Introduction: Blooming Lotus Automata

Just in time for Spring

A lotus blossom I bring

For you to make yours

Bad Haiku is fun. :)

I recently finished this design of a lotus blossom themed automata and I wanted to share it with everyone. This is my first Instructable so I hope it's clear enough.

All the moving parts sit above the base. Turn the center gear from the bottom side and the 16 petal flower "blooms". Continuing rotation causes the petals to return back to the closed position.

Design Info: I used SketchUp-Make (2017) to design everything, utilizing an involute gear plugin to make the flat gears. I guessed at the gear sizes; just used what fit.

Step 1: Print the Parts

Printing all of the parts will take a little bit of time. Individual parts don't take too long but the print times add up to over a day.

Everything can be printed at the standard 0.20mm layer height at 15% infill. Sometimes I needed to use blue tape on the print bed to get the small things like the hinge pin to stick firmly.

You'll need to use your slicer's "lay object flat on the print bed" feature to rotate certain pieces before printing. I used Slic3R PE for my build.

The Parts:

  • 1x Base [Green - Amazon Basic PETG] --- This prints without supports. I suggest using PETG filament for the base. There is some slight flexing involved with assembly and PETG has a little more give to it than PLA. There is some stringing that occurs with the PETG, so I you might need to post process the base with a mini blow-torch (or heat gun)
  • 1x Set of Small Gears [Azure Blue - Prusament PLA] --- There are 16 small gears in total. To help keep the petals aligned, I suggest printing all 16 unique small gears rather than just printing 16 copies of one. The eigth gear of both the inner and outer smaller gears are not marked so you'll want to keep track of which is which until you place it on the base.
  • 1x Large Center Gear [Azure Blue - Prusament PLA] --- Prints without support, though you'll need to flip it 180 degrees to lay the large flat surface on the print bed.
  • 1x Outer Ring Gear [Azure Blue - Prusament PLA] --- Nothing special to note in terms of printing.
  • 16x Cogs ["Coffie"/Brown - Sunlu PLA] --- I call these cogs since I don't know what else to call them. They are all the same, so print 16 of them.
  • 8x Outer Petals [Sakura Pink - 3DSolutech PLA] --- Support is needed for the petals. Lay the petal along its side so that support is generated only to for the tip of the top and the geared portion. This will save a lot of time printing and support pops right off. I learned the hard way and spent a lot of pink filament trying different orientations, on its side seems to work best.
  • 8x Inner Petals [Sakura Pink - 3DSolutech PLA] --- Support is needed for the petals. Lay the petal along its side.
  • 16x Hinge Pins [Azure Blue - Prusament PLA] --- These little ones might get lost during assembly so its a good idea to print extras. Lay the pins such that they point upwards with the head flat on the print bed.
  • 1x Center Piece [Yellow - Amazon Basic PLA] --- Print upside down with or without support, up to you and your like of texture in the center.
  • 1x Chassis/Stand [Purple - Amazon Basic PLA] --- This piece is optional. It's a stand for the base.

Step 2: Assemble the Base With Small Gears

  • Note the small alignment mark on the base, this is the "Inner Gear 1" mark.
  • Note that all the small gears are marked. Outer gears are marked with rectangles and the inner gears are marked with circles. The number of marks corresponds to the gear number. Example: Outer Gear 4 is marked with four rectangles on its bottom.
  • The gears should rotate smoothly but snugly.
  1. Start by placing Inner Gear 1, drive-post up, over the inner center post marked "Inner Gear 1". If it doesn't drop down over the center post, you may need to press down and rock slightly to give the alignment some help.
  2. Next place the remaining seven inner gears on their respective post in a clockwise fashion. Keep track of Inner Gear 1 since you'll need it for orientation of the outer small gears.
  3. Place Outer Gear 1 on the outer center post above and slightly to the left of Inner Gear 1. See the illustrations for guidance.
  4. Place the remaining seven outer gears on their respective post in a clockwise fashion

Step 3: Align the Small Gears

Rotate all the gears so that their respective drive-post face towards the center of the base.

Step 4: Lock in Alignment Using Center and Ring Gears

  1. I suggest starting with the center gear to lock in the inner small gears first. Gently place the gear, flat side face up, such that the teeth mesh with all eight inner gears, locking them in place.
  2. Some slight misalignment may have occurred. You can gently press down on the outside of a misaligned gear and spin it such that its teeth skip the large inner gear. Use this technique to align the inner gears just right. You want to keep the posts pointed towards the center of the base.
  3. Gently drop the outer ring between the inner and outer small gear sets. Press down and wiggle slightly to mesh all the gears together.
  4. Align any misaligned outer gears using the skipping method mentioned earlier.

Step 5: Snap Each Cog Into Place

  • Note that the cogs are not quite symmetrical. It doesn't matter which way you choose to place the cog on the gear so log as you are consistent. I placed my cogs such that the shorter end faced outwards.
  1. Start with the inner gears. From the inside of the gear set, take one cog at a time and slip onto its respective drive post. The base will flex a little to allow you to "snap" the cog in place if you tilt it slightly when pushing it inwards. It should not take much pressure to get the cog to go in. Use patience as you can snap a drive or center post in this part of the assembly.
  2. With all the inner gears in place, twist the center gear (from the bottom, by hand) and rotate all the small gears such that their drive-posts point outwards.
  3. Place the cogs on the outer gears using the same technique as before only come in from the outside of the gear set.
  4. With all cogs in place you can now rotate the center gear to watch all the cool parts move. Return the center gear to a position such that the cogs all point inward.

Step 6: Pin the Petals

Okay, here's where it all comes together. Time to put on the petals.

  1. Place a smaller inner petal into the cog gear such that the last "half-tooth" of the petal's gear covers the last tooth of the cog. This can be a little tricky, but it wants to be aligned this way once you get it. The petal should be in the "opened" position if the cog is pointing inward.
  2. Slip a pin into the base and petal to lock it in place.
  3. Repeat the process with the seven remaining inner petals.
  4. Repeat the pinning process with the 8 outer petals.
  • The last petal might be a little tough. Don't press too hard on the other petals when trying to get the final pin in, you might break something...I broke something :P

Step 7: Optional: Melt the Pins

The hinge pins are long enough that they don't slip out due to vibration. That being said, if you want to lock them in place you can melt the ends with a hot nail.

    Step 8: Add the Center Piece

    • This piece is optional, I made it so future center-pieces can be used in its place. Maybe a picture holder or ring tree? Maybe an moving Easter egg or a bee?

    Place the Center Piece into the square hole in the center gear.

    Step 9: Play and Display

    I plan to add a motor of some sort, but for now that's it. Good job and well done!

    • Use the stand to display your creation.

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