Customizable Cube Gears

by emmett, published

Customizable Cube Gears by emmett Feb 15, 2013

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UPDATE: This design has been superseded by my newer version, http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:213946, which has better pins. I highly recommend you print that instead, as it prints more reliably, assembles much easier and holds together better.

I figured it was high time I updated my cube gears to use my newer pin library, and while I'm at it, why not make it customizable? The new pins fit in much easier than before, and if you have any trouble, you can change the tolerance and get new pins from the customizer app.

This cube gear has different numbers of teeth than my original, which means you have to turn it more to get back to a cube. The customizer also has the original gearing as an option, as well as one with fewer teeth (good for making it small).

I also put in the ability to put words on the faces of the large gears. This way you can make a personal gift, or maybe a silly game where different word pairs come together as you turn the cube. I'd like to see what you come up with.


Print the plate (it fits on a Replicator bed), or print one center, four large gears, four small gears and eight pins. Assemble and turn! I've found a little grease on the pins helps a lot, especially with PLA.

When you open customizer, you're given a choice of what part to render, in case all you need is a new pin or a large gear with words on it. If you want to make an all new cube gear, just make an stl of each of the four parts. The assembly is just there so you can see how it will look; there's no point in exporting it.

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Comments deleted.

these particular files are not the best, due to the difference in the gears the cube takes multiple rotations to return to a cube.i know that there are files that have the proper gearing

Does it need supports??

Thanks for the newer version link. I will like that one too

Can you make a full plate with all parts that can fit on a Printrbot simple metal?

I wasn´t able to write my own text on it. Using openSCAD 2015. Included the latest version of write.scad. Got no warnings, but also no text.

I love it.
when I made it, it took a long time to print, and I wish that it would stay together, but it dos look good and it is cool.
I recommend it.

I'm printing one out right now, I'm hoping that I can figure out how to put this thing together lol.

I'm having trouble with the pins too. They printed fine along with everything else on the plate, but they seem too long. How much of a gap is there expected to be between the gears and the center? I get a several mm gap and things don't feel tight.

Yeah, actually I noticed that too and just chalked it up to a printing error. Sounds now like it's more likely a math error. I'll look into it...

Did you have a chance to look at this? Am I printing it incorrectly?

I'm not quite sure, but I think the bridges across the top of the pinholes in the gears may be sagging, thus shortening the effective depth of the hole. I should probably just put some extra depth in there to make it a more sure-fire print, but you can try adding a fan if you're printing with PLA.

I tried to print one of these from the provided STL files. When printed, the pin holes in the center piece did not appear to have the same depth. Four of the holes had a depth of approximately 9mm. The four on the opposite side of those holes had a depth of approximately 11mm. I'm curious if anyone else had the same issue. I'm still pretty new to printing, but it seems like the pins being slightly off-center would be an easy mistake to make. I was planning to dig into the SCAD file to take a look, but I wanted to get some confirmation before I did. There's a lot of math in there. Has anyone else noticed this problem?

It's not an error. In fact, this way the pins are all equidistant from the center; the trick is that the faces are not all the same distance from the center (hence the shape being not quite a normal octahedron). Likewise, the two types of gears are correspondingly different sizes.

Thanks for the quick response. That makes sense, and it is how I had assembled it. Large gears go to the large face on the center, yes? I've tried the opposite, and that's worse for me.

My problem is that when printed, I can't get the gears to set down on the pins far enough for the mating surfaces to touch. I assume the surfaces are intended to mate, from the other comments. That extra distance away from the center makes it such that the gears have trouble lots of travel and tend to not engage well. My thought was that the holes weren't deep enough somewhere.

I'll research my printing issues and see if I sliced something with the wrong settings or something like that. Thanks again, and thanks for the model. Gear cubes are basically what made me want to get a printer in the first place.

it would be nice if there is a smaller version

It's customizable for that very reason.

oh i dont really understand how to use it.

Hi Can anyone help, i am having trouble trying to get the pins to print... slicer only recognises 4 layers and thats it.. the rest of the items printed pretty well accurate

Hi i cant get the pins to slice correctly can you help? the rest printed ok

Running the cleanup extension in sketchup seems to fix the pins up. Whenever slicer can't slice because of overlapping/intersecting faces I have found you need to look inside the model for unnecessary walls. e.g. If you join two boxes then the whole inside needs to be one open space and so you need to remove any partitions.

Yet another Emmett classic.

I found that the best fitting pins when printing with ABS, .25mm layer height, and a .35mm nozzle were using the 0.3 tolerance and the fatter pin style.


Once I did that it assembled nicely and stayed together during rotations!

Pin for Customizable Cube Gears
by jakepoz

Could you motorize this?

actually printing this 350% bigger :) need 2 more parts

Got a non manifold in Slic3r near 33-31.

Made One!
Printed in PLA with bed at room temperature, and 220 C. .27 mm 2.75 hours

Had to sand the pins down a little in order to get them in without forcing too hard.

Before assembly take a graphite pencil and cover all the internals with it, Your cube will spin effortlessly.

How long does it take

how do you put this together?

Printed at .5 on my Up! Mini. Came out nicely, though the pins won't get deep enough into the base somehow. They are sticking out too far, and it doesn't work as it's supposed to. Looking inside the base there is no raft or anything, so i'm not sure why it didn't work. Will try raftless this evening to see if it works this way.

How do i get rid of that EL on the large gears?

Hey man, I'm just signing my work. If it really bothers you, you can open up the scad file and remove it.

What a Jackass, I tell everyone its your initials and give props every time. Nice as usual.

Oh, that's no problem, would it bother you if I did remove it? I just printed a cube and it's so easy to assemble. Wayyy better than the last model so thank you so much for this new cube. It's so great.

It's an open license, do as you please. it was just my attempt at semi-automatic attribution.

Nice cubes been displayed, mine is coming.............Printing at .1 , each small gear so far works out to 1hr 10 mins to print , the pins took 7 mins each , the the base 2hrs , just got the big gears to go and i'll upload a pic of my green and yellow cube. Using very good quality PLA

Hey Emmett - sorry, I managed to screw up your monogram - was trying to shift it and didn't notice until I started printing! I'll have to have the wifey do a custom painted one for ya!

Also quick question on PinV3 - when I generate the STL from OpenScad with object set to 3, I'm getting a horizontal bar across the middle of the pin. I've not dug into the library, but I noticed the STL's you uploaded didn't have them? I think this is "side"?

thanks for such a great model , im trying to print it at .1 in green and yellow PLA

If you use an external fan the PLA cools better and turns solid faster. This way it won't curl up because of the heat of the nozzle and the model will look better.

When I try and print the gears (in PLA) on my Printrbot + the very tip of the gear teeth always curl upwards layer by layer until the print is totally ruined. Any advice?

point a fan at the print when it's printing. problem solved.

Try dropping your extrusion temp a bit, bed as well if you are heating, and use loads of cooling. You can also tweet height over width, but that's a bit more iffy unless you've played with it before. I just printed this in PLA, and had not problems with curling using the above.

He's done it again! Many thanks! Printing now (: