Laser Cut Planetary Gear (Win a…)

Sun, 12 Jan 2014

Win this Planetary Gear here!

Also on instructables.com

This tactile and delightful looking mechanism is a planetary gear. So named for the four planet gears orbiting the central sun gear. I’ve put this project together as part of my learning-to-use-a-laser-cutter experiments.

If you would like to give it a try all the instructions and files are below. There is also a chance to win one of these mechanical marvels at the end of this post.

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The parts are all laid out in a pdf file and then transfered to the Laser Cutter software. I’ve made the file available to download for free here. I’ve left it as a pdf file as, if you have, or have access to, a laser cutter then you will know how best to convert it for your machine.


Even if you don’t have your own laser cutter you may well be able to find one that you can use in your local area, perhaps in a FabLab or a Hacker Space. These type of resources are popping up all over the place so it is well worth checking to see if there is one in your area.

I’ve cut the parts out from 3mm acrylic sheet. (Perspex) I also used a length of 6mm diameter acrylic rod to hold everything together. There is no glue in this model. All the circular holes in the model should be a tight fit. It might be worth shrinking down the size of the circular holes to 5.6mm. Try cutting one circular hole and making sure that it is a tight fit with the perspex rod before you cut out all your parts.


Cut five 9mm long lengths from the 6mm rod. I’ve used a junior hacksaw. There must be a better way! Let me know if you know of a proper tool for the job.


Here are all the parts laid out ready for assembly. I used a different colour of perspex for the planet gears so that they stand out in the finished model.


Fit the five pegs into the five holes of the back plate. A hammer can be handy at this point if the pegs are a really tight fit.

Tap the centre gear onto the centre peg. This gear is fixed, it should not be free to rotate.


Fit the two end caps into place and tap them down.


Drop the large ring gear (the annulus) into place between the two end stops. Space the four planetary gears around the central gear.


Finish off the gear by tapping the top plate into position. Turn the annulus gear and watch the planet gears rotating!

I have a planetary gear mechanism to give away to one lucky subscriber. Either leave a comment below or drop me an email. On 20th Jan I’ll put all the comments/emails into a hat and pick a winner. This competition is open to paid subscribers on robives.com, thank you for subscribing!

Comments (30)

  • DobbyKnits January 12, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    Fingers crossed – I’d love to

    Fingers crossed – I'd love to win this one!

    Happy New Year to you and yours, Rob.

  • Smelter January 12, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    So that’s what you’ve been up
    So that’s what you’ve been up to.
    And there was I thinking you were making the Antikythera mechanism.

  • thejallison January 12, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    That is a great thing.
    That is a great thing.

  • cdecesare January 13, 2014 at 12:08 am

    Very cool – Thanks for

    Very cool – Thanks for sharing!

  • JayHavvic January 13, 2014 at 1:03 am

    Whoa!
    It would be great to

    Whoa!

    It would be great to win this one!

    Here is my try!

     

    Thanks!

  • plane_mc January 13, 2014 at 1:17 am

    Very nice Rob, gears are
    Very nice Rob, gears are fascinating to watch. That laser cutter is going to lead to some very interesting projects.

    • WarriorCatsFTW January 13, 2014 at 3:33 am

      I NEED THIS!
      Too bad I don’t

      I NEED THIS!

      Too bad I don't have a laser cutter though 🙁

  • barbericmom January 13, 2014 at 3:43 am

    I am fascinated with gears.
    I am fascinated with gears. I would love to win your creation.
    Diane

  • Smelter January 13, 2014 at 9:04 am

    A proper tool for the
    A proper tool for the job!
    Tube Cutter 3-22mm

    http://www.screwfix.com/p/rothenberger-minicut-2-pro-tube-cutter-3-22mm/71782

  • davidclough January 13, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Very interesting new venture,
    Very interesting new venture, Rob, it’s a pity that laser cutters aren’t as cheap as scissors. Keep up the good work with your paper modelling though which gives us so much pleasure! The draw’s on the 20th I see – did I mention that that’s my birthday?!

  • Giovanni Medina January 13, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Oh, I hope I win.
    Oh, I hope I win.

    • hugo leandro January 13, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      I love all the models from
      I love all the models from Rob and I’d certainly love this one. I hope I can win it this time. Fingers crossed.

  • cool022883 January 13, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    throw my name in the hat for
    throw my name in the hat for the planetary gear

  • Sioux January 16, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    to cut your acrylic dowel –
    to cut your acrylic dowel – make a wooden jig by cutting a piece of 2×2 into an L shape (take a 90 degree corner of a square end piece of pine)

    use a drill to make a hole in in the upright part of the L – so that you can slide the acrylic dowel through the hole, and have the end running along the cut section of dowel. clamp the jig in a vice, and cut with a coping saw down the front vertical cut face of the jig, onto the horizontal cut edge – rather like you would use a bench hook.

    – email me if you want a picture:)

  • asnowball January 16, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    I can see a new mechanisms
    I can see a new mechanisms project being developed at school for next year – thanks for the idea!

  • [email protected] January 16, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    It is so cool that you are
    It is so cool that you are using a laser printer to cut this. I would love the opportunity to play with that technology!

  • Allan Hess January 16, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    Been a fan for quite awhile.
    Been a fan for quite awhile. Would love to win this.

  • Mike L January 16, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    Awesome! I could see this

    Awesome! I could see this being a really cool business card if you used cardstock and a clear piece of plastic (like a phone screen protector)

  • emmanuel January 17, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    I like this kind of easy
    I like this kind of easy projects. As usual, Rob amazes us with his creation!!

  • hermes January 17, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Very cool !
    Very cool !

    • Anonymous January 17, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      Awesome project!
      Awesome project!

  • bluetreefrog January 17, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    This is way cool, count me
    This is way cool, count me in.

  • jcamenga January 18, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Here, here, I would love this
    Here, here, I would love this gear!
    It would bring great joy to my Planet!

  • Carolyn January 18, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    This is great! I made a
    This is great! I made a Geneva Stop from polymer clay several years ago just by cutting it. The laser cutter is a great improvement.

  • dsur January 20, 2014 at 10:18 am

    If not late I want to
    If not late I want to participate to win this planet gear.

  • ae January 20, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    I’d love to win this!
    I’d love to win this!

  • AzRedShoe April 23, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    I’d love to live on the third
    I’d love to live on the third planet from the sun. I like it hot, just like here in southern Arizona. :o)

  • Anonymous July 18, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    I just tried to cut this on a

    I just tried to cut this on a laser cutter, the gears in the middle are too big, they don't fit. I can't put it together. Is the pdf wrong, or did you have to file the small gears? 

  • Anonymous July 18, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    I just tried to cut this on a

    I just tried to cut this on a laser cutter, the gears in the middle are too big, they don't fit. I can't put it together. Is the pdf wrong, or did you have to file the small gears? 

  • Anonymous July 19, 2015 at 3:44 am

    Yeah pdf has a problem. As I

    Yeah pdf has a problem. As I mentioned I burned this on laser and it didn't work (gears done fit inside). 

    I use inkscape, and I also tried Illustrator – both didn't work. 

     

    When I align the gear in the program and just look at the vectors for example the gears don't even fit in the circular gears teeth (their too big). So you can see there's some issue… perhaps some of the parts were scaled up wrong etc. 

     

    Anways cool project and must have worked for you- perhaps you laser has a huge wide kerf and it made the fit much loser to work…  unless the pdf is borked. 

     

Comments are closed.