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Dividing Head

by Rimesy, published

Dividing Head by Rimesy Feb 28, 2016

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Inventor Fusion 360


Dividing Head by Rimesy is licensed under the Creative Commons - Attribution license.

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21960Views 3254Downloads Found in Engineering


This model of a dividing head is build out of a combination of primitive shapes and gears. Created using Inventor and Fusion 360 by Autodesk. It can simply be printed off and used as a class room aid (as my tutor requested) or as a basis for a classroom project. Such projects could be the design and build of their own dividing head/ any other applicable machine/gear box the tutor deems worthy/ or of one component of a assembly (with all the components from each team being constructed into the working model at the end).

The reason for picking a dividing head is it’s a very niche item in the work shop. Many people not knowing about or knowing how to use one. In my current course knowing about a dividing head is part of the syllabus however to properly show the class, the class has to go down to the work shop and the dividing head be set up. With the tutor then trying to explain it as best he can (it’s a large metal object with no way of seeing the inner workings). Using my aid the class can remain in the class room, be shown a simplified version and even pass it around and have a go. Thus developing a better understanding. And if any questions arrive the tutor and quickly and easily explain with the aid of the model.

Print Settings

Printer Brand:



Prusa i3






As this is a prototype and a work in progress the design may change.

The shafts and associated nut and bevel spacer were printed at full scale.
The case, gears, hole plate, pin, selector and spacer were printed at 0.5 scale.

This was due to my inexperience with the CAD software initially. Towards the end of the project I was much more familiar with the software however with the time constraints I was unable to re-dimension them in time. So although a working prototype has been created from the provided STL files. They serve more of an example project than a finished version.

How I Designed This

In this section I’ll explain the design and thought process that went into the model. I began by researching dividing heads, looking at numerous pictures and drawings, to work out the best way to go about the task of showing how a dividing head works. Not only did I need to show how it worked but also how I could convey it in a simple user friendly way.

I broke it down in to pieces, figuring what parts were absolutely crucial. And decided I need to have a worm and worm wheel at a 1:40 ratio as a top priority. I then set about working out how I could design such a gear set. I decided on using Inventor in the end as it had a script that would generate the gears for me. Using this script I just plugged in the necessary values to give me the required ratio. I then imported this into fusion 360.

Worm gears designed in Inventor

After the worm and worm wheel I then needed a way to ‘drive’ the gear set. I decided to use a straight shaft initially however after printing off one of the prototypes I decided that this design wouldn’t be very ergonomic due to the hole-plate having to be attached to the end of the shaft. From here I decided to add a 45° flat to the case so that the hole-plate and crank would be at a 45° angle this made it much more ergonomic but because of this I now needed a way of driving the shaft and decided on the use of a set of bevel gears. I again went back into Inventor and used the same script to construct a set of bevel gears and then imported then into Fusion 360.

Bevel gears designed in Inventor

After this I just needed to print off a hole-plate and the associated selector arm. I used a 49 hole hole-plate as this allows for a wide range of angles to be selected.
If I were to develop this further as a teaching aid I’d add different colours for the gear sets (worm and Wheel coloured blue and the bevel gears red, for example) and possibly look into constructing a clear case for it so that it’s more durable and better presented.

Overall design in Fusion 360

Project: Design and build a working dividing head


• Research how a dividing head works.
• Use CAD software to build their designs.
• Prototype said designs and tweak if necessary.
• Have a working dividing head model and the associated knowledge.


• Any one of college age (16+) that is taking a course in mechanical engineering or similar field.


• Students will need access to computers with a form of CAD software.
• No design experience is needed but familiarity with CAD software would be advantageous.
• The tutor should be experienced in the CAD software so to avoid design problems/ limitations.
• Students should work in small groups so that they can collaborate on the design and this also helps build team work.

Step 1: Research

Students should use available resources (internet, library etc.) in order to gather knowledge and information on the mechanics and construction of a dividing head. If this project is for another subject you may want to change the assembly you'd like constructed.

