3D-Printed Clock and Gears

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Introduction: 3D-Printed Clock and Gears

These are the basic components of a clock 3D-printed by a Stratasys FDM 2000. The Stratasys FDM works by laying down "hot noddles" of ABS plastic and a sacrificial material that can be dissolved by water. The hot noodles are printed layer-by-layer and fuse together building finished-quality-level parts. With careful design, you can create captured moving parts, like the interlocking gears shown in the Slideshow.

This project dates to 2001 when I was at the MIT Media Lab. I was big on clocks, and was trying to design a fully 3D-printable clock. I imagined that after dissolving away the sacrificial material, you could wind the clock up and have it start ticking. I printed working gears, springs, and escapements in my attempts to test out each of the required components.

The escapement proved to be the biggest challenge. While it did work, the tolerances on the one shown were not quite good enough for it to work consistently. In the video, I have quite a large weight pulling on the escapement wheel and the pendulum moving briskly, but if the pendulum loses just a little bit of energy and doesn't make a full swing the escapement wheel doesn't lock, and instead, spins freely dropping the weight. The weight, which is out of the video frame, is connected to a spool on the center of the escapement wheel via a white string that is almost in visible in the video. The bed size of the Statasys (about a cubic foot) prevented me from building much larger versions of this escapement where the tolerances wouldn't be as much of an issue.

Obviously, nice escapements and clocks can be built by hand, and I encourage anyone mechanically-minded to at least visualize how escapement works, if not trying to build one yourself.

I've included the complete CAD files from the escapement shown here, so you can use my models as a starting point for your own creations. EJW 3D-printed clock.zip includes Autodesk Inventor files and solid model exports (stl and sat files).


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I could make this clock with paper, if you post the 3d model, then I could post the pattern to be printed

Wasn't there a book like that ones? I'd check with amazon.com but I'm too lazy.

hello, can you help me draw clock so i print 3d

it's called "Make Your Own Working Paper Clock". The design is adjustable and had the faceplate and hands and everything. I've had a copy of it since I was a little boy, when I was younger I was too scared I'd mess it up so I never tried it. I've decided to keep it in book form, lest it become rare some day. Some people have "probably" scanned it and the pdf is "probably" floating around the internet.

Ugh I am currently building the paper clock from this book... Very tedious very frustrating... I am having a lot of trouble with this clock because the main wheel (which took more than an hour to make, btw) seems to be warped because I decided to use rubber cement instead of regular white glue, and the rubber cement wasn't strong enough, so now the main wheel won't quite turn true (it turns wobbly) which causes problems with it meshing properly with the other wheels... AGHHHH sooo frustrating

Um .. why yes .. I think I heard about that PDF somewhere. Anyone know where to find it? *whistles innocently*

Hmmm that sounded like a call of I found it here it is...

I have actually been looking for a file I could downlod of this for ages would you mind sharing them?

and By the way ... keeping the book original for this long way to go... Im sure it is collectable by now to say the least

forget what I said; I got the CAD files I will try to do it in paper, and post the patters so everyone can make their own clock

just open the files in pepakura and click unfold. youll have to convert the file to a .obj (wavefront), .dxf(autocad 3d), .mqo(metasequoia), .3ds(3ds max), .lwo(lightwave), .stl(binary stl), .kml, or .kmz(both google earth4). you wont be able to save files unless you want to spend $40 to get it registered.