Nautilus Gears

by MishaT, published

Nautilus Gears by MishaT Jul 24, 2012

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Nautilus Gears by MishaT is licensed under the Creative Commons - Attribution license.

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Nautilus gears based on logarithmic spirals. The gear profiles were generated using this Maple script for which full credit goes to the original author:

Rendered animation of the gears: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtkEyZwuwH4

Don't own a 3D printer? Now available for purchase at Shapeways (http://shpws.me/Kdit) The design will always stay free and open. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTMVMf_3fCw

I'm not going to upload the SolidWorks file because it is frankly a mess of different experimentation, but I uploaded the DXF which should be easy enough to modify with most CAD software.

Update: No more breaking pins!

I've replaced the pins with a simple press fit design. Print two of the Connector Bar v2 or the Curved Connector Bar v2 (same idea, just curved for aesthetics) and snap them together! On a well calibrated printer they should snap together easily and hold tightly with friction.

If they aren't sticking together just add a drop of glue! Warning, these bars are one time use, they will be very hard to pull apart without breaking the pin.

I will keep the original bars on for reference.


Print two gears and two connector bars.

Place the gears onto a connector bar, make sure the gears align as in the pictures, snap in the second bar and enjoy.

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Just printed this NAUTILUS GEAR model on my Monoprice Maker Ultimate! Check out my time lapse video of the print:


Thanks for a great model MishaT!

this is cool dude. Wya to go in the gear. It is so cool dude, way to go, i like the gear it is cool

I have made quite a few of these on a Kossel XL with great results, and have given most away to amazed friends. Thanks for a lovely design. I have modelled the behaviour, and I think it would be possible to put 6 at the corners of a hexagon, but hey would need a different angle (exponential co-efficient) to mesh correctly. I think I may be able to build this in OpenSCAD, but is there any chance of you sharing how you designed the teeth and made them follow the curve, beyond your reply to Alex-3d on 2014-05-13. Thank you.

This page should have everything you would need to generate the tooth profile: https://www.maplesoft.com/applications/view.aspx?SID=95483&view=html&L=G

Thanks for the speedy and helpful reply. This page looks really good. If I manage to get it all to work I will post a 'remix'.

For those having issues with the bars just go to my remix. I made the holes bigger.

No go with PLA, the center pins just break off when you try to fit the gears on.

Ok, printing one piece at a time with 50% infill seems to be working. Got one gear and one crossbar yesterday. Have to wait for coworker to leave to do the rest - the smell of the hot plastic really bugs her.

I printed one, but the registration shifted twice. There was a LOT of judder printing the teeth. Maybe I used too little infill and it shook the print heard out of position?? I'll try again at 50%.

thanks, everyone I've shown loves it. Kept my 2yr old nephew quiet on a 2hr drive so I let him keep mine. I'll make another :)

Love it. Had an issue in assembly since I had a low fill percentage. Recommend 50%+. Also a lot of sanding to get the pins to fit perfect but it works good now!

Can somebody tell "list" me the build sheet specks you used to make this?
I am having problems making the connector links or beams turn out.
Either the pins turn out good, or the base is all stringy and not connected.
I am using replicatorG...
Is there a website that lists what switch does what like they do for the G & M commands.
Thank you
Dave J.

Like the others, I found the V2 design pins to be oversized for the holes. Easy enough to drill out the matching hole though.

As others have observed, in the v2 of the design the pin is far too big for the hole. Not just a bit bigger, the diameter of the pin is like 25% larger than it should be. OTherwise nice design.

This is so fascinating -- one of my favorite gears/desktop toys! Printed perfectly on my Dremel 3D Idea Builder, but had to reduce the size of the pegs before they would fit into the corresponding holes (I just lightly sanded the width of the pegs about 20-25%). Here are the Simplify3D settings I used: 0.3mm layer, 3 top solid layers, 3 bottom solid layers, 2 shells, 60mm/sec speed.

This thihttp://thingiverse-production-new.s3.amazonaws.com/renders/64/2e/99/45/38/Nautilus_Gear_preview_featured.jpgng is INSANELY awesome! I printed 3 of these and showed it to all my friends, they were all amazed by this art.

Good fun design, Printed in white and black, smooth running, fit well, thx !

How did you generate the teeth?
I understand how to make the logarithmic spiral, but I can't for the life of me guess how the teeth are made.

Excellent thanks! I'm working with a school ramping up a STEM lab and this was a great example as one of our initial prints. I'll need to glue the brackets/pin-holes which is fine considering this is kinetic and multi-piece system. worked well: I'm very new to this, but here's the overall settings I remember: .2mm on MB Replicator 5th gen (pla). Overall standard settings all around. No scaling, just positioned pieced along build table. Print time: ~2h30.

How long did it take?? I love it

Good ... How long did it take you to do this?

Not too long, the gear curve was generated mathematically and I traced a real nautilus cross section for the ribs.

I also made one and the pin holes don't seem to have any margin, so they don't quite fit until you enlarge the holes. I have my printer calibrated so that the parts fit, but this model seems to be giving me problems. I'm using ABS, which may be the cause if this model was made in PLA. Can the uploader, or someone, upload one with slightly larger holes?

