Henry Segerman designed this triple gear construct and printed it at Shapeways.

If you take three ordinary gears and put them together so that each gear meshes with the other two, then none of the gears can turn because neighbouring gears must turn in opposite directions. Triple gear avoids this problem by having the three “gears” arranged like linked rings – the gears then rotate along skew axes, and the opposite direction rule no longer applies

[via Shapeways]

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John Baichtal

John Baichtal

My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal nerdage.net

  • http://trkemp.wordpress.com trkemp

    This is really cool and I’m sure it would be a great desk toy. It would be even better with a motorized stand to make it turn continuously.

    • James

      Perhaps a vertical threaded rod (with three helixes?) that it could ‘climb’ down. It would keep the rings in compression against each other too. Alternately a fourth ring…!

  • http://www.segerman.org Henry Segerman

    Hi, this is Henry Segerman. Thanks for posting about the Triple gear! I just put up a smaller, less expensive version at http://shpws.me/mX9t

    trkemp: Yes, we’ve thought about how to do a motorised stand. Possibly with a geared central axis to power it, and/or some sort of shaped base for it to sit in to stop it just rotating as a whole.

  • carl

    from some angles it looks like a continuous piece, not three separate gears…. if you printed it in a flexible material could you make a one piece continuous gear? I did a quick sketch to visualise it but dont have a 3d printer to test…

    • http://www.segerman.org Henry Segerman

      Google “Möbius Gear” for a few related projects using a flexible material as a gear. It seems like it should in principle be possible to make a gearing trefoil knot, but getting it to actually work sounds very difficult. I think the flexibility properties of the material would be really delicately involved.