The brain gear has been printed in the Fortus 3D printer several times. Why? The gears on the first one did not turn. A second one was given to the Dean of the College for promotional uses. Another one was printed for the CTO to use as show and tell. Word got around and yet another one was printed for a faculty member who encourages the use of 3D printing in a design class.
Why is it called a brain gear? Because that is how it was identified by the print file that came with the printer. The barrel-shaped pieces have teeth that mesh with the other barrels, thus a gear.
As with any new equipment, there are things to learn. An object can be built with a sparse, double density, or solid setting.
You can see the difference in the printed sample above. Sparse take less material and time. The first brain gear was built with the sparse structure, as shown, but that proved to be too fragile. In addition, after an object is printed in the 3D printer, it is soaked in an heated, caustic bath to dissolve the water-soluable support material. When the first completed brain gear was put in the bath, it stayed in too long; the gears softened and changed shape, and so they did not move. Subsequent models have been built using the solid setting, soaked the appropriate amount of time and the gears turn. Now the EMS staff is planning to modify the file to include the shop or the university name on the base of the brain gear.
The photo gallery has photos of various brain gears in various stages from finished in the printer to partly removed support material to completed, as well as a video showing the brain gear in motion.