3D-Printed Clock Escapement

About: I'm a tinkerer, creator, builder, thinker, and engineer from Southern California.

This project was inspired by a summer program I did at UCSD called COSMOS (California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science). One of the projects there was a pendulum clock which students make out of laser cut acrylic. The clock ticks like a real clock, and lets you visualize how clocks work internally. The ticking mechanism is called an escapement, and is often used in other clock mechanisms. Because I don't have access to acrylic or a laser cutter, I decided to CAD the project and make it work with purely 3d printed parts and share it!

For this project you need a 3d printer, bearings (I used 2 fidget spinner/skateboard bearings), string, and a small weight (I used a metal keychain).

Step 1: Make the CAD Files!

Follow the steps here if you want to CAD the project yourself. I made one that has a space shuttle pendulum, which you can download and print off of thingiverse here. For my files, the part tolerances (given 3d printer accuracy) are already included, so you don't need to worry about fit for all the parts.

If you are going to CAD the whole project, you need to keep in mind the tolerances of your bearings (if 3d printed). I used 608 skateboard/fidget spinner bearings for this. If you lasercut acrylic, you can get a smoother surface finish so you don't need bearings.

Step 2: Print!

Print the files with your 3D printer! The bracket is long, and may have a tendency to warp. Other thingiverse users have posted remixes where they have sliced the bracket in half. Find them on my thingiverse page here.

Step 3: Assemble!

Follow the video explanation and the instructions on the thingiverse page. For my parts, the 608 bearings should fit in fairly tightly, and with some glue they will be secure. Wind up the string around the wheel and attach a weight (I used a keychain). More info here.

Step 4: Enjoy!

Watch my video. If it is ticking like that and spinning in the same direction, you should be done! Sometimes the parts come out a bit large and the tips of the pendulum fork need a bit of sanding, but it should not be anything major.

Check out the amazing Hackaday article about the project here!

Thanks! Post a make on thingiverse if you get a chance!



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    3 Discussions


    3 months ago

    Nice clock. Try moving the hanging weight to the other side so the escapement wheel will rotate clockwise; it will also allow the pendulum to swing more freely and keep better time.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 months ago

    That was a consideration, but I decided against it. Having too much weight on one side of the axle may torque the axle out of alignment. Also, the weight might get tangled in the many protrusions of the pendulum; even as it is it sometimes gets caught on the axle cap of the pendulum axle.

    In general, it keeps things nicer looking and less cluttered on the front. Thanks for the feedback!