rod. The rod can be slowly turned by hand to adjust the workpiece position, to allow the gear teeth to be cut to an appropriate depth.

The method of action is simple. As the tap turns it not only cuts into the workpiece, but rotates it on a bearing as well. By this method, it cuts regular teeth into the full circumference, creating a gear. Obviously, this method doesn’t create highly-complex tooth shapes for ultimate performance, but it’s more than capable of creating usable brass and steel gears for various purposes. The same tool can be used to cut many different sizes of gear to produce a whole geartrain. As a bonus, the resulting gears can be used with M16 threads serving as worm gears, thanks to the pitch of the tap.

If you find yourself needing to produce tough metal gears on the regular, you might find such a tool very useful. Alternatively, we’ve explored methods of producing your own sprockets too, both in a tidy manner, and in a more haphazard fashion. Video after the break.

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Magnetic Gearbox Design Improvements Are Toothless But Still Cool

Any project that contains something called a “flux modulator” instantly commands our attention. And while we’re pretty sure that [Retsetman] didn’t invent it after hitting his head on the toilet, this magnetic gearbox is still really cool.

Where most gearboxes have, you know, gears, a magnetic gearbox works by coupling input and output shafts not with meshing teeth but via magnetic attraction. [Retsetman]’s version has three circular elements nested together on a common axis, and while not exactly a planetary gear in the traditional sense, he still uses planetary terminology to explain how it works. The inner sun gear is a rotor with four pairs of bar magnets on its outer circumference. An outer ring gear has ten pairs of magnets, making the ratio of “teeth” between the two gears 10:2. Between these two elements is the aforementioned flux modulator, roughly equivalent to the planet gears of a traditional gearbox, with twelve grub screws around its circumference. The screws serve to conduct magnetic flux between the magnets, dragging the rotating elements along for the ride.

This gearbox appears to be a refinement on [Retsetman]’s earlier design, and while he provides no build files that we can find, it shouldn’t be too hard to roll your own designs for the printed parts.

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3D Printed Strain-Wave Gearbox Turns Up The Torque

3D printers are good for a lot of things, but making parts for power transmission doesn’t seem to be one of them. Oh sure, some light-duty gears and timing belt sprockets will work just fine when printed, but oftentimes squooshed plastic parts are just too compliant for serious power transmission use.

But that’s not a hard and fast rule. In fact, this 3D-printed strain-wave transmission relies on the flexibility of printed parts to work its torque amplification magic. In case you haven’t been briefed, strain-wave gearing uses a flexible externally toothed spline nested inside an internally toothed stationary gear. Inside the flexible spline is a wave generator, which is just a symmetrical cam that deforms the spline so that it engages with the outside gear. The result is a high ratio gear train that really beefs up the torque applied to the wave generator.

It took a couple of prototypes for [Brian Bocken] to dial in his version of the strain-wave drive. The PLA he used for the flexible spline worked, but wasn’t going to be good for the long haul. A second version using TPU proved better, but improvements to the motor mount were needed. The final version proved to pack a punch in the torque department, enough to move a car. Check it out in the video below.

Strain-wave gears have a lot of applications, especially in robotic arms and legs — very compact versions with the motor built right in would be great here. If you’re having trouble visualizing how they work, maybe a Lego version will clear things up.

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Stackable 3D-Printed Gearbox For Brushless Motor

Affordable brushless motors are great for a variety of motion applications, but often require a gearbox to tame their speed. [Michael Rechtin] decided to try his hand at designing a stackable planetary gearbox for a brushless motor that allows him to add or remove stages to change the gear ratio.

The gearbox is designed around a cheap, 5010 size, 360 KV, sensorless motor from Amazon. Each stage consists of a 1:4 planetary gear set that can be connected to another stage, or to an output hub. This means the output speed reduces by a factor of four for each added stage. Thanks to the high-pressure angle, straight-cut teeth, and fairly loose clearances, the gearbox is quite noisy.

To measure torque, [Michael] mounted the motor-gearbox combo to a piece of aluminum extrusion, and added a 100 mm moment arm to apply force to a load cell. The first test actually broke the moment arm, so a reinforced version was designed and printed. The motor was able to exert approximately 9.5 Nm through the gearbox. This number might not be accurate, since sensorless motors like this one can not provide a smooth output force at low speeds. As [Michael] suggests, adding a sensor and encoder would allow for better testing and low speed applications. Check it out in the video after the break.

