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Model of the Month – March

Congratulations to the March winner of our Model of the Month competition, Rodrigo Mercado Solis!  Not only is this an awesome 208 part Fusion assembly, but has been fully fabricated into a finished product.  Here’s some more about Rodrigo and how he used Fusion 360 to design his marble machine clock.


About me.


My name is Rodrigo Mercado, I’m 36 years old and I live in Mexico City.  Back in 1997 I was studying my BS in Industrial Engineering and found a half time job at a company that delivered CATIA V4 licensing distribution and training services to an automotive OEM.  At that time I knew nothing about CAD systems and I got hooked by the amazing things you could create digitally. The University I went to allowed time for the students to study and work at the same time, it was rough since I left home around 6:00 and came back around 11:00 each day, but it paid off!


Nowadays I still work in the automotive industry performing the packaging, engineering and management of exterior lighting components; specifically headlamps. The company I work for uses CATIA V5 (big jump for me since I still remember the massive Silicon Graphics Octane UNIX based machines that were used to run CATIA V4) and always got frustrated not being able to have a CAD system that I could use back home.




I also used to work with SolidWorks (again at a distributor) and even got certificated as a trainer, but since I also became an iOS user.  The lack of a product that could run in iOS still didn’t allow me to create things during my free time.  That’s when one of my fellow colleagues told me about Fusion 360.  I downloaded the trial version and immediately fell in love with it.  It is so simple yet so powerful; a tool that definitely brought joy to my passion for designing and creating machines that I could then build during my free time.


I didn’t think twice about buying the full year license and start building, learning and having lots of fun!  By the way the A360 included in the package is also great! I could review my design directly at my cellular phone!


The marble machine clock project.


I started this project thinking how nice it would be to have a clock similar to some I found on the internet but designed and engineered by myself.


The first thing I needed to figure out was the proper ratio of the gears that would drop the 60rpm of the electrical motor to 1rpm. When that was done, I started working with Fusion 360 to build up the gears. I found out how easy it was to build up a sketch with the overall size of the gear circumference and a single tooth, and then I could build a solid out of the sketch and use the circular pattern tool to create all the pending teeth. It was awesome and so easy! At the same time I needed to figure out a way to hold them together, build the structure, the slides, the paths for the metal balls etc.


Each tool I worked with just made the process so much easier… extruding, creating boxes, press-pull faces, adding radius, applying patters, moving bodies, I mean… it is just amazing the amount of tools and fun you have while working with Fusion 360.


After I made some progress I realized that the thickness of most of my components was not right. I found out that the laser cut tool shop could cut the design in 6mm or 3mm thickness MDF plates only, and so I thought, oh my… I hope I can make the changes easily. It turned out to be super easy due to the fact that the software is so friendly, bringing changes to the design without the need to start all over again!




 After lots of hours working out the details I wanted for my design I was able to cut the 208 components the design was made of. For the cutting process it was necessary to create a 2D drawing, which was fairly simple. The drawing tool from Fusion 360 is very nice and I’m pretty sure it will get even better as the new releases of Fusion 360 become available. I need to say that the complexity of the assembly was the main factor that made the 2D drawing creation a little harder but the assemble tools allow me to quickly move and position components into any desired location, which lead to an easy creation of the 2D drawing.  From there the exporting the drawing to a DWG or PDF file took no time and the outcome looked completely professional.


 The clock displays the hour by means of three slides and several metal balls lying at the bottom of the design in an angled collector.  The gear mechanism grabs one metal ball each minute and places it at the top of the structure.  The metal ball then follows a specific path to get to the first slide on the top of the assembly which displays the minutes from 1 to 4. The slide in the middle displays each 5 minutes from 5 to 55, and the one on the bottom display the hours.





Each of those minute units is represented by one metal ball.  The weights in each slide allow them to be collected on each slide until the balance is broken and the gravity does the rest! The balls go to the collector at the bottom of the assembly following some other paths with the exception of the one metal ball that broke the balance which falls into a distribution assembly that directs it to the next available slide. It is fun to see when the clock reaches 1:00 since all metal balls follow the different paths that leads them to the collector in bottom, quite noisy I must say!


 Congratulations once again to Rodrigo on winning the Model of the Month for March!  If any of you have questions on how to make a marble machine of your own, feel free to comment below.  If you think this is as amazing as me, share it for your friends to see!





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