Understand 1,700 Mechanical Linkages with these Helpful Animations

Ronald Jaramillo

Ronald Jaramillo is a Software developer and tinkerer with a lifelong fascination for automata and robots. He shares his excursions into robotics at www.burningservos.com. You can find him on Twitter @RonaldXJT

81 Articles

By Ronald Jaramillo

Ronald Jaramillo is a Software developer and tinkerer with a lifelong fascination for automata and robots. He shares his excursions into robotics at www.burningservos.com. You can find him on Twitter @RonaldXJT

81 Articles

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Mr. Đức thắng Nguyễn (Duc Thang Nguyen) is an engineer from Vietnam. Since his retirement in 2002, he has being working on an amazing animated 3D catalog of mechanical contraptions.

Using Autodesk Inventor as a tool, he has documented over 1,700 mechanisms. All from gears, couplings, clutches, differentials to detailed examples of movement conversions. For every mechanism Nguyen has generated a corresponding animated YouTube video. These videos are an invaluable source to understand some of the more convoluted and challenging mechanisms. The video-clips portray a mesmerizing collection of kinetics sculptures on their own and can be enjoyed for their sheer aesthetic value.

Through a file-sharing website, Nguyen generously provides an overview of all his contraptions nicely organized into mechanical themes. The PDF files include pictures, short descriptions, and direct links to the videos. I strongly encourage you to visit Nguyen’s YouTube Channel and spend some time studying his work. You will find a treasure trove of ingenious solutions to a wide range of real life mechanical applications. If you own a 3D printer and want to improve your CAD skills, pick a compelling mechanism. Model and print it.

There are so many to pick from, but here are 10 of my personal favourites:


Linkage for tracing a parallelogram


Persian joint


Application of rack pinion mechanism


Planetary clutch


Door for limited space


Keeping direction unchanged during rotation


Archimedean drive


Friction cone variator


Internal Geneva mechanism


Converting interrupted rotation to continuous rotation