This Complicated 3D Printing Mechanical Watch Has 70 Moving Parts


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Mechanical watches are not worn anymore, however, like many other physical objects they also provide a direct connection which is unlike the digital link. One of the most complex watchmaking mechanics ever created is a tourbillon, and its intricately spinning gears are now available to be 3D printed as well. Tourbillon means ‘whirlwind,’ and the setup was done to improve accuracy and was first developed in 1795 and later patented in 1801 by the Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet.

The tourbillon is a type of escapement, and in watchmaking terms, escapement means transferring energy to watch’s timekeeping element like a pendulum or balance wheel. It also keeps track of the repetitive oscillations inside the watch. Escapements are essential to fulfilling the concept of a physical watch, however, the development of wristwatches provided a new challenge which is gravity.  The watchmakers in the 1700s noticed that gravity was interfering with their watches and was making them go out of sync.

Breguet’s tourbillon offered a correction with the balance and spring placed inside a tiny cage. The gravitational distortions were limited. These days there is no need for the gravitational corrections which Breguet created. Much more accurate mechanical watches were made in the 20th century as well as the digital watches. The complexity which was driving Breguet set a standard for the watchmakers. The piece shown in this video has nearly 70 individual components which are powered by a motor. If you have a good grip over 3D printing, you can do this as well by following the instructions on Thingiverse.

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