Steampunk cube gears

by joefe, published

Steampunk cube gears by joefe Feb 16, 2015

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Update - In the _v2 large corner pieces that I just uploaded, I removed the overhang that was causing the captured pieces to stick together in some prints. I have test printed another cube and the new _v2 pieces work great. I did have to tap the bottom of two of the large corners lightly with a pair of pliers to pop the middle loose. It took much less effort than before and I think they would have stayed separate if I had turned the temp down a little more during the print. The gold pictures are of the new one. I also realized that the one corner makes a nice little stand!

I was getting ready to print another copy of my Amazing Gyroscopic Cube Gears and got to thinking that while it is very cool that it is able to incorporate all of the motions it has, it is actually pretty plain. I incorporated a ton of hearts in many different ways when I created the Fantastical Gyroscopic Heart gears, but I wanted to something more artistic. 3D printing is after all a great platform for art work. So, I started thinking about what kind of styling really fit with it and immediately thought that a steampunk style would be perfect!

Given that the cube gears is the center piece of the Amazing Gyroscopic Cube Gears (I really need to think of shorter names) I decided to start there and got to work.

All eight of the corners and even the center piece have been steampunked. For the large gears, I wanted to add another level, so I modified them to print as two captured parts where the middle is tied to the cube center while the outside moves. This allowed me to add some interesting aspects. I felt that it wouldn't have the full effect without being painted to fit the style, so I went to the store and got an assortment of metallic acrylic paints and a fine point paint brush. I think that it turned out great!

Here's a video of it:

Update - I added a couple of pictures of the progress I have made on the Steampunk gyroscopic cube gears I designed this cube for. The small and large rings and gears are complete and turning well. They are unpainted in the picture though. I am working on the uprights now.


Per a request, I added some reference pictures for the assembly with notes. The description below provides better detail though.

The v2 large corners function the same and are easier to print than the originals, so I removed the original large corners from the files.

Print all of the parts. It is designed to print Without support. If you use support, separate parts will get fused together. There are some overhangs and some minor bridges. Nothing too bad. I recommend setting your printer to print outlines from inside to outside since that helps with overhangs.

I printed it in PLA .2 mm layers at 100mm/sec with a fan blowing on the print around my nozzle.

There are many small details in these prints that can be delicate. make sure that you are careful to handle them by the bigger parts. Also keep in mind that if you drop it, it will break.

The large corners are two parts with one captured within the other. The tolerances are tight, so you may need to break them loose if they stick to each other. After trying different things, I found that it works best to hold the large corner in one hand and tap the center lightly until it breaks loose. I used a pair of pliers for this.

I recommend lubricating it before assembling. If you have read any of my instructions for other moving prints, you will notice a trend. I always recommend CRC Heavy Duty Silicone spray. There is a reason for this. It really works very well. Buy one can and it will last forever because you need very little.

Spray CRC Heavy Duty Silicone spray on all moving contacts and let it dry for a few hours before assembly. After assembling a part and making sure that it moves well, I will usually spray it some more by sticking the spray straw into cracks and then turn the pieces to work it in. Then I let it dry overnight. When it is wet, it can actually stick and even stop turning, so don't force it. Let it dry and be AMAZED when it moves so freely after it dries.

When assembling, Take care to line up the pieces correctly. Some of these pieces are fragile and consequently hard to get connected. The last thing that you want is to have to remove a piece because it was not lined up.

I find that it helps to give the pins a gentle squeeze with a pair of pliers first to help break them in.

I inserted the pins in the large pieces first and connected them to the center piece. Large pieces 1 and 4 are not that bad to get connected. Piece 2 is not bad either. Just be careful not to break off the chimney pipe. Piece 3 was tricky. I pushed in the pin as far as I felt safe doing it. Then I found that it worked best if I stuck a skinny screwdriver through the bars to hold against the bottom. This allowed me to provide enough force to push the pin into the cube center.

After you add the large corners, put on the small corners, being careful to line each one up properly. Make sure that everything is lubed and you are done!

Next show it to everyone and amaze them with what you can create with your 3D printer!!!

