Guest Blog from the Iron Maidens Team, Apple Valley High School, Apple Valley Minnesota
Iron Maidens from Apple Valley, Minnesota, the young and very talented winners of the competition, in a victory pose.
FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics teams love 3D printed parts! From gears to treads, from wheels to phone mounts, from sprockets to strain relief, the FTC 2016 World Championship was full of colorful 3D printed parts. Simply walking down the aisles of the pits, we were hard-pressed to find a team that didn’t utilize this exciting technology in some way. Most teams use Stratasys 3D printers, we noted, including many MakerBots. Students were eager to speak with us about their 3D printed components, and we learned about many unique design elements made possible thanks to Stratasys 3D Printers.
On our World Championship robot, we used a large variety of 3D printed parts, including a sprocket, sensor mounts, strain relief, a wedge, a spool and a phone mount. We have found that Stratasys 3D printers are incredibly helpful in creating parts when nothing that fits our needs exists. Having access to a 3D printer allowed the team to visually see what they needed to fix and what they could leave “as-is.” We personally enjoy our Stratasys MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer because of its user-friendly interface; it gives us the power to create nearly anything.
When taking a quick glance over the lineup of robots present at the World Championship, anyone’s eye would immediately be caught by the robot designed and built by the Blockheads, FTC team 7117. Their rainbow-colored creation was almost entirely 3D printed, from the treads to the debris collector. By the team’s last count, their robot had more than 80 3D printed parts!
Although FTC team 5070 created the larger items above, FTC team 5890, E-lemon-ators, were able to create smaller parts that were more to their liking. Whether big or small, Stratasys was able to play a huge part in these amazing robots.
As noted by the Philobots, FTC team 9048, 3D printing is very useful in creating custom parts. Teams often encounter problems that they can only solve with a “made to order” part. 3D printing is very useful when this sort of situation arises, and makes things a lot less stressful when changes need to be made. The Philobots followed this philosophy when creating their delivery and transport tube design, which would then take on a physical form thanks to a Stratasys 3D Printer.
Like many other parts, the wheels -- and tape measures, specifically -- were worked on many times, until all flaws were corrected. FTC team 5064 explains just how great it was to be able to utilize the engineering and design process.
Another key benefit of 3D printing is that a team can redesign a part as many times as needed. This makes trial and error a lot easier for the team. FTC team Erebor, 7486, revised their tape measure device more than a dozen times. FTC team 5064, Aperture Science, proved this as well with many iterations of their wheels and tape measure device. Using the engineering design process, these teams were able to quickly work out flaws in their custom parts and test working prototypes one right after the other.
Some teams designed many 3D printed parts, such as NUTS (FTC team 5070) while others like FTC team 5890, the E-lemon-ators, designed less. NUTS used their MakerBot to create brackets, a device to push a button, gears and sprockets. The E-lemon-ators 3D printed small items, such as gears. Whether the part was large or small, both teams greatly appreciated their Stratasys 3D Printers.
There is no doubt about the impact that Stratasys 3D printers have had on FIRST Tech Challenge robotics teams. They allow for unique iterations and the ability to quickly test new solutions. We leave you with one final message: thank you, Stratasys!
-- Iron Maidens, FTC Team 9205