We’ve featured a number of [Michael]’s projects before, including a bag tracking corn hole board, and a 3D printed linear actuator. Continue reading “Stackable 3D-Printed Gearbox For Brushless Motor”

3D-Printed Gear Press Can Squash Stuff, Kinda

A press is a useful thing to have, whether you like destroying stuff or you simply want to properly install some bearings. [Retsetman] decided to build one from scratch, eschewing the typical hydraulic method for a geared design instead.

The benefit of going with a gear press design is that [Retsetman] was able to 3D print the required gears himself. The design uses a series of herringbone gears to step down the output of two brushed DC motors. This is then turned into linear motion via a rack and pinion setup. Naturally, the strength of the gears and rack is key to the performance of the press. As you might expect, a fair few of the printed gears suffered failures during the development process.

The final press is demonstrated by smooshing various objects, in true YouTube style. It’s not really able to destroy stuff like a proper hydraulic press, but it can kind of crush a can and amusingly squash a teddy bear. If you’re really keen on making a gear press, though, you’re probably best served by going with a metal geartrain. Video after the break.

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The shredder after being rebuilt, on the bench top, with the washing machine pulley driving it spinning. It has not yet been fed, but that's about to happen.

Shredder Rebuilt From The Ashes, Aims To Produce More Ashes

What do you do when you buy a broken shredder and, upon disassembly, find its gears in pieces? You might reach towards your 3D printer – this one’s not that kind of shredder, however. [New Yorkshire Workshop] gives us a master class on reviving equipment and putting it to good use – this one’s assigned to help turn their cardboard stores into briquettes for their wood burner.

But first, of course, it had to be fixed – and fixed it was, the crucial parts re-designed and re-built around a sturdy wooden frame. It was made into a machine built to last; an effort not unlikely to have been fueled with frustration after seeing just how easily the stock gears disintegrated. The stock gear-based transmission was replaced with a sprocket and chain mechanism, the motor was wired through a speed controller, and a washing machine pulley was used to transfer power from the motor to the freshly cleaned and re-oiled shredder mechanism itself. This shredder lost its shell along the way, just like a crab does as it expands – and this machine grew in size enough to become a sizeable benchtop appliance.

After cutting loads of cardboard into shredder-fitting pieces, they show us the end result – unparalleled cardboard shredding power, producing bags upon bags of thinly sliced cardboard ready to be turned into fuel, making the workshop a bit warmer to work in. The video flows well and is a sight to see – it’s a pleasure to observe someone who knows their way around the shop like folks over at [New Yorkshire Workshop] do, and you get a lot of insights into the process and all the little tricks that they have up their sleeves.

The endgoal is not reached – yet. The shredder’s output is not quite suitable for their briquette press, a whole project by itself, and we are sure to see the continuation of this story in their next videos – a hydraulic briquette press was suggested as one of the possible ways to move from here, and their last video works on exactly that. Nevertheless, this one’s a beast of a shredder. After seeing this one, if you suddenly have a hunger for powerful shredders, check this 3D printed one out.

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Tracked RC Vehicle Is (Mostly) 3D Printed

While wheels might seem like a foundational technology, they do have one major flaw: they typically need maintained roads in order to work. Anyone who has experience driving a Jeep or truck off-road likely knows this first-hand. For those with extreme off-road needs the track is often employed. [Let’s Print] is working on perfecting his RC tracked vehicle to take advantage of these perks using little more than 3D printed parts and aluminum stock.

This vehicle doesn’t just include the 3D printed tracks, but an entire 3D printed gearbox and drivetrain to drive them. Each track is driven by its own DC motor coupled to a planetary gearbox to give each plenty of torque to operate in snow or mud. The gearbox is mated to a differential which currently shares a shaft, which means that steering is currently not possible. The original plan was to have each motor drive the tracks independently but a small mistake in the build meant that the shaft needed to be tied together. [Let’s Print] has several options to eventually include steering, including an articulating body or redesigning the drivetrain to be able to separate the shaft.

While this vehicle currently has no wheels in order to improve traction, [Let’s Print] does point out that a pair of wheels could complement this vehicle when he finished the back half of it since wheels have a major advantage over tracks when it comes to steering. A vehicle with both could have the advantages of both, so we’re interested to see where this build eventually goes.

Thanks to [Joonas] for the tip!

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