3D printing has many huge applications in mechanical engineering projects. But did you know that with 3D printing, you can produce sturdy and fully functional gears? So what are the advantages of using 3D printers to make gears? Today, we will provide you with professional tips about the design process, discuss 3D printing materials, and discuss the best Use software to provide advice.
Design tips: Things to pay attention to when 3D printing gears
3D printing tooth selection
When designing gears, their ratio must be considered. The recommended ratio for 3D printed gears is 0.2 to 5. This affects the number of teeth on the gear. If you choose 2: 1, you can create various numbers of teeth: 30 and 60, 15 and 30 or 8 and 16 … There are many combinations.
The number of teeth also depends on the pressure angle. We will discuss the pressure angle in the next section. The recommended number of teeth for a pressure angle of 20 degrees is at least 13. For a 25 degree angle, the number of teeth is at least 9. Why are these numbers? Because if you design fewer teeth, they will require undercuts, which may pose challenges for 3D printing.
Extra tip: When it comes to precise numbers, an interesting solution is to design additional teeth. For example 15 and 31. Why? Because at 15 and 30, the gear modules always meet in the same way, so they wear faster. With 15 and 31 teeth, traces of use will be evenly distributed.
3D printed gear strength
Generally, if the number of teeth is small, the gear will be stronger. Moreover, a single module will become larger, which also makes the entire gear stronger. In addition, the small modules are weak and easily broken, and the gears may skip them, making it impossible to maintain normal operation between the gears. Pinions are also difficult to produce, and larger teeth will be produced with higher precision. You should really consider how many teeth your gear needs.
In order to obtain a stronger gear, basically, increasing the width means increasing the strength. In terms of thickness, it is recommended to design it to be at least 3 to 5 times the circumferential pitch of the gear. Keeping these values in mind should help you produce a solid 3D printing device.
3D printed gear accuracy
The accuracy of the gear depends on the number of teeth and strength. However, do not design gears with only a few teeth, it is important to find a balance point. More teeth also means that the workflow of the rotary motion is smoother, which will affect the entire mechanical structure. Therefore, please consider the purpose of the R & D project and the accuracy of the gear. In order to improve the accuracy of the mechanism, you can consider adding a gear. It will provide more stability for your project and make your mechanism work evenly.
3D printing gear pressure angle
The pressure angle, also known as the inclination angle, refers to the angle between the tooth surface and the tangent of the gear. The greater the angle, the more triangular the teeth. Triangular teeth are easier to 3D print and stronger, but on the other hand, they are less efficient at transmitting torque and are noisier. For 3D printed gears, for palm-sized gears, a pressure angle of 25 degrees is recommended. It will provide stiffness and stability to the gear.
The best software for designing 3D printed gears
When modeling 3D printing, you can design highly customized gears that perfectly fit your needs. With 3D printing, you can achieve accuracy with the best quality. In fact, there are some really useful online tools dedicated to 3D printing modeling tools. One of them is called Gear Generator, and thanks to its user-friendly interface, you can quickly design your own mechanism. Other online software is Rush Gear and Hessmer Spur Gear Builder.
3D printing gear material selection
Stiffness and durability are one of the main characteristics that 3D printed gears should consider. These are the characteristics of nylon. Nylon PA12 is a high-quality plastic material used in mechanical projects. It has low friction coefficient, high melting point and interlayer adhesion. It is worth mentioning that nylon is not waterproof.
Another interesting material for 3D printed gears is metal. 3D printing provides multiple options:
Aluminum AlSi7Mg0.6– 3D printing powder, durable and light weight
Al4-V titanium fine powder, with low toxicity and high melting point
316 and 316L stainless steel-this material will provide you with high precision and strong corrosion resistance
Ultrafuse 316-This is a 3D printed filament made of 90% stainless steel and 10% polymer binder
Should you make 3D printed gears?
As you can see, 3D printing has many advantages. You can highly customize the gear, adjust the shape of the gear, select the appropriate technology and materials for 3D printing. It is also necessary to keep in mind some basic values, such as the number and shape of teeth or pressure angle. Hope you find all our suggestions useful.