Introduction: Manufacture Custom Gears With a Craft Cutter and Shrink Plastic
Here are some competing products which can be used with Make the Cut software though I have not tried these products specifically, they look like they do about the same thing
Klic-N-Kut computerized craft cutter
Step 1: Materials
for this you need:
a craft cutter which works with Make the Cut and can accept accept arbitrary vector art. I'm using a Cricut with updated firmware (before the lawsuit happened). See this instructable for how that worked.
some sheets of type 6 plastic, aka shrink plastic or "Shrinky Dinks"
"make the cut" software, or similar
a crisp image of the gear you would like to replicate
an oven. (I use a toaster oven dedicated to baking plastics like shrinky dinks and sculpey).
Step 2: Locate Gear Images
I found a bunch of ideas in this book: "Five Hundred and Seven Mechanical Movements". You can buy it on Amazon or find it for free on Google books.
Try to find the cleanest image of the gear you want that you can. I had to touch mine up in Photoshop to get them cleaner. The more crisp the image, the easier it will be for the cricut. Also, it's better if you find gears that are already in pairs, that way you know the teeth will line up.
I'm sure a lot of these gears have proper names, though I'm not sure what they are. If you know of any other cool gear designs, please let me know.
Note, some gears just wouldn't bake straight, like the pinion example below (with the red x). It seems to be better if the design isn't too thin
Step 3: Use Pixel Trace to Import the Image Into MTC
Load the gear image into MTC with pixel trace.
Step 4: Cut Out the Gear
Load the plastic into the cutter.
Then choose either Slow or Optimal cutting speed and set it to cut multiple times. I've had pretty good luck setting multiple cuts to 3 and using depth 5 of the cutting blade.
Don't try to cut too many at once. Mine tends to freeze up when I do that. I probably don't have enough memory in my computer to cut more than a few at a time.
Step 5: **carefully** Remove the Cutout
Very carefully remove the cutout from the cutting mat. Don't rush it. The plastic tears easily, just go very slowly.
Step 6: Bake It!
Set the oven temperature for 325 and bake the plastic on a smooth flat metal surface for about 3 minutes.
The baking time will vary according to how thick your pan is, how far away from the heating element it is, the model of your oven and whether or not you preheated.
Step 7: Baking Goofs
Some designs just wouldn't bake well because they were too thin.
Don't overbake or you wind up with a biscuit!
Step 8: Yay Gears!
You can now make gears!
I haven't figured out quite what to do with them yet, but I think they're pretty cool