I just made this...two issues: the pins on the new pieces broke off almost immediately, and the second tooth in (from the "flat") tends to bind a bit. I drill and put screws in place of the pins, and then used a file on the teeth that were problematic. It moves much nicer now.

Printed on Prusa i3, slic3r 0.9.10b at 0.7 scale. The holes both in the gears and in the bars came out smaller than the respective counterparts, so I had to adjust them with a knife. Also, two of the teeth were not well connected together - I guess next time I should use the "randomize the starting point" option in order to avoid that weak seam.

I have not had much luck scaling them down. As is it prints only two lines thick at some points.

Mine had (if I remember correctly) the ribs from only one line. But it is not a problem - the gears are stiff enough. My only problem was with the hole (versus pin) dimension.

Has anyone printed this on the Replicator 2x? I have been getting gaps on the spokes, what settings did you use? Thanks!

I've had the same problem. It's from the fact that the slicer can only do so many shells in a small feature. Try making your own custom profile and editing the advanced settings withing the file.

i often get the "spokes" printing partially. I've attributed to first layer issues, but it doesn't seem to draw them on subsequent layers either. it seems to short-circuit drawing the larger spokes. anyone else seeing that?

As said by MishaT - I scaled up to 120% and used Slic3r 0.9.8 (Perimeters set to 1) and had fairly good results.

The best solution I've found to this is just to size up the gears a bit to make the math easier for slic3r.

I am seeing the same thing with the latest update of Slic3r (0.9.2), it draws the spokes piecemeal which is giving me some problems.

I have the same issue. I suspect it's an issue with slic3r, and I'm not going to worry too much about it because it's still in development. Note that the pictures of successful prints show that the spokes are at least two extrusions wide. Right now Slic3r is trying to print mine one wide, which is apparently not enough, although in theory if I had my machine dialed in it would be ok. Either way, adjust your software settings until the software makes the spokes 2 wide.

Slic3r 0.97 still has the same problem.. I just did it in slic3r 0.72b and it worked perfectly


I like this very much and can't wait until my printer is coming.



This is awesome. I can't put mine down: it is too much fun to play with.

Great print! Mine runs endlessly if I hold it vertically. No problems with posts breaking but they won't hold the top bar in place so it keeps falling off. I'll probably "weld" it in place with the hot end after my next print.

It was a success at the office 8-)

For fun I had a closer look at one of the cogs in my microscope, this is what it looks like :)

It worked fine! Now the bar won't fall off, back to the office shelf with it :)

I love bringing these cool prints to work, the best part is that if someone likes it or if it breaks I can make more of them!

20% infill and 1 extra shell with ABS, the posts snapped off one side when installing the gear. Otherwise it is a nice print, I will have to check a few things and try again.

I printed the gears and bars sucessfully. Made a smallm axle for one gear and connected it to a small geared motor and two 1.5 volt batteries. it runs for hours. I posted a video on youtube but it was my first post so I am not sure if it will appear.

Try the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaMZx-Xql7Yhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Do you have .stl files for your nautilus gear box you fitted with a motor and two batteries? I like your design!

That's awesome!

I had similar problems with the posts breaking. I ended up printing the lower bar rotated 90
° so the posts are horizontal. You get the same flexibility and a lot more strength. It just doesn't look as nice since you need full support.

When I have more time I will re-work the connecting bars, one thing to check though is the version of Slic3r if you are using it. The current version 0.8.4 has a bug that makes the pins larger and holes smaller which makes the parts much harder to snap together.

Do these gears lock up at full rotation, or do they turn endlessly?

Theoretically they turn endlessly, but the pressure angle is a bit weird on the last tooth. Mine are a little sticky at the end, but turn through.

I printed this, but the posts snapped off before I could get it off the build plate


What material did you print in? The posts on the bottom bar broke off for me when I printed in PLA, but held together when i printed in ABS. Abs is much more flexible.

I print in PLA.

How were you printing it? What failed and how?

Awesome print! Your quality is really good, I can't wait to print one of these for my 'demo' box :) :-D

I just had to print this when I saw it - really cool design. I want to think of an application for the weird gear ratios, but for now it's a cool desk object.

I think the gears are a little too weird to be practical, but they are fun to play with.

Can you at least upload IGES or STEP files of the parts? The gear is easy to make from the DXF, but editing an STL to change the bars is a pain. I'd still prefer solidworks files even if they are a mess, but IGES or STEP would at least be better than STL.

Awesome design!

Awesome! I always encourage people to upload 3 files for a thing:

Source files,
Portable files (IGES or STEP)
and of course STL files.

Just makes collaborating so much easier if people can choose from those 3 options based on what works best for them!

I'll upload the Solidworks files for the bars, those are a little neater.

A beautiful and cool demo object!

I like the intimate combination of completely unnatural human invention (evolvent tooth) with the logarithimic spiral ubiquitous in nature.

It converts constant angular velocity into an exponential sawtooth if I'm not mistaken.

Very nice! I want to print one!