There are a lot of questions we can ask when contemplating the possibilities of 3D printing. Can we 3d print a giant mechanical panther suit that enhances our agility? Will we be able to 3d print small mechanical panther suits to fit on squirrels for tournament squirrel battles? Pretty much anything having to do with 3d printed panther suits is a quandary. Perhaps something more practical would be this question. How many mechanical elements can we 3d print using the FDM process in an assembled state? Are the gears turning yet? Because they’re about to be, quite literally. Danny Tasmakis turned that question into reality with a working, 3d printed, fully-assembled, old-school, way cool, windup clockwork motor featuring four gears, a ratchet element with thumb wheel and a spiral spring.

Print, Wash, Repeat

Danny has a lot of experience in designing plastic products, complex plastic injection molds, jigs, fixtures and know his way around 3d printers quite well. After contemplating how many mechanical elements could be printed, he fired up MoI, modeled the Windup Clockwork motor you see below, then printed it on a Stratasys Mojo 3d printer using ABS plastic. This home project of his had two goals 1) prove an assembled mechanism could be printed and 2) take it to the next level.

Firstly, I wanted to prove the concept and see if it was possible to print the whole assembly in one go; body, gears, spring and ratchet then having it work straight from the wash. The Mojo comes with a washing station called the Wavewash 55 support cleaning system. It just took one print to get to know the accuracy of the printer with success on the second print.

Now that I have the 3d printed motor that can be reproduced an infinite number of times, it can be used as a plugin windup motor for other 3d printed gadgets. There is one mechanism I want to try and am working on when I can that is similar to Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest which I find cool and creepy all at the same time.

The video he put together shows the entire process, including details of the mechanism, the 3d print and wash cycle, and the motor in motion. There’s more to come with this project as well. In a future post, we’ll have part two, where Danny prints a mechanism and attaches it to the windup motor to take it all to the next level and make us want a mojo printer to print those panther suits. If you’re interested in getting your hands on the files and printing one up yourself, you can contact Danny through his GrabCAD profile.

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Author

Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.