28-Geared Cube - Fully Assembled

by Maundy
  • White

    White nylon plastic with a matte finish and slight grainy feel.

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Here is a design for all you fans of all things mechanical!!!

This is a steampunk themed desk toy consisting of a cube with 28 gears, all of which rotate in a mesmorising pattern by just rotating one of the gears. In the middle of the cube is a tray that can be used to hold paperclips and other small things. This object is 3D printed in one go, already fully assembled when it leaves the 3D printer!

The design also comes with a stand so it can stand up on a desk and a lockable lid which is placed on the top of the cube and is locked and unlocked by rotating the gears (the lid locks at the centers of all 4 sides below the gears in the lid). Interchangeable mechanical add-ons may be designed in the future that can be put in place of this lid and driven by the rest of the cogs.

How it works...
This design consists of a cube with 28 gears, on each of 4 sides of the cube are 7 gears: 2 large outer ones that move in opposite directions, the outermost gear has handles on it so it can be easily rotated, the motion between the 2 large cogs is reversed due to 5 smaller gears set within the cube in a similar layout to a planetary gearbox to reverse the gear's direction on each of these 4 faces. Each of these sets of gears on the 4 faces are all linked through the big gear on each of the 4 faces meshing at 90 degrees with the big gear on each of the 2 neighboring sides. This means that if any one gear is spun, they all spin in a memorizing pattern.

For a smoother motion of the Geared Cube use a lubricant suitable for plastic parts, I used a PTFE (also known as Teflon) lubricant from an aerosol can and this was very effective in reducing the friction.


