Three Cube Gears

by emmett, published

Three Cube Gears by emmett Dec 27, 2013
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This evolution of my Cube Gears incorporates my new snap pin design, which is much easier to insert, snaps more robustly, and prints more reliably. Included are plates for three different gear ratios (the ratios are the numbers in the filenames).

If you need the parts individually, you can export them with Customizer. You can also add custom embossed text to the large gears.

UPDATE: Minor update from pin library. See Instructions for details.


I would recommend snapping the pins into the center block first, then putting the gears on. Sometimes the inside of the hole in the gears is not very strong (if you print with low infill) and the pin can break through if inserted into the gear first.

UPDATE: You shouldn't have to worry about weak pinholes anymore. I updated the pin library and this design to incorporate small slits that fool slicers into creating internal webs for added strength.

You should also apply some grease to the pins (I use white lithium grease, but anything should work), which makes them easier to insert and remove and makes it turn smoothly without squeaking.

Only the pins are interchangeable between the different ratio cubes; they all have different center blocks. The larger gears go on the larger faces of the center blocks. I print these on the MakerWare medium default settings in PLA. Support is not necessary.

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These might be the best gears on here, with the best pins. 0.2 PLA on my Black Widow /w Titan Aero. Came out perfectly, snapped together easily, and with a little silicone lube they move nice and smoothly!

at the tip of the cogs it got screwed up :(

What is the edge length of the cube once it is put together?

May 3, 2017 - Modified May 3, 2017

Made one on my MeCreator 2. 0.2 Layer height, Black PLA @220/55C on blue painters tape.
Had to size it to 90% as my printbed is only 160x160x160. Came out perfect. No trimming. Just worked when put together.
A little squeeking sound in places. But it was not lubricated.
I made the 2-3 ratio version. Will likely make one more and swap some of the gears to make it nicer looking.

The way to turn it / start turning it, is to squeeze middle of 2 opposing sides, Takes less force that grabbing corner gears and try to turn them.

This is a nice fidget toy.

Is it just me or the pin is a bit too long and the gears doesnt sit well on the pin. the pin fits to the core really well. but the gear's hole is kinda shallow. Im trying to print the 1-2 Gear Cube.

Just printed this GEAR CUBE model! Check out my time lapse video of the print:


The pieces are a bit tough to rotate, but overall a great model! Thanks emmett!

which file do I download

The pins work really well, great work!

Do somebody here is able to able to update the scad in order to make the text work with the new version of openscad? I can manage to achieve it.

Thanks, Great design Emmett.
But I need to have the possibility to edit the text upside down? Could you please update the file in order to have that possibility?


how could I imprint my own text in this really cool cube?

Could someone help me out with instructions for this?

Best regards and thanks a lot

Yes you can!
I could possible help. It is super easy.

Thanks emmett!!! This is great! My son and I made this and documented our steps in case it could help others

Three Cube Gears

Looks awesome! Could you please tell me how you printed such a sparse raft? I'm using flash print as my slicer and the rafts are dense and wasteful. Thanks!

how do I customize the text on the cube ?

how do I customize the text on the cube ?

Wonderful thank you

Wonderful thank you

Wonderful thank you

Comments deleted.

I had to shrink the model by 15% as it wouldn't fit my Da Vinci Jr. printing table. However, by doing that the pins don't click into the main body anymore. They just fall out. Is it ok to clue them in? The gears click-in and rotate fine.

Sep 7, 2016 - Modified Sep 7, 2016

Printed on a Prusa i3 MK2. (0.2mm, 15% infill, PLA). I only added a small brim for the pins.

No cleaning, no grease, no slack, snap nicely and rotate effortless: just perfect :)

What is the pin library ?

Can you make an extra pins file

In Scli3r and Cura - and maybe others slicing software - you have a 'split' button that will automatically splits the one big STL into multiple independent STL objects.

May 17, 2016 - Modified May 17, 2016

Just printed one in PETG, 30% infill.
EDIT: 0.25 mm layer thickness.

After minor cosmetic cleanup, everything snapped together and it all rotates smoothly!

EDIT: I didn't use grease, PETG is slippery stuff, and the gears rotate silently without it.

I've tried earlier versions but they kept coming apart. This version stays together and really works well.

I really like this model bit cant figure out how the gears go..big gear to small core surface or visaversa???

hi..stupid question..im printing one out but cant for the life of me figure out how to assemble it lol...is it big pieces on the big core faces or big pieces on the small core faces...or am I wrong all together lol??????