• Dividing head for engineering
• Gear box for a car mechanic course

Step 2: Design phase

This is where the students will begin constructing there initial designs using the available CAD software. The tutor can aid them with any issues, however try to allow them to make their own mistakes (within reason). This will teach them the value of prototyping.

Step 3: Prototype

The students will turn their initial designs into actually solid models. Here they can construct the dividing head and any issues can be noted down and feedback giving for the redesign/ tweaking stage. As we are using 3D printing the turn around from design to manufacture and back again is relatively small, this wouldn't have been possible without this technology.

Step 4: Tweak model design regarding notes from prototype phase

This is the phase where students 'iron out' any issues with their initial designs. They can use this to get a component which doesn't currently work to work, or just to refine there design.

Step 5: Finished model and review

This is the finished product. They should have a full working model of a dividing head. Which has gone through research, design, prototype and tweaking. Each group of students should be encouraged to look at and use each other groups model. Leaving feedback with each model. The students could then vote on which they thought best conveyed how a dividing head works.


At the end of this project each team of students should have the following:
• Research regarding a dividing head and notes they took during this phase.
• An initial design.
• Notes from the prototyping phase (what worked, what didn’t, how they solved any issues).
• A working 3D printed model.

As this is a prototype and a work in progress the design may change.

The shafts and associated nut and bevel spacer were printed at full scale.
The case, gears, hole plate, pin, selector and spacer were printed at 0.5 scale.

This was due to my inexperience with the CAD software initially. Towards the end of the project I was much more familiar with the software however with the time constraints I was unable to re-dimension them in time. So although a working prototype has been created from the provided STL files. They serve more of an example project than a finished version.

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For those like me that have no idea what this is for, wikipedia says :

An indexing head, also known as a dividing head or spiral head,[1] is a specialized tool that allows a workpiece to be circularly indexed; that is, easily and precisely rotated to preset angles or circular divisions. Indexing heads are usually used on the tables of milling machines, but may be used on many other machine tools including drill presses, grinders, and boring machines. Common jobs for a dividing head include machining the flutes of a milling cutter, cutting the teeth of a gear, milling curved slots, or drilling a bolt hole circle around the circumference of a part.[2]

The tool is similar to a rotary table except that it is designed to be tilted as well as rotated and often allows positive locking at finer gradations of rotation, including through differential indexing. Most adjustable designs allow the head to be tilted from 10° below horizontal to 90° vertical, at which point the head is parallel with the machine table.

The workpiece is held in the indexing head in the same manner as a metalworking lathe. This is most commonly a chuck but can include a collet fitted directly into the spindle on the indexing head, faceplate, or between centers. If the part is long then it may be supported with the help of an accompanying tailstock.

Hmmm, why didn't you just tilt the axle of the worm gear through 45 degrees? the index plate could just fasten to the end of it and you would have saved some components? 2 gears and a small stub axle would not be required and the whole thing would be simpler.

Just curious to see if you had a reason for doing it this way, good effort though.

Yeah in hindsight that would have been a simple solution. This was my first attempt at designing a dividing head and I also had to learn the cad software whilst doing so. I also joined the challenge late so it was all a bit rush rush. If I were to revisit/ redesign this that may very well be the way I go. You could call this a first prototype. And hey that's one of the many good uses of a 3D printer :)

For a first attempt mate you did really well, I guess when you think about it we are all still learning.
All part of the joys of 3D printing.
Keep up the good work.

Yes I am certainly still learning!!! I find its a lot of trial and error more so than being able to refer to a guide or reference material

I had an idea how this works, but found this video for anyone who doesn't understand. Nice, I think I need to print one of these. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRA6d0fPqgI

Comments deleted.

Thanks a lot but please bare in mind this was as a teaching aid more so than a practical piece of machinery. As stated its a work in progress and would need finishing to do real world work. If there's enough interest I may redesign or revisit this as I've had time to get to learn both the cad better and my printer. I've also learnt from the many mistakes etc I made during this project.

Whats the point of the spur gear on the worm? I won't turn the worm. Nor does it interact with bevel-gear/dividing head.

There isn't a spur gear present. Its a worm and wheel. The worm turns the worm wheel which in turn turns the spindle.