UGEARS – Self-Propelled Mechanical Models

Ukranian engineers are running a Kickstarter campaign for their UGEARS 460 locomotive engine. 460 pieces of laser cut plywood can be assembled into a moving train engine.

UGEARS began as a start-up in late 2014 as a company dedicated to building mechanical models. The idea was that bringing intricate models to the world could help to create a sense of wonder and interest future generations in design and machines. Physically feeling a mechanism in your hand and seeing it in three dimensions with your eyes could create an experience different than looking at and touching a screen. The team is running an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign to fund their steam locomotive, the UGEARS 460.

A plywood base material is laser cut at the company’s Ukranian manufacturing facility, and the models assemble without glue. Rubber bands are used as the energy storage that allows the models to move. The locomotive is the focus of the Kickstarter campaign but several different models are available.

Tractors, trams, mechanical timers, safes, combines, dynamometers, and a pneumatic engine can all be built from different model kits. The company’s website says that construction of these projects might take between a half hour and a half day. Detailed assembly instructions are built pictorially to service builders from around the world. Assembly generally starts with the smallest parts building sub-assemblies that will come together to make the finished product.

Different models have a different number of components, from the 460 piece locomotive engine (with tender) to the 70 piece mechanical theatre. All of the kits come in a box that can be wrapped, and the makers intend these kits to be gifts in the coming years.

These models are amazing to look at and the mechanism design required to build the complex gearing is exciting to think about. This is a combination of product design, kinematics, and mechanical design courses along with, I’m assuming, patience well beyond my capacity. Models from this campaign are expected to ship in April 2016 but several models are already available on the American Amazon site.