Jan 19, 2017 - Modified Jan 19, 2017
Jvancsik - in reply to swicboi

The big piece snaps to the bottom (touching printbed) side of the core. I did it the other way first time and it was not aligned well.

You should add the individual pieces to download

In cura you can right click and then select 'split item into parts' so you can print the individual pieces.

Printed this for the first time on my Zortax today. Perfect print. minimal post processing, everything snapped together beautifully. A very impressive model. Well Done Emmett.. Top work.

Great design!
Emmet is awesome!

If you don't have a printer but want one, see my Etsy store.

Jan 14, 2016 - Modified Jan 15, 2016

Scaled everything down to .5, and printed on my Wanhao Duplicator I3.
Came out great! :D

EDIT: And it takes a lot less time to print... Took about 1 hour 30 mins total vs I think it was 2 1/2.
EDIT EDIT: This is really a novelty more than anything for actual use. Mine keeps falling apart because the pins are too small D: I might try resizing them a little.
Scaled them up by .2, and so far its working lot better and not falling apart. Oh, and increased the infill to 50%.

thanks mate - will give that a try!

has anyone had problems with the gears slipping and then the cube not working - or is it just because I reduced the size of the print?

FlashForge Creator Pro

Good Job Mate, this piece has become an icon in the 3d printing world!

Mine is printing now yeah. The question was ask but never answered. What is the difference in the three files? Are they different sizes cubes?

Different gear ratios.

Nov 27, 2015 - Modified Nov 27, 2015

my cube needs no grease to work it worked as soon as i snapped it together

Do you also have a .prt or a .sldprt version of this file? Or maybe have a tutorial how to make one from scratch. Because I am a student and I want to make an attemt to eddit this and make my own adaptation of it. However I can not work from a STL. and Im not really making progress with the thingiverse customizer either. Hope to hear from you soon. And hopefully you can help me. GR. Josh

make a tinkercad account and use that to edit it

Sorry, this wasn't made with SolidWorks. I used OpenSCAD, so the original is the .scad file (which is text). OpenSCAD is free and what runs Customizer on the back end. It's a programmatic part description, so it's quite editable once you get the hang of it.

Sorry, I am new to this process but how can I print just the pins? I broke one and I cannot seperate just the pins from the rest of the pieces. Thanks!

Nov 27, 2015 - Modified Nov 27, 2015
bigibomb - in reply to kvrtiska

slic3r can seperate them too

Lots of programs allow you to separate objects, 3D Builder for one. If you can't find a program like that, you can also just download the pins from the snap pins ancestor of this this thing (they have the same dimensions).

take a look at http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:744964 for a printrbot simple, JDancel.

Emmet's Cube Gears (2-3) split into two prints.
Jun 8, 2015 - Modified Jun 8, 2015

Can you make a plate of the 5:6 that fits on the Printrbot simple metal please?

And btw, the pins are much better than the last version. Keep up the good work!

Does anyone have the original files without the small slits for the slicer tweak? The slicer that I am using, CatalystEX is confused by the change and crashes when it tries to process the file. Thanks!

What are the measurements for the 4 separate parts and what did u build it on?

Having trouble getting the gears to stay on the pins when I rotate. I inserted the pins in the center block first. Is there a trick to getting the gears on so they stay and rotate without falling off?

If the pins don't snap on well, it is usually because they aren't printed accurately enough. It might help to check your belt tensions and such. Otherwise you can modify the pins and try changing the fit parameters a little to adjust for what your printer outputs.

For those with small print volumes

Emmet's Cube Gears (2-3) split into two prints.

Is there anywhere I can find individual pieces?

Go to the customizer you can make customized files and just download the indivisual parts you need!

These are awesome and work and assemble perfectly in about 2 mins even after i scaled them down by 10%. Thank you for these incredible designs

Printed the 5-6 in ABS on my R2X. .18 layers sliced with S3D. Came out perfect! Nice pin design.

if youre having trouble getting the pins to stick onto the bed, print them one at a time. It will be troublesome, but it was the only way for me to get the pins printed :)

Hey emmett, is this copyrighted? I would like to use and distribute it.

Emmet released this under the Creative Commons - Attribution - Share Alike license. This information is in the right-hand sidebar for every item on Thingiverse.

See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ for official details, but basically you can use, modify, hack, share and/or sell it, as long as you use the same license with your release, and also include links to emmet's original work.

I've been wondering about this for a while now, thanks!

why are there 3 printing stl files?

Where can I find file of "write.scad" ?

Comments deleted.

