Yes, I finally did it.
It took a while.
It wasn’t really what you’d call easy. Or whatever the opposite of ‘frustrating’ is.
What, you ask, is this? This, faithful reader, is a spur gear.
It’s not the gear itself that I was happy with (though it was generated via a pretty cool script that can generate all sorts of gears) but the way it was printed.
For one, cool but not high (er.. low) score, is that it was printed (yes, printed) on a MakerBot Cupcake CNC. If you haven’t heard of this thing, it’s a 3D printer. It’s a box that sits here on my desk at home. I feed plastic in, point it at a 3D image file and real, actual, physical stuff comes out. There are vids at the MakerBot site and all over youtube that explain it better but picture a 4×4 inch table that moves on X and Y (left/right and forward/back) with a “plastruder” that sits above the table moving on Z (up/down). The plastic gets pulled into the top of the plastruder, gets heated up to the melting point (220C) then gets pushed out of a little nozzle at the bottom, right above the table moving on X & Y.
Give this hardware some clever software control and, layer by layer, it “prints” your object for you in plastic. Two thumbs up.
Anyway, the cool bit is that each layer on this spur gear are only 0.10mm tall – that’s 254 layers for every inch! This is, as far as I know, a resolution record for stuff being printed on a MakerBot – previously, Rick Pollack over at makergear.com (great folks, BTW) had the resolution record at 0.15mm.
I know you’re itching for more pictures so here’s another one, a crop of part of the gear being held by calipers…
The sad part is that now I don’t know what to do. Maybe I’ll blog some about printing stuff at this resolution. Or something.