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Small, Cheap Plastic Gears?
July 6, 2010 1:50 PM   Subscribe

What would be a good place to find small plastic gears for hobby projects?

As a few of my previous questions allude, I enjoy building small robots and other mechanical/electrical things in my spare time. Recently I've started to get a bit more serious with my hobby, and one thing that I need to figure out is where to get cheap, simple gears for some projects.

Example: A robotic arm. I need gears for the joints to attach to a servo or stepper motor, and at this point I don't anticipate needing to lift many pounds or anything, so I feel like plastic gears would work just fine. The problem is that it's actually really hard to find cheap, little gears online. Everything I've found is either "Here is a random set of 3 plastic gears", or (comparatively) very expensive and made out of metal. I'm more interested in a new retail source than a suggestion to buy and gut old printers--I'm not opposed to doing that, but I feel like the selection would be limited.

The ideal here would be a website with a huge selection of plastic gears so I could pick the right size and number of teeth for my uses. Extra bonus points if bevel gears that mesh at a 90 degree angle are included too. Oh, and cheap--I don't want to be paying 5 bucks a gear if I can help it, at this point.
posted by DMan to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Old clothes dryers. You will need a phillips screwdriver and a 1/4" and 5"16" nut drivers. Then take apart the timer assy on the control panel every dryer you see waiting for the junkman. Ta-daaaa. Gear heaven. Or...you could shop for hours online and still not get what you want.

Place a classified ad for old mechanical timers. Here are some good brand names to lookout for:

ATC Automatic Timer Corp
Crouzet
Syrelec

Alot of these timers are mechnical in nature and usually feature quite a few wheels and gear assemblies


You can also find these types of timers in home irrigation eq, automation eq, old pool equipment.


Good luck,
posted by winks007 at 1:57 PM on July 6, 2010


McMaster Carr has a pretty big selection of plastic and nylon gears.
posted by zombiedance at 1:57 PM on July 6, 2010


Someone with a makerbot could make them for you.
posted by low affect at 1:58 PM on July 6, 2010


http://www.smallparts.com/
posted by mrbill at 1:59 PM on July 6, 2010


Gears and a whole lot more can be found at American Science and Surplus, a tinkerer's dream.
posted by SteveInMaine at 2:27 PM on July 6, 2010


Old printers and old scanners (from the side of the road) will keep you in good supply. They have good stepper motors too.
posted by antiquark at 3:18 PM on July 6, 2010


Scavenge some old cheap yard sale n-scale locos.
posted by Namlit at 4:02 PM on July 6, 2010


If you go to a store that sells remote control cars and airplanes - they will have tons of different gears, servos, shocks, and other replacement parts for the cars and airplanes.

I have a remote control car that i race hard and beat up a lot - i have to repair the gears in it frequently.
posted by Flood at 4:34 PM on July 6, 2010


My husband, the electronics hobbyist, recommends Stock Drive Products/Sterling Instrument in addition to McMaster Carr. He says they generally will have the best price on things, but notes that sometimes gears just cost $5.
posted by jeoc at 8:25 PM on July 6, 2010


old cassette decks and cassette radios are a boon for small gears
posted by the noob at 9:01 PM on July 6, 2010


technical lego?
posted by crocomancer at 3:12 AM on July 7, 2010


I have been using Shapeways.com to make plastic and metal bits and bobs from my 3d cad designs.
they offer fast 3d printing in plastic and metal that is suspiciously cheap.

So - If you like gears:
http://www.shapeways.com/model/25991/gear_ball.html

And - If you love gears:
http://www.kilbit.com/Gear-Heart.mov

This forum post describes how a bloke got his 15 year old Tamiya RC car going
by recreating long discontinued plastic gears digitally:
http://www.shapeways.com/forum/index.php?t=msg&th=1413
posted by driftingclouds at 6:01 PM on July 7, 2010


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