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Richard Kline writes:

Non circular gears are strange. When the topic of square gear trains appears in casual conversation, people tend to think a joke is being made, that it is ‘impossible’ to make a square gear that actually meshes properly. After being drawn into a vicious debate with a co-worker about the existence and plausibility of such gears, I realized I had no choice but to resort to an actual demonstration to sway his view. In the not-too distant past this would have been a virtual impossibility, at the very least I would have had to spend an indeterminate amount of time hunched over a scroll saw, trying to cut splintery wooden gear prototypes by hand. Fortunately, this is the pushbutton world of 2009, a Google search turns up dozens of laser/waterjet cutting services and MakerBots are squeezing out ABS plastic Darth Vader helmets in every good nerd’s house this Christmas. And thus, a project was born…

Gears Squared