I've printed at least 15 of these things so far on my MakerGear M2. The new pins really do make a difference. Although I modified the STL file to round the tips on the corners so it doesn't feel so darn sharp.
General print parameters:
15% infill
2 shells
no brim/ skirt and no support (although it might be useful on the pins, they tend to dislodge during printing)
All other parameters depend on your specific printer and material
Make sure the first layer isn't squished or the interference will make assembly and operation difficult. File down if necessary or simply wear in.
lubrication with Vaseline oil or silicone spray- preferably something that doesn't smell
Gears will become easier to turn after wearing them in.
I like to change the filament color about 50% -75% of the way through the print to give different colored tips. Also multiple prints in different colors and mixing colors.
I wouldn't recommend scaling this down by much on an FDM printer, as the pin walls become too thin to do much good.
I'm not a big fan of the EL insignia, so i modified the model to exclude it and have text on the sides of the big gears.

Does this scale well at all? I've only got a 4in print bed at the moment.

I've had no problems with scaling this up.You should be fine scaling down as long as the walls on the pins don't get too thin.

Hey my printer meet up one one wondering if you could make a replacement part

Thanks for the design Emmet! I made gears 1-2 with ABS 10% infill no brim.
Fitts perfectly!
Good luck to all

I love this design! It's my go-to print when I want to give someone a demonstration piece. I left one at work and turns under its own weight because it's broken in so well from everyone playing with it constantly.

Awesome, this one actually works great! I only noticed that it somewhat deforms as the last layers (corners) are printed with extruder almost always in one spot which overheats previous layers causing some deformation. I wonder if it's better to make corners rounded a bit or just cut them off at a few millimeters. They will stop being cubes though... ;)

Just printed this for the first time and had the same problem, but it doesn't seem to be the case for everybody. I'm wondering if the temp was too high or something.

I printed the 5-6 version, my first cube gear and my first big print on my new Replicator 5. It printed well with rafts and no supports with grey PLA but when I assembled it, the smaller cogs are inset a long way from the larger ones. Did I mess up the assembly? I thought the inner block looked symmetrical.

I love the cube, but could not put it together. The pins fit (very tightly) into the center piece, but not in the gears, plus they break very easily. I printed with an Ultimaker, with copper PLA. What am I doing wrong?

If you scaled the model down, the wall on the pins might be too thin causing them to break easily.

Are you using active cooling?

You mean, is the fan on? Yes.

Ahh, That sucks man that a machine such as a Ultimaker cant print this.

I love these cubes. Great design, Emmet, and thanks for sharing your awesome creations!

I find that a wipe-over with canola oil (rapeseed oil) gets this and many other emmett geared items moving smoothly.
And yes, LucasGelf, these work perfectly in PLA.

Mine turned out great in ABS! My only problem is that the big gears have a large gap between them and the center block once I put on the small gears. I was sure I pressed them on the whole way and then even pushed them to try and close the gap. Other than that, great piece to play with, put on display, or bring to shows to show the awesome capabilities of 3D printing!

Some Vaseline on the pins makes the gears turn surprisingly smooth

So does silicone spray

will these print in pla?

Yes. The creator printed them in PLA.

I love your gear creations, just made a bunch of the hearts for Valentine's Day. I made my first one of these cube gears today. Do you have any instructions on putting the whole thing together? Thanks again for sharing these!

Looks good. But for some reason Repetier Host decided to just stop doing anything 4hrs into my print. So that's fun. I'll try it again sometime.

Happened to me too. This was my first print and I didn't think about turning off the sleep setting on my laptop. It took me a while to figure that out, but it worked fairly well the next time. Just need to dial in my settings.

Hey what are the different files? Whats the difference? maybe include that in the instructions? Thanks!

The numbers are the gear ratios.

Sweet redesign on the pins! Although the default backlash setting of 0.1 for the 18tooth/9tooth is still too tight. I printed one at 100 microns using PLA in the Replicator 2, and it is pretty hard to turn. I greased the whole thing up and made sure each individual cog spun easily and freely. Once I had the whole thing together though, I could really feel the backlash fighting when each tooth was fully engaged.

Hmm, the default backlash is 0.5mm. I agree 0.1 would be a bit tight. Are you sure you didn't change it? Also, if your first layer is too smashed, that can also make it harder to turn.

Alas, I see now it is set to 0.5mm as default. I must have done something on accident to change it to 0.1mm when I opened the customizer.

