Master the Art of 3D Printing Gears

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Master the Art of 3D Printing Gears

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Designing Gears from Scratch
  3. Tips and Tricks for Printing Gears
    1. Adding Strength to Gears
    2. Choosing the Right Material
    3. Print Orientation
    4. Printing Multiple Gears
  4. Types of Gears for 3D Printing
    1. Spur Gears
    2. Helical Gears
    3. Herringbone Gears
  5. Gear Design for the Raptor 2 Project
  6. Optimizing Strength and Durability
    1. Separating Axles from Gears
    2. Reinforcing Pinion Gears
    3. Print Settings for Small Parts
  7. Best Material for 3D Printing Gears
    1. Polymax Polycarbonate
    2. Using an Enclosure for Large Prints
    3. Annealing Printed Parts
  8. Increasing Longevity of 3D Printed Gears
    1. Roller Bearings
    2. Silicone Lubricant
  9. Conclusion
  10. Support the Channel by Becoming a Website Member

How I Found Success 3D Printing Plastic Gears

Welcome back to another video, and today I'm going to talk about how I found success in 3D printing plastic gears that are strong and durable. Many people dismiss the idea of 3D printed plastic gears, but if designed and printed correctly, they can work extremely well. In this article, I will share my journey of designing and printing gears from scratch, along with tips and tricks I've learned along the way. We'll discuss the best methods for adding strength to gears, choosing the right material, and achieving optimal print orientation. Additionally, I will introduce you to different types of gears suitable for 3D printing and share my gear design for the Raptor 2 project. So, let's dive in and explore the world of 3D printed plastic gears.


The world of 3D printing has opened up endless possibilities for creators and DIY enthusiasts. However, when it comes to gears, many people are skeptical about the strength and reliability of 3D printed options. In my personal experience, I have discovered that with the right design and materials, 3D printed gears can be just as robust as traditionally manufactured gears. In this article, I will share my insights and techniques for designing and printing strong plastic gears. Whether you're a hobbyist or a professional, this guide will provide you with valuable information to help you succeed in your gear-related projects.

Designing Gears from Scratch

Designing gears from scratch might seem intimidating at first, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be an exciting and rewarding process. One of the software tools I recommend for gear design is Fusion 360, which offers a user-friendly gear generator add-on. This add-on allows you to create intricate gear designs in a matter of seconds. In addition to Fusion 360, I have also created a separate tutorial for designing simple spur gears, which can be helpful if you're not familiar with Fusion 360 or prefer alternative software. By understanding the fundamentals of gear design, you'll be able to create custom gears that perfectly suit your project's requirements.

Tips and Tricks for Printing Gears

Printing gears requires careful attention to detail and consideration of various factors that can impact their strength and durability. In this section, I will share some tips and tricks that I've learned through my own experimentation. These techniques will help you achieve the best results during the printing process.

Adding Strength to Gears

One of the key challenges in 3D printing gears is ensuring they have enough strength to handle the intended loads and stresses. To maximize the strength of 3D printed gears, it is crucial to print them in a way that aligns the layers perpendicular to the forces acting on them. This means that the layers should be perpendicular to the direction in which the teeth of the gears mesh. By printing gears in this orientation, the strength of the teeth is distributed across multiple layers, making them significantly stronger. However, it is important to note that the same orientation might not work for the axles, as they require different considerations for optimal strength.

Choosing the Right Material

Selecting the appropriate material for 3D printing gears is crucial for achieving high strength and durability. While PLA and PETG can work for low-torque applications, they might not be suitable for heavy-duty projects that require direct drive to each wheel, like my Raptor 2 project. During my research and development, I found that Polymax Polycarbonate provided exceptional strength for 3D printed gears. Polycarbonate offers excellent mechanical properties, including high impact resistance and toughness, making it an ideal choice for gears that undergo significant stress and loading.

Print Orientation

Print orientation plays a significant role in the overall strength and performance of 3D printed gears. As mentioned earlier, printing gears with layers perpendicular to the forces acting on them is crucial. However, it is important to consider the best orientation for other parts as well. For example, I recommend printing the axles separately from the gears to ensure optimal strength. By printing the axles separately, you have more control over the print orientation and can align the layers in the most suitable direction for maximum strength.

Printing Multiple Gears

When printing multiple gears, it is advisable to print each gear individually rather than printing them all at once. This approach allows for cleaner finishes on the gear teeth and minimizes common issues like oozing or retraction that can occur when printing multiple parts simultaneously. By printing each gear independently, you can ensure higher precision and avoid potential interference between the gears during the printing process.

Types of Gears for 3D Printing

Before diving into gear design for the Raptor 2 project, let's explore the different types of gears suitable for 3D printing. Each type of gear has its own advantages and disadvantages, and understanding their characteristics will help you make informed decisions in your gear designs.

Spur Gears

Spur gears are the most common and widely recognized type of gear. They consist of cylindrical gears with teeth that are parallel to the gear axis. Spur gears are known for their efficiency in power transmission, making them suitable for low-speed applications that do not involve high loads or stress. However, their limited surface area makes them more susceptible to damage and wear in high-stress situations. Spur gears might not be the best choice for 3D printing applications where high torque and load capacities are required.