IN: 4.454 w x 4.454 d x 3.804 h
CM: 11.314 w x 11.314 d x 9.662 h


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Awesome design! I just ordered one for UK shipping. Would it be possible to add some custom text on the design (get your brain in gear bro, happy birthday!)?
February 27, 2014, 3:02 pm
@lkaelbling That's great!!! Don't forget you can use a PTFE lubricant to get it turning even more smoothly.
December 22, 2013, 9:17 am
@Maundy Shapeways very kindly sent me a new one, and it's great! It all turns very nicely.
December 22, 2013, 1:07 am
@Maundy: I'll follow up with customer service.
December 9, 2013, 3:03 pm
@lkaelbling Hmm... I don't understand why my cube turns and yours does not turn, it is the same file being printed on the same printers, as mentioned in the comments before this must be caused by excess powder from the printing process being stuck between the moving parts and this should have been removed by Shapeways before shipping, if you cannot free it up yourself using compressed air (in the gaps between the axles and surrounding gears) please contact service@Shapeways.com, you could also try adding lubricant (I used a PTFE (Teflon) oil) however I don't believe this will help much if there is no movement at all.
December 9, 2013, 2:48 pm
I purchased one and it just arrived and it, too, seems to be completely stuck. I'm afraid to apply any force to it. I wanted to give it as a gift, but I guess I should try applying lubricant to it first. Can you be more specific about what kind? Or, is it the case that if it doesn't seem to even move at all, that lubricant won't help?
December 9, 2013, 2:28 am
November 30, 2013, 12:45 am
@Maundy Soory to reply so late, but thank oyu for the explanation-information! If-when I ever get around to do such a project myself, I´ll know what I can run into!
November 24, 2013, 9:17 pm
@Maundy Shapeways reached me and I'm waiting for and wondering what would be their final action! Thanks for your concern again!
October 14, 2013, 1:32 am
@imlimws Have you fixed the issue yet? Have Shapeways responded/helped?
October 12, 2013, 8:23 am
Maundy,thanks for our concern! I'll contact Shapeways directly on this issue.
October 5, 2013, 1:10 am
@imlimws Here is an idea of my own, if you put the cube in the oven for an hour at a temperature of less than 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit) (the material is heatproof to 80C/176F) this may cause the plastic to soften and expand hopefully making bigger gaps between moving parts allowing the powder to be removed more easily.
October 4, 2013, 3:49 pm
@imlimws Sorry that it doesn't work, that is surprising though, this is the first one that I've sold that this has happened to, you can see in the video how it is meant to work. You are correct that I am just the designer and I have nothing to do with the printing process, this was down to Shapeways and this does still sound like the powder material is stuck between the axels and the gears, this should have been correctly cleaned out before shipping, it must have been overlooked. Shapeways has excellent customer service and if you contact them with this issue, I'm sure they will give you a free re-print or refund if you request it, first off though I would contact them and see if they have any tips or advice on how to free up the mechanism as they are the ones that know how to do it and managed to do it well for mine and many others cubes.
October 4, 2013, 3:41 pm
The gears don't move at all. They are stuck without any tolerance. To remove powder residue I already blasted compressed air into the hinges and tried to free each gears with my fingers and a small tool. But it failed! By the way, you, Maundy, are a just a designer of the cube and the Shapeways is the one who actually printed this cube and sold to me, right? If my cube does not move with all efforts eventually,I'd like to refund it. I hope somebody in charge give me an answer.
October 4, 2013, 10:47 am
@imlimws Hmmm, that's weird... Do they move at all? If they do, put a lot of PTFE (Teflon) or equivalent lubricant on it as this will make the motion a lot smoother. If the gears do not move at all this will be due to with powder used in the 3d printing process being stuck in the hinges, in this case the only way to remove it is to either blast air into the hinges (this method is used at Shapeways) and/or just try and free up each gear individually using your fingers or a small tool. If all else failes, you can contact Shapeways and explain the issue and they should be able to sort it out for you.
October 4, 2013, 6:58 am
I got the cube for my daughter. It is good actually. But unfortunately the gears of my cube do not move. Is there any action to do for me? I'd like to give this cube in motion to my daughter as she is expecting.
October 4, 2013, 5:19 am
@imlimws Here you go, please cancel the previous order and order this one instead: http://shpws.me/pjM2 As requested, the text 'For Hye-su!' is embosed on the stand and inside the cube itself.
September 26, 2013, 2:24 pm
@imlimws Thanks a lot!!! If you want this message on the cube, please cancel the current order and I will make a new 3D file with the message on the cube, once this is done I will give you the link for this new geared cube with this message on which you can then order instead.
September 26, 2013, 1:34 pm
I ordered your this cube just before. Could you please make a letter somewhere on my cube, "For Hye-su!"? She is my daugther who has a big interest in 3D printing.
September 26, 2013, 10:39 am
It's really awesome. Great work! Is it designed to be taken apart into 28 gears? If not, is it possible to design in that way? This is always the first question when I see some complicated mechanical parts.
September 26, 2013, 10:06 am
@zhourj Thank You!!! There was no blueprint or anything like this design that already existed, every single part of the design was designed and created by myself, there was no similar designs to copy out there. The idea was created for myself for no other reason than I wanted to create something as mechanically complicated as possible that could be 3D printed and would really confuse you as to what is going on and would look really cool on my desk and this is what I came up with. :) Yes, it did take a long time to design and was very challenging, creating the gears and their teeth in such a way that they would mesh but also be printable and in a ratio to other gears to make sure it would actually work was very difficult, what helped this process a lot was being able to animate the assembly in AutoDesk Inventor (my CAD software) which allowed myself to visualise better whether the design would work once printed as you can see in this YouTube animation created in the CAD software: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTTf2ewwfH0 The design was designed and improved upon over roughly a week or two including tweaking the shape of the gear teeth by tenths of a millimetre before I felt confident enough to order it with there being a high chance it would work (as I didn't want to have to tweak the design and pay to 3D print another) and thankfully it worked. :)
August 11, 2013, 3:39 pm
Hi, this is really great work. Where did you get the idea or blueprint? it must be hard to work out all the details in the software. How long did it take you?
August 10, 2013, 6:45 pm
@MacD Thanks, I'm glad you like it!!! :) As for the questions, I tried to keep the distance between the moving parts at 0.5mm however where the teeth meshed this occasionally dropped to 0.35mm but still printed without any problems however this unavoidable clearance does cause some backlash in the gears, I'm not sure how many faces the axels ended up having as these would have been generated when saving as an .stl file, the gears have a hole in the centre that an axel runs through which is anchored to the main body. As this luckily succeeded with the first print I did not run into any other design difficulties however I did have to lubricate it however this is a material and manufacturing limitation, not design limitation.
June 6, 2013, 3:07 pm
A beautiful machine, getting nicer and nicer as you work on it :) I do have some things I'd love to know. Like what kind of tolerances did you use? How many faces for circular axles (if there are any instead of the gears being in "sleeves", as it were) and what kind of distances did you use between the gear teeth of different gears when you sent the design for print? What kind of other design difficulties did you encounter?
June 3, 2013, 11:18 pm
I'm throwing money at the screen and nothing is happening!
April 11, 2013, 3:06 pm


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