Great re-design from the first cube gear. I tried to print the first version but had many problems with the pins breaking and not fitting. This version worked perfectly the first try.
Printed in PLA
0.2 mm layer
35% infill
no supports
I put some 3 in 1 oil on a paper towel and rubbed each pin on it before putting it in and it spun smoothly and quietly

Nice and interesting design. Thanks for sharing it.
I used it as a challenge for my newly built up K8200. This is my results:
Employing Kisslicer and a heated bed (50°) I printed it in PLA with 0.2mm layers (11h). The pins are more or less a curse. Screwed up the first and almost the second print (sticking problems). In the end they didn't connect the parts well enough to not fall apart. Seem to be undersized which also might be a slicing problem due to my Kisslicer profile.
After all the design doesn't seem to provide any snapping into the center part. So exact sizing and precise printing seem to be very critical. I got it solved in splitting the parts collection and reprinting just the pins using some scaling.
On review I'd suggest to split up the four parts into separate files and have the joints revised.
="thingiverse-db6e7e2b449fafc55decaa715c08590e:disqus" href="http://disqus.com/thingiverse-db6e7e2b449fafc55decaa715c08590e/owens: scaling is always possible in scaling the whole print.

Hmm, I think you definitely have a problem with either your slicer or your printer. No one else seems to be having this problem, and the pins definitely provide a snap into the center block (by almost a whole extra millimeter). Sometimes loose belts can cause this kind of trouble. You can export any of the parts individually from Customizer.

It was the extruder being loose ...

Playing with the file in OpenSCAD, it looks easy enough to scale the
center and the two gears by changing rf1, but that doesn't appear to
affect the size of the pins, which means you can't really make the cube
much smaller. Am I missing something about the scaling?

Yeah, I didn't design this one to scale because I'm not confident the pins will continue to work as they get thinner. However, you can scale the pins down by reducing their default dimensions, or using input parameters related to rf1. You're welcome to experiment, I just didn't get around to testing it.

Very nice design! We printed a couple geared hearts last week, using a version derived from your original design with pins that work better in PLA, but still aren't easy to insert. These are beautiful, come right off the printer and snap in. BTW, instead of using Customizer we loaded the file in OpenSCAD, with a couple of edits it was very simple to generate individual parts. We find that printing in plates encourages stringing between the pieces and a lot more cleanup, so we prefer to do them one at a time for something like this that ought to look good. We'll post pictures later, when the second cube is finished. . .

How about some plates for those of us with tiny printers? My print bed is only 120x120.

you can do that with the netfabb basic program

Sorry, I can only do so many kinds of plating. Using customizer you can export each part individually, then either print them separately, or plate them as you see fit.

The customizer is such a pain the butt. I think I'll just pass on this one.

Really? I love it. I'd honestly like to know what about it you don't like. I find it much more convenient than a huge list of random STLs. Also, if you'd rather avoid it, I believe Slic3r and perhaps some other programs have the ability to split a plate into separate objects and rearrange them as desired.

It just takes too long and is very slow to render not to mention if you forget to uncheck the check-box every single time it publishes everything you create and it also clutters up "My Things" list with a bunch of junk that I don't want in there and then have to manually delete later.

Thingiverse really needs to rethink how it does the customizer. Generally I want to customize something once, download it and never look at it again. The other problem with Cusomizer is if you have a multi-part model such as this one and you want to print out multiple parts with special settings you have to reenter all those settings on each and every part you customize because you can't select multiple parts to customize all at once as far I can tell. THEN after you go through all that and find out one little setting was off you get to do the entire process all over again.

So that's my gripe with the Customizer.

Even after saying all that I've managed to slice up one of the plates and am now giving it a print. I'm excited to try out your new pins.

I do have to say that I got my new job partly because of 3D printing your geared bearing and giving a copy to the interviewer. They thought was pretty cool. Thanks man!

If you need to separate the pieces of a print, the Cura slicer has a convenient splitting tool that separates all separate objects in an stl, which you can then arrange and re-export as another stl, for your own slicer of choice.

btw the repetier host version >0.90C can split objects too

Thanks, glad to hear it!

How much Infill????

I didn't even think to use support. Printing in ABS right now.

This, this is nice. These pins are excellent. Most projects print too big and don't fit on my printer, but these, they actually work! Well done as usual.

Do you print these with, or without support?

Without. A fan blowing on the print helps with the overhangs (assuming you use PLA).

I normally just use ABS, but I'll give it a go without supports. I didn't have too much trouble cleaning out support from the earlier version of the cube, but all the better if I can avoid it in the first place.