Helical Gears

Helical gears are another popular type of gear known for their high load capacity and efficient power transfer. Unlike spur gears, helical gears have teeth that are cut at an angle, creating a helical pattern. This helical arrangement allows each tooth to gradually mesh, distributing forces more evenly across the teeth and making the gear significantly stronger. Helical gears are ideal for applications that involve high loads and power transmission, making them suitable for 3D printing projects that require robust gear systems.

Herringbone Gears

Herringbone gears, also known as dual helical gears, offer even greater strength and stability than traditional helical gears. In a herringbone gear, two helical gears are doubled up, meeting directly in the middle without any gap in between. This structure eliminates any axial forces created by the gear, resulting in reduced wear and increased longevity of the 3D printed gears. Herringbone gears are highly recommended for 3D printing applications where durability and resistance to axial forces are critical.

Gear Design for the Raptor 2 Project

To put these gear design principles into practice, let's take a closer look at my gear design for the Raptor 2 project. The Raptor 2 is a unique RC car that features true all-wheel drive, a concept I hadn't seen much in the RC community. The project required a drivetrain capable of transferring a significant amount of power through 3D printed components down to the wheels. Through extensive research and testing, I developed a power unit based on a five-to-one gear ratio, which significantly increased torque at the wheels and enhanced acceleration.

Optimizing Strength and Durability

To ensure the gears could handle the power and torque involved in the Raptor 2 project, I implemented several techniques to optimize their strength and durability. One crucial aspect was separating the axles from the spur gears. By printing the axles separately, I could choose the most suitable print orientation and maximize their strength. After printing, the axles and gears were glued together, resulting in a gear and axle system that was optimized for strength and durability.

Reinforcing Pinion Gears

In the Raptor 2 project, I encountered breakage issues with the small pinion gear due to its size and the high torque involved. To address this problem, I reinforced the pinion gear with an M3 bolt, which significantly improved its strength and resilience. Since implementing this reinforcement, I have not experienced any breakages with the pinion gears. This technique can be applied to other small gears as well to enhance their durability and prevent failures.

Print Settings for Small Parts

When printing small parts like pinions or axles, it is essential to use higher infill percentages for maximum durability. I recommend printing these smaller parts at 100% infill to ensure they can withstand the stresses and loads they will encounter during operation. On the other hand, larger parts like spur gears can benefit from reduced infill percentages (around 20-50%) to reduce weight while still maintaining sufficient strength. Adjusting the infill percentage is an additional setting that you can experiment with in your slicer to strike a balance between strength and weight reduction.

Best Material for 3D Printing Gears

Choosing the right material is crucial for achieving high-strength 3D printed gears. During my research and development phase, I tried various materials such as PLA, PETG, and Polycarbonate. While PLA and PETG might work for certain applications with low torque, they were not suitable for my Raptor 2 project, which required a material with excellent mechanical properties. After testing different filaments, I found that Polymax Polycarbonate provided the best results for printing strong and durable gears. Polycarbonate offers exceptional impact resistance and toughness, making it ideal for gear applications that undergo significant stress and loading.

Increasing Longevity of 3D Printed Gears

To further prolong the lifespan of 3D printed gears, I recommend using roller bearings and silicone lubricant. Roller bearings reduce friction between the plastic parts, allowing the gears to rotate smoothly. They also provide additional stability to the axles, ensuring the gears sit correctly in their positions. Applying silicone lubricant further reduces friction and prevents excessive wear on the axles, improving the overall performance and lifespan of the gear system.


In conclusion, 3D printed plastic gears can be successfully designed and printed to achieve high strength and durability. By following the tips and techniques outlined in this article, you can overcome the initial skepticism surrounding 3D printed gears and unlock the full potential of this manufacturing method. Remember to select the appropriate gear type for your specific application, optimize your gear design for 3D printing, choose the right material, and reinforce critical components if necessary. With careful planning and attention to detail, you can create robust gear systems that meet your project's requirements and open up new possibilities for innovation.

Support the Channel by Becoming a Website Member

If you found this article helpful and enjoy the content I provide, I kindly ask for your support by becoming a website member. Your support will help me continue creating informative and inspiring videos and projects. As a website member, you will gain access to exclusive benefits such as the Fusion 360 for Beginners course, my 3D CAD files, and a members-only Discord channel where you can connect with other community members and ask questions. By becoming a website member, you become an integral part of supporting my work and helping me achieve my goal of doing this full-time. Thank you for your support!


  • Designing and printing 3D gears that are strong and durable
  • Tips and tricks for adding strength to gears and choosing the right material
  • Exploring different types of gears suitable for 3D printing
  • Gear design and optimization for the Raptor 2 project
  • Enhancing longevity of 3D printed gears with roller bearings and lubrication
  • Support the channel by becoming a website member


Q: Can I use PLA or PETG for 3D printed gears? A: While PLA and PETG can work for low-torque applications, they might not be suitable for heavy-duty projects that require high torque and power transfer. Polycarbonate is a recommended material for 3D printed gears that demand strength and durability.

Q: How can I reinforce small gears to prevent breakages? A: Reinforcing small gears with additional hardware, such as bolts, can significantly improve their strength and resistance to breakage. This technique adds structural integrity and enhances the overall performance of the gears.

Q: Are roller bearings necessary for 3D printed gears? A: While roller bearings are not essential for all gear applications, they can greatly reduce friction and increase the overall lifespan of 3D printed gears. Roller bearings provide stability and smooth rotation, allowing gears to operate more efficiently.

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