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. 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

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
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 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:

And - If you love gears:

This forum post describes how a bloke got his 15 year old Tamiya RC car going
by recreating long discontinued plastic gears digitally:
posted by driftingclouds at 6:01 PM on July 7, 2010

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