Welcome to 3D Printer clocks, the new  home for 3D printed clocks and other associated mechanical devices .

Brian Law’s Woodenclocks has long had a Plastic Clock suitable for printing using the SLA process, and recently added an FDM version of that clock onto the site.

   FDM stands for Fused Deposition Modelling and describes a process of 3D printing which is now more commonly used  by an increasing number of home enthusiasts to build all manner of projects that where only previously possible using commercial manufacturing processes.

    After 30 years building clocks from wood I have now dipped my toe in the water and modified one of the older designs for manufacture in this way. Clock FDM-1 is the result of this exercise and is the first clock to appear on this site, others will follow.

    This first clock has taught me a lot about what is and what isn’t possible to achieve using the process, but most of all it has taught me that it is entirely possible to achieve impressively accurate results that are actually fun and quick to build. They certainly don’t replace the Woodenclocks that I have built for so long but they do offer opportunities to explore different area’s of clock design.

   I intend to progressively add more clocks to this site but also to develop it to include  other mechanical devices that promise to be interesting items to develop, it will be items like Postal scales , mechanical locks, and one that I have wanted to do for a long time is a Chinese South pointing Chariot..

So that’s looking ahead for the moment I have the first 3D Printed Clock, a Tape Dispenser with a novel delivery means, and  a Clock to teach a Child the Time. As with the Woodenclocks site  the clock plans will all be paid for and include the STL files to print the model along with STP files so that you can modify it to your own  preference..

Welcome to Brian Law’s 3D printed Clocks

Clock-FDM 1

The design is simple and straight forward requiring only some additional nuts, bolts, shafts and bearings.

The clock will run for about 10 hours and is accurate to less than a minute over that time.

This clock requires only the STL files to allow you to build the complete clock. These files have been generated with the more complex parts split into simple ones, that can be quickly solvent bonded together, instead of having to use to many supports. The clock was designed in mm but additional files are provided so that you can use inch components , such as the shafts and bearings.

The clock needs a couple of weights to drive it so I have supplied STL files for the two weight containers so that they can be filled either with lead shot or steel balls (shotgun ammo) The pendulum bob also requires some weight so it is made hollow so you can add some weight to it.

STP files are also included so that you can modify the model if you want to develop your own design using it as a starting point.

Clock FDM-1

Clock FDM-2

This the second 3D printed plastic clock to feature on the site, it makes use of the latest 3D printing technology to offer a technically exiting challenge to the many users of this equipment. It has been kept quite small to fit within the limited size envelop of many of these machines and is designed specifically to avoid the use of supports during the printing process.

The clock features a standard gearing arrangement to give 1:120 reduction required between the driving shaft and the escapement. It has the latest Woodenclocks gravity escapement which features reduced friction within the escapement to give you a more accurate timekeeper. It also uses a gravity ratchet arrangement to make winding easier, just pulling down on the counter weight will rewind the clock to run for another 12 hours.

The clock can be adjusted to keep it running to an accuracy of 1 min in 24 hours, and may be even better, but I gave up trying to improve on it at this point. Adjustment is by moving the pendulum Bob up or down to either speed up or slow down the clock.

Clock-FDM 2 Gear-goup.jpg loaded-gears.jpg Printed-group.jpg

Metronome Engine. After finishing the article on the compound Pendulum  for the Woodenclocks website I need to validate the the calculations from the Excel file I had been using. It has taken a while but I finally built a rig to test the calculated results, based on the engine used in a metronome. Its the only mechanism that I could find that actually used the compound pendulum so turned out to be ideal for 3D printing the rig. The rig is driven by a weight inside the steam engine style boiler on the end of a stalk, it drives an escape wheel through a gravity ratchet and a couple of gears to give around 2.5 minutes of running time. The compound pendulum controls the rate at which it tick tocks , moving the top weight up slows down the pendulum and visa versa. The top and bottom weights can also be changed out for bigger or smaller weights to also change the rate. With all these possible variations it was straight forward to finesse the results to get the right combination that could be scaled for use in a larger wooden clock.

This rig could also be modified to add a scale so that it could actually be used as a metronome, as it is its actually a nice little gadget to create on your 3D printer.

Files and video are available by clicking on the image to the left.