I am now working on the parts for a steampunk version of the Amazing Gyroscopic Cube Gears. Stay tuned!

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I printed this on a Da Vinci 2.0 Mix which prints in two colors so I didn't have to paint. I think it came out pretty nice. This is actually one of the easiest prints I have ever found on Thingiverse. It snapped together and rotated extremely well first try. See my picture under "I Made One".

Was the gold and blue colors painted?

Comments deleted.

I'm looking forward to printing one of these at some point as a representation of an item for a tabletop RPG.

Perhaps it's a dwarven-crafted key for a complex mechanical door? "When you place the box in the hole in the door, it begins glowing and rotating, turning the gears to open the vault door."

Or perhaps it's the heart of an ancient airship, and placing it in the engine compartment brings the ship back to life?

Maybe it's an item of great power that has served similar roles over the years... but is currently the toy of a nobleman's infant, ignorant of the great power it contains. The party's wizard almost screams because the magic aura is overwhelming and THE NOBLE GAVE IT TO HIS KID AS A TOY. "ARE YOU TRYING TO CAUSE AN APOCALYPSE???!?!?!"

I am printing this on an M3D micro printer. It's going very well and looks great. I have a suggestion for printing the pins. They didn't turn out very well when printed straight in the Z axis, so I tried turning them 45` (around the Z axis) on the bed. Simply rotate them before starting the print. They work and look much more like they should. The problem was when printed straight, the lock shoulders didn't print well. Turned 45, they print very nicely!

So how do you paint this thing? im not a great painter and im looking for tips and hints for painting in narrow places.

Hi zzherenow,

As an example of how to paint the inner details, for the caged ball corner, I used a fine tipped brush that could fit through the bars of the cage and carefully painted the ball with a tiny amount of paint on the brush. this was a tedious process because I had to put the brush through each hole to paint the whole ball. In the process I did manage to get some paint on the bars. To fix that I just painted over it with the color that I was using for the bars.

The same approach applies to the other parts. Just do the innermost details first so that you can paint over any mistakes on neighboring parts.

Good luck with your painting!


So, do you have the rings? Can you post STL? I would love to print the whole thing, not just the cube...

I have the rings, ring gears and other parts shown in the pictures finished, however I am still needing to work on the stand and I am going to change how the ring gears connect. I am hoping to have some time over the holidays to dig into this one again and finish the gyroscopic version.

i am interested in these, too :-D

for larp :-P

I printed the cube and it looks and works great! I will paint it.Can you maybe dumb the current models you have, if they work? I might use it as a prop in LARP, and stand is not necessary for that. Rings would add complexity to it and it would look even better...

have you made one that could be mechanically turning with a motor?

I am designing the gyrosopic version of this to be motorized.

This is something really outstanding! Question: did you painted it or...? Thanks

Would love to print your Steam-punk Rings, too _

Do you plan to upload them, too?

excellent design my friend! i am currently working on my own and will update with pics when done. Thanks so much for posting this.

Hello! Thank you for an excellent model!

I have a question - when I was printing the file - steampunk_gear_cube_large_corner_1_v2.stl
 - I saw some hidden cavity a little above the ground. What is it for?

Thank you!

And - best regards!

Nice work must of taken long to make.

My parts are very stiff when i print them out?

Love it! I printed it with Copper filament and painted with various metallic paints, And i modified 2 of the corners to fit into your "amazing Gyroscopic cube gears", Check out its picks, i posted them in a make! Can't Wait for your Steampunk Gyroscopic stand for them!

This looks so amazing, gotta have it. Very nice work man! Printing right now.

Wonderful design!
I had doubts it would print without support, but it did, perfectly, with very few minor problems (PLA, sliced with Simplify3D, printed with Arduino MAteria 101).
Definitely the coolest thing I've printed so far.

Mechanics work great right after assembling, if a bit of CRC is sprayed in the moving areas it becomes incredibly smooth.

Great job, thanks for posting it!

I have printed this using Sli3r/repetier-host and Cura (Mac) on a Printrbot Simple. Cura does a much more accurate job on the fine print details and prints the large gear corners so that they are easy to tap apart. Slic3r / Repetier large corners are more fused together and require a bit of force to separate. This is using the same startup G-code / xyz and extruder calibration. Cura is worth a try if you have trouble separating the large corners; it seems to be a better slicer, at least on a Mac.

