Updated: Oct 2
In this post I share what I've learned about how to design and 3D print gears that are optimised for strength and durability. This is based on my experience with 3D printed gears that were fabricated for my Raptor 2 open source RC project.
I highly recommend watching my YouTube video which goes into far more detail:
The Power of 3D Printing
3D printing has revolutionized the way we think about gears and gearboxes. With the right knowledge, you can now 3D print gears and mechanisms that are functional and reliable. One of the biggest advantages to designing and 3D printing gears is the ability to adjust the gear ratio to match the specific needs of your project.
Why 3D Print Gears?
If you're looking to get started with understanding gears and mechanical principles, 3D printing gears is a great place to start. You can learn how to design 3D printed gears using popular CAD software packages like FreeCAD or Fusion 360, both of which have gear generator tools available. There's also the fact that it's a lot cheaper to fabricate your own parts. Being able to design and print your own gears at home means you can iterate rapidly through different versions of your parts until you find what works for your specific project.
How Strong Are 3D Printed Gears?
When it comes to the strength of 3D printed gears, there have been many concerns in the past. However, the strength of 3D printed gears has significantly improved with the advancements in materials and printing technology. With the right combination of material and printing process, 3D printed gears can be just as strong as traditional gears.
How To Design Gears for 3D Printing
Fortunately, I've created detailed tutorials for both:
How to Design Gears for 3D Printing in FreeCAD
How to Design Gears for 3D Printing in Fusion 360
The method above makes use of an incredible free tool called GF Gear Generator. I highly recommended using this plugin, which is avalaible on the autodesk app store.
What Material Did I use to 3D Print Gears?
The material I chose for my Raptor II project was PolyMax Polycarbonate. After experimenting for weeks with PLA and PETG I couldn't find a material that met my torque requirements. After communicating with PolyMaker, they sent me a batch of their PolyMax Polycarbonate to experiment with.
How Feasible is 3D printing Gears?
With the correct tools and materials, you can easily 3D print a gearbox or gear system that is functional and reliable. Whether you're just starting out or looking to improve your existing designs, the options for 3D printing gears are endless. In addition to the advice that I provide in this post, don't hesitate to experiment with different materials like Polymaker's most recent addition, ‘PolyMaker PolyMide’. If you find ways that I can improve my own designs, please let me know in the comments section below.
Check out Raptor II in action:
Thanks for Reading!
As always, thank you for reading. I hope you learned something. Be sure to subcribe to my YouTube channel for more great tutorials and CNC related content.
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