3D printed clock, printed -- runs well!

Thingiverse user Syvwlch has been gradually perfecting a 3D-printable working clock for weeks now, and last week, he declared provisional victory. In celebration, another Thingiverse user, RustedRobot, actually printed and assembled the clock, and notes: "All the hands seem to move move as expected."

There's lots of interesting build-notes at the link, below. Love this experimentation and collaboration among the 3D printing set!

Clockwork Library & Printable Clock Script by rustedrobot


  1. You can make a 3D printer at home can you not? How much does such an operation cost?

    I’m learning CADD in school and am interested in this. Does Thingverse.com have a beginner’s guide? I couldn’t find anything as such.

    1. Actually, Fabbers already have a hello world. Tradition (all of what, four years old?) dictates that the first object printed on a new 3D printer be a shot-glass, so you can toast a successful build! :-)

  2. @wigg1es – you can make a 3D printer at home using a 3D printer. once we figure out the chicken-and-egg problem, we’ll be overrun with them.

  3. Mmmm… using late 20th century, early 21st century technology to make 13th century technology. LOL

    1. Yes, this blog definitely needs less 3d printing and more steampunk. Although it could always combine the tw-hang on…

      1. I’m envisioning an awesome clockwork banana with laser-etched details of Bob Basset masks as surface decoration.

  4. and the Babbagey chant goes up:
    diff…rence en…gine, diff…rence en…gine …
    (repeat until a solution appears in the hopper)

  5. Copyright/Sue/Destroy in 5…4…3…2…

    Seriously though, 3D printing is one of my favorite Boing Boing subjects. Surely those of you who are sick of seeing those posts can manage to scroll past them without too much trouble?

    1. I’m not too worried about being sued for the Graham escapement, which was invented in 1675… by a gentleman NOT called Graham, I might add! ;-)

      Now, after we get our sea-legs, I wouldn’t mind working on a printable version of the Clock of the Long Now, and that one is definitely under several recent patents (very interesting reads, by the way).

      I’m hopeful, however, given the stated aims of the foundation. The mechanical binary serial adder in particular is a thing of beauty!

  6. You can make a 3D printer at home can you not? How much does such an operation cost?

    As with all things Maker, cost depends on how much of the work you do yourself, what you can find in salvage, how much time you want to put into it, etc.

    You can buy a printer pretty much ready-to-go, or as a complete kit (such as the MakerBot). These options run around $1000. At the other end of the spectrum, you can assemble a printer from salvaged parts and hardware store accessories, and assemble your own electronics (etch your own boards if you like). The dirt-cheap route takes a lot of time and is pretty fiddly (but if you enjoy making stuff, fiddling with cool stuff tends to be a primary goal), but you could conceivably build one for nothing (salvage motors, stepper drivers and rods from old laser printers, belts from old scanners, use a PC running EMC2 to drive it all). More realistically you’ll be in the $250-300 range with a set of new stepper motors and several AVR-based controller boards.

    A common route is to build a bootstrapping machine (‘repstrap’) which is a cheap temporary machine, made out of whatever you have on hand, which can manage to move a print head around. This prints the parts for a reprap (or whatever target machine you want), and then the printed parts and the repstrap parts are combined to complete the target platform.

  7. One clarification for the article above. The link “Clockwork Library & Printable Clock Script by rustedrobot” is a bit misleading as it makes it sound like I was the one who created the design (i noticed t. That credit goes to the every talented Syvwich. All I did was click “Print”.

    1. rustedrobot is being entirely too modest :-)

      To whit:
      1. that is one heck of a clean print, and
      2. he posted a video of the gear train running, here: http://www.prototribe.net/vidplay/syvwichclock.html
      3. his feedback from that print has been invaluable for the continued refinement of the design

      In particular, he spotted a rather major bug in the design: it’s a 60-hour clock, because I used the same gearing between minutes and hours than between seconds and minutes. It was quickly fixed in the digital model by tweaking a few parameters, thanks to his bug report.

  8. DRTFA, but couldn’t he just use the plans for a wooden clock? I can’t see reinventing the wheel. Er, gear.

    1. I could have used plans for a wooden clock, except that:
      1. I wanted to learn how to design a clock, not how to put one together from an existing plan.
      2. I had to contend with design constraints specific to these 3D printers, i.e. low resolution and small maximum part size, compared to laser-cut wood.

      In other words, it’s less about the actual, physical clock than it is about the process… the fun of it!

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