South Pointing Chariot

South Pointing Chariot.  


A Chinese chariot with a figure mounted on top, forever pointing towards the south, irrespective of which way the chariot is heading. A series of gears driving a differential driven by the 2 wheels creates the movement of the figure relative to the chariot.

Actually not too accurate because of the need for the extreme dimensional accuracy of the gears and wheels but good for impressing the people on grand public occasions.

It was thought to have been developed first in 2600 BC the first historically confirmed version was created by Ma Jun around 200. It’s secret was lost  and reinvented many time through history but in 1947 George Lanchester designed a model that used a differential to drive the pointing figure. It is that design upon which this model is based.

Mechanical Counter

Mechanical Counter

I had always wondered how the mechanical counter worked, and it turned out to be nothing like the way I imagined it would be, but something simpler and more elegant.

Having discovered this I worked out this design that could be 3D printed. Research on the Internet several designs that kept all the gearing internal to the number reels, but the one that is more appropriate to help with the understanding of the workings was the one shown on the left. This has 3 number reels that allow you to count to 999 and uses a lost motion gear pair in between each reel, that transfers the motion to the next reel after 1 complete revolution of the lower digit.

Counter-1.jpg Counter-6.jpg Counter-25.jpg

Lockable Container

Lockable Container

Continuing with the ‘How it works’ theme this project looks at how a simple lock works. Normally a Mortise lock fitted into a door will have a latch which is opened by turning the door handle and a Deadbolt that can be locked or opened with a key. For the purpose of this project I have removed the latch and use just a single lever to lock the bolt.

I have fitted this into the lid of a container so that you finish up with a lockable container for keeping small items secure.

In the picture shown the Bolt is Green and the Lever is red, when the key is fitted and turned, it firstly lifts the lever from its locking engagement with the bolt and continued turning then moves the bolt to its lock position. The Cap can now be rotated 30° anti-clockwise and pulled from the container.

lk-1.jpg lk-9.jpg Automata 1

Automata 1 - Bill and Ben watering a Flower.

I like to take a break from clocks over the Winter and try something different, so this year I have started to look at Automata, lots of wonderful designs out there but not that many taking advantage of 3D printing. I started with the idea of a flower raising its head to follow the Sun around the sky as the often do and developed that into this first model with three motions driven by simple cams.

This project has characters based on Bill and Ben the Flowerpot men, a popular puppet show on television in the 1950’s.

They have been changed bit to suit building on a 3D printer and the original Weed character is now a Flower which has a flower head that is lifted when Bill pours water on it from his watering can.

The characters are animated with a series of simple cams beneath, with Ben waving to Bill as he arrives garden fork in hand.  Bill is busy watering the flower which responds by lifting its head as the water soaks in.

Automata 3 - Ben and Gerry at the Gym

Automata 3

Ben and Jerry are two new characters for this third automaton, young competitive brothers going head to head at the gymnasium. A simple set of cams to drive the right arm into a punch with a wire attached to the forearm to move it straight to the Punchball.

Each brother taking it in turn to hit the Punchball, with the timing being controlled by swivel plate mounted in the centre of the camshaft.  

Automata 4 - Ben Rides around the Clock

Automata 4

Ben on his own this time, rides around the clock on his Unicycle. After their stint at the Gym I thought I would try to get some more movement into the character, so the idea formed of movement along a circular path would be straight forward to achieve but a bit boring, so I had him move a minute hand of a clock around a Dial and introduced the gears to turn the hour hand as well. He can now be used to teach a child to tell the time as well as providing some amusement.

A 3:1 ratio pair of Bevel gears drive the Unicycle around and the friction between the wheel and the top face of the box drives the legs around on the pedals.

Lockable container with Hidden key

Lockable ContainerV2

This is a development of the previous lockable container, even uses the some of the same parts from the earlier design. This time however it has a slide out tray for storing the Key, primarily so it won’t get lost but also to add a little mystery as to where it is.

Access to the key by depressing the button on the side and the pulling out the tray holding the key from the front.

All parts are made from ABS with the exception of a short Ø1.5 mm or 1/16” diameter steel pin used as a pivot for the Sprung Latch used to hold the tray in place, this was necessary to stop the pivot breaking of if the Tray is pulled too strenuously.