In a blog post last month, I talked about a book from 1868 called Five Hundred and Seven Mechanical Movements. Amazingly enough, this beauty is still in print and is now in its 18th edition. Even more amazing is the fact that the paperback version costs only $3.99 on Amazon. I have a copy on my desk in front of me as I type these words. The book is packed with the most amazing concepts, such as the pair of gears shown below.
I've since discovered that these are known as scroll gears, and that they create a linearly increasing gear ratio. If you apply a constant speed to the first gear, the second gear will start out with a slower speed and higher torque but will transition linearly to a higher speed and lower torque (or the other way around, depending on direction of rotation). Here's a video showing them in action; the interesting part starts at the 36-second mark.
All this is making me want to experiment with many of the mechanical motions described in the book. This is really making me want to take the plunge and purchase a 3D printer. The strange thing is that, just as I was thinking this, I received an email from Alicia Beard, a PR and marketing expert at WildRock Public Relations & Marketing. She wanted to inform me that Aleph Objects is "transforming the 3D printer industry" with the new LulzBot TAZ.
Just look at this. I can so imagine it sitting here in my office printing out all sorts of interesting stuff. I've been wandering around the LulzBot.com website. I learned that, in addition to run-of-the-mill plastic, you can 3D print your creations in ABS, PLA, PVA, high-impact polystyrene, and even wood filament.
"Hotter temperatures will extrude a darker filament," the company says on its website. "Using variable temperatures during a print, a faux wood ring pattern can be generated. Finished prints can also be easily sanded."
I really want one of these. Sadly, the $2,195 price is outside my personal budget, but it would be eminently affordable for even a small company. For the moment, I think I will just have to keep on dreaming, but maybe one day.