Awesome thing!

It was only after assembling it that I was able to decipher the true function of this device: two turns forward and one back enables the time travel protocol! And let me tell you, here in the future, 3D printing has gone to the atomic scale! I'm not coming back...

ooops! turned the cube again and I'm back. Fantastic design! Thanks so much for sharing this!

This is absolutly awesome!

Man this is an amazing piece of art ! I love it !
I just printed it and bought some paint, will do my best to honor your work.

Comments deleted.

What interior fill % were these printed at? Very cool object, BTW.

Thanks for the compliment! I printed mine with 10% infill.

Comments deleted.

any way you can add pics off assembling it? thanks

Hi ncapaldi1985,

I managed to take apart the last one I built and took some pictures of the assembly. I added notes to the pictures for reference.

Hope they are useful.

Please post a make when you get yours assembled!


Very nice! What is your nozzle size? I printed with a 0.5mm nozzle and the inner gear is permanently fused to the outer gear. I have some smaller nozzles but I thought I would ask what you used first.


Hi kdpainter,

I am currently using a 0.4mm nozzle. Out of the large corner pieces that I have printed so far, I have only had one permanently fused together. It was the first piece that I printed with a bronzefill filament. That filament had a lower melting point, so I had to turn the temperature down and slowed the printer down a little. Also make sure that you are doing at least two perimeters with your slicer set to print the perimeters from inside to outside since that provides more adhesion for the overhangs.

Most of my large corner pieces were stuck together when they cam off the printer. Some popped free pretty easily. A few required me to hold the piece in one hand while firmly tapping the center circle with a pair of pliers to break it free.

Given that others might have problems with the aggressive overhangs in the captured part of the large corners, I have made some adjustments to the pieces to reduce the overhang in the captured part of the large pieces. I am test printing one now and will upload those after I test this one. Should be in the next couple of hours. I'll add an update to the info when I do.

Thanks and please post your make when you finish it!

Thanks for the info!
I tried again with a 0.3mm nozzle with HIPS. It was better but I wound up breaking some of the details off hitting the bottom with a wrench. I got three of the four to come loose. I think my next attempt will use PLA. I had the same problems printing your Little Digger. Otherwise, it could be I need to look at my printer calibration. Still very cool designs and I will keep trying.

If I can ask, what design tool are you using? You are getting killer results with whatever it is!

PS.. I just got a new job working from home making $90 hourly! LOL!

Glad to hear that you are making progress. Are you printing the new v2 versions I loaded today? It sounds to me like you may need to either dial down your flow rate or your temperature. or both. I had trouble printing small tolerance pieces until I made both of those adjustments. It could also be the first layer getting squished enough to touch the other parts.

I have been designing my parts using Tinkercad. It is a free online design tool. I started using that because it was the only designing tool that did not cripple my old slow computer. Now that I have a faster computer, I have not taken the time to get used to any other modeling tool. Tinkercad is a powerful tool that has many features that make it user friendly and it functionally has a design resolution to .1mm. In my Little Digger object description you can find a link to the Little Digger in Tinkercad. You can copy it there and take it apart or modify it to see how the different parts were designed.

I also have been modeling in Sculptris. I have nearly completed a T-rex skeleton that I am getting ready to prep for 3d printing and some interesting stuff. You can see that one here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:342051

$90 an hour... you must be working from home on the internet in your spare time to make that kind of money.

T-rex Skeleton
by joefe
Comments deleted.

Reminds me of the Lament Configuration. GREAT work!

Very good to print, only the cagethingy-part was hard to print.
Photos following soon.

Thank You allready, great work.

I think it's very cool. I'm printing the parts as I type this. Did your acrylic paints stick well direct to the ABS or did you prime the parts first?

I printed it in PLA and the acrylic paints stick quite well. I have not tried to paint ABS yet, so I can't speak to that. I recommend trying it on a scrap print first to see if it works or if you need primer.

Good luck and please post your make when it's done!