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Unread 02-13-2018, 11:13 PM
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Who do you like for plastic spacers?

I don't know if there's a more insignificant topic in Week 6, but dang it this kicked our butts tonight in the shop.

I know about Vex's spacer offerings. I know AndyMark has spacers too, though generally to serve some other product in their lineup rather than being its own thing. McMaster has any spacer you could ever need, but McMaster is also pretty pricy after a while. I know some people 3D print them, which is beyond our capabilities for now but you do you. And then there's chopping up PVC pipe, which...oof.

Other than those, have you found a spacer source you like? Or have I pretty much looked under all the rocks now?
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Unread 02-13-2018, 11:17 PM
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Re: Who do you like for plastic spacers?

There are some at Ace Hardware, which works when we need to get something today. We also have a bag of leftover used spacers, from a dozen years of building robots, and eventually taking them apart.

The bag is our go to, actually.
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Unread 02-13-2018, 11:19 PM
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Re: Who do you like for plastic spacers?

I know you didn't want to do PVC, but PVC and Nylon run pretty well on a tiny, cheap lathe. $200 will get you a lathe that's good enough to cut plastic spacers... and that's about it. But the ability to make custom spacers is pretty handy, and the lathe will pay for itself in a couple seasons. Plus it lets students get their toes in the water for when and if you can get a real lathe down the road.
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Unread 02-13-2018, 11:30 PM
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Re: Who do you like for plastic spacers?

This season we bought 3/4" OD delrin stock and a 37/64" drill bit and went to town on our [wonky] lathe. Saved a ton making our own.
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Unread 02-13-2018, 11:31 PM
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Re: Who do you like for plastic spacers?

4607 has used VEX and AndyMark spacers. We also use the acetal tubing from McMaster Carr (8627K199) with 1/2" ID. Yes, a lathe is the best bet for this. However, a hack-saw and sander can work well if in a pinch.

We carry acetal tubes, round bars, and square bars in shop for spacing.
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Unread 02-13-2018, 11:35 PM
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Re: Who do you like for plastic spacers?

If you have access to a laser cutter you can cut any kind of spacer you'd like (depending on the laser, our's won't cut much thicker than a 1/4"). We usually use acrylic, delrin, or polycarbonate.
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Unread 02-14-2018, 07:58 AM
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Re: Who do you like for plastic spacers?

We used to cut PVC with a brass tubing cutter from the plumbing section of the hardware store: https://m.lowes.com/pd/BrassCraft-1-...tter/999903185

Also, a cheap 3d printer (we love our new monoprice minis, $220 on amazon), is great. We have all our spacers saved on their SD cards, so we just pick the one we want out, wait ~10 mins, get your spacers.
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Unread 02-14-2018, 08:01 AM
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Re: Who do you like for plastic spacers?

Pretty much ever since we got our lathe we've done PVC spacers. Sure, if we know what we need ahead of time (like with the vex elevator setup), we'll save some time and order something. But most of the time we don't, and most of the time it's a weird dimension that's easier to just cut ourselves. It takes about 30 seconds per spacer on the lathe, so in most cases it's not too bad.
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Unread 02-14-2018, 08:25 AM
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Re: Who do you like for plastic spacers?

We either get the Vex ones, or do the custom ones on a lathe. That said if you do not have a lathe and want to use some of the "nicer" plastics like delrin and such look at ordering plastic tube from McMaster and cutting it down. You can order it by the ID and wall thickness and plastic type. You can use a pipe cutter to cut off pieces of tube or pipe as well as pvc pipe. The pipe cutters make straighter cleaner cuts then most kids on a saw will and go pretty fast.
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Unread 02-14-2018, 09:03 AM
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Re: Who do you like for plastic spacers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cothron Theiss View Post
I know you didn't want to do PVC, but PVC and Nylon run pretty well on a tiny, cheap lathe. $200 will get you a lathe that's good enough to cut plastic spacers... and that's about it. But the ability to make custom spacers is pretty handy, and the lathe will pay for itself in a couple seasons. Plus it lets students get their toes in the water for when and if you can get a real lathe down the road.
We do have what sure looks like a Harbor Freight special sitting in the shop that one occasional mentor knows how to run. Guess I know what I'm learning over the summer.

To be precise, 1293's current method is to use ratcheting pipe cutters on PVC. For some reason, every little "generally works fine" thing about our robot construction methods has broken against us this year. So I've got a running Google document going on how we can speed that up in the future, whether by stocking COTS items on spec or by process changes. Spacers just happened to be the task in the crosshairs last night.
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2004-2006: FRC 1293 (D5 Robotics) - Student, Mentor, Coach
2007-2009: FRC 1618 (Capital Robotics) - Mentor, Coach
2009-2013: FRC 2815 (Los Pollos Locos) - Mentor, Coach - Palmetto '09, Peachtree '11, Palmetto '11, Palmetto '12
