I want to play with gears - make my own and such. (They'd be custom, so it's not like I could put in an order for them to be made.) What are my options for getting access to the right machines?
Inch or two in diameter. They will be almost cosmetic, virtually no load. However, since they may be pretty flimsy, so they'll have to be made of a strong material to avoid binding and distorting, because...It depends on the sizes and loads that you are interested in playing with.
...when I say "custom", I mean custom....you'd be better off looking for someone to purchase them from and be done with it...
Thanks. This sounds great.Mini-mills can be purchased new from about $600 (U.S.). Tooling can easily equal (or exceed) that, depending on your requirements. Spend some time exploring hobbiest websites and you can find great deals on used machines and equipment. (I've got a pretty extensive bookmark list -- I'll be happy PM or e-mail them to you if you're interested.)
So when you say...
...you're saying that a mini-mill might set me back ~$600, but all the tools needed to do this "for real" might set me back substantially more. Is that what you meant?...Mini-mills can be purchased new from about $600 (U.S.). Tooling can easily equal (or exceed) that...
The key word being "might". The basic tooling to mill some small spur gears could probably be put together for as little as $200-$300. But, like most endeavors, the more serious you get, the bigger the investment.... a mini-mill might set me back ~$600, but all the tools needed to do this "for real" might set me back substantially more. Is that what you meant?
It's an art piece. If I can buy it, it isn't doing its job.Have you looked at what gears are available for retail sale?
It would be pretty easy to make the gears mesh with an RP model. My guess, they would cost around $100 each, but depends heavily on the company and if you know anyone there. Heck if you knew someone with access to any kind of RP machine you could probably get them made for free.I would sacrifice high-precision for the sake of labour and costs. As an art peice, it doesn't have to perform under stress, as long as the gears mesh smoothly.