Picture of Custom Mechanical Biorhythm Computer, 3D printed
Update: After posting this, I realized that it's missing the most important part of any instructible! I'll be posting a complete list of parts, complete with STL files for them, in case you want to build one on your own. In the meantime, I've attached the full STL model below, and made it downloadable at both Ponoko and Shapeways. Have fun!

The goal of this project was to automatically generate a mechanical computer.

Furthermore, it should...
    ...compute something useful,
       ...be made to order, and unique to each person,
          ...and emerge from the 3D printer pre-assembled, ready to run.

Sure, um, no problem.

The first major obstacle: Using 3D modeling tools
Let's put it this way: I can build something in a 3D modeling package, just like I can eat my breakfast using only a hammer. I won't starve, but I sure don't want anyone looking over my shoulder while I'm doing it.

I'm a software engineer, but there's no way I'm comfortable enough in a package like Maya or Blender to build a custom computer made of gears.

...still, the process was ultimately successful (you can play with the 3D model here), so the rest of this instructible will be an outline of what was involved.

(See the attached PDF for an interesting short description of the final machine)

waldosan3 years ago
that is extremely complex, but it has gears! which is awesome! i could probably watch that spin for five hours without any problems. and i noticed the vertices that supported the gears,exceptionally well done! bravo! you should seriously think about getting it made out of brass, it'd probably cost an arm and a leg but they technically do have 3-d printers that spray glue onto brass sand, then they stick it in an oven and it becomes solid. you'd be like the king of steam punk!

and after laying it on that thick i suppose you should definitely ask Ms.HotSharpToxic out to a big fancy restaurant for dinner. wait she's an engineer, find the closest machine shop and build a trebuchet or something, engineers dig that stuff!
LabRat (author)  waldosan3 years ago
Trebuchet... now why didn't I think of that? Genius! She'll love it for sure. Now if only there was a website where you could learn to make things... oh right, there is! :]


On it.
Beautiful! I liked the rethinking about its shape. 3D printing has changed our way of thinking!! I agree about the steampunk goal... how to adapt this and help it grow into a full fledged Victorian artifact? Great job. Thanks for sharing.
vincent75203 years ago
Congratulations !…
I can say only one thing, and I'll say it loud and clear for everyone to hear :


Danielk3 years ago
Awesome use of gears! Seriously though, axle rose? really? I laughed more than I should have at that.
LabRat (author)  Danielk3 years ago
Oh yeah, um, sorry about that one. Really couldn't be avoided. I tried. ;]

I neglected to post the parts list for DIY'ers, but in case you want gears, I made the full 3D model a free download at these links on both Ponoko and Shapeways.