Jun 13, 2017 | By David

In an increasingly digital age, the humble analog clock has begun to undergo a surprising resurgence, partly thanks to the accessibility of 3D printing technology.

3D printing enables all kinds of components to be produced relatively cheaply and easily, such as custom gear mechanisms and other parts. After using 3D printing for these very uses, one enterprising Hackaday user recently showed off their own 3D printed time-telling creation, the TORLO.

The clock was designed and built by user Ekaggrat Singh Kalsi, an architect who likes to tinker with engineering in his spare time. Kalsi initially set out to make a clock using a self-oscillating motor, but this task was fraught with difficulties: the motor struggled to keep consistent time, and contacts would wear out. These kinds of problems are not uncommon with electromechanical systems, particularly those working with points ignition.

So Kalsi sought an alternative, and eventually decided to use an Attiny 2313 motor, giving a more precise oscillation. Kalsi also took a coil from a laptop HDD, as the magnets would be strong enough to turn the gears. The motor was set up to pulse every two seconds, pushing the clock forward through a simple 3D printed ratchet and pawn system.

The finished clock is a really impressive thing to behold, with an incredibly simple but effective twist on the traditional clock face we’re used to from the grandfather, the carriage, the Mickey Mouse watch—pretty much everything post-sundial.

The ring gear that forms the outer edge of the clock is turned by the gear train, and it moves the hands along with it. The indicators are angled towards the empty centre of the circle, making it seem like they’re suspended in mid-air. It’s a minimalist, aesthetically pleasing design, and the fact that every part of the clock’s mechanism is clearly visible gives it even more modernist charm.

The two-tone white and red color scheme also adds to striking overall impression of the TORLO.

Kalsi has left instructions as to how to assemble the clock on his Hackaday page, with a detailed log showing the various experiments he tried along the way and the modifications and changes that were made. Anyone with an interest in mechanical engineering, 3D printing technology or design could, with a little effort, put together their own version of the TORLO. The component count is relatively small, and everything is either scavenged or made from affordable 3D printed materials.

Kalsi's Hackaday account shows a few other clock projects that he’s been working on in the past, showing the potential scope for invention that is inherent in such a classic, simple but functional device. 

Not long ago we reported on a 3D printed clock that was modelled after the lunar phases, and this is just the tip of an increasingly large analog iceberg of time-telling treats from talented tinkerers. More and more people are geting into 3D printing and even more people are starting to think about abandoning their fancy smartphones and digital devices, so only time will tell what the future of time-telling technology holds.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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