Now that we have covered the somewhat tricky route of tracing gear curves from images (which, by the way, you can use to create meshes out of any image) in part I, let’s have a look at the eMachineShop way. eMachineShop is a free gear designing software from the firm by the same name. They allow you to use their proprietary software for free in personal use, and then you can order the final product from them in a variety of machining finishes. I commend such an approach, especially since the software exports pure STL for our needs.
You can download the software package from eMachineShop.com and install it. When you start it the first time, you see a tutorial screen, but you can turn it off once you have the hang of the software. As it happens, it is very powerful, but a little quirky.
Gears are an interesting set of things to print. With gears you can make all kinds of things, and if you run an Arduino or a Raspberry Pi, you can significantly extend the toolbox when you can design custom gears. Of course, on Thingiverse, you have literally thousands of gears to pick and print from, but surely you want to make your own?
Blender itself has a Gears add-on, which you can install merely by downloading it and using the Install Add-on feature in the User Preferences. It adds a new type of meshes to the Add Mesh menu, namely Gears. In it you have Gear and Worm Gear, of which I will leave the Worm Gear for later.
Having had the MiniFactory 3D printer for a little over a year now, I have been very satisfied with it. It has lots of power, it can build quality prints, and it has just the right amount of the frontier spirit, that hack lab feeling to it. I have been able to produce just about every piece I have come to think about, and having stripped the machine a couple of times to the frame, I feel confident with it and can maintain it well enough. Now, Haaga-Helia bought two more, and here’s a video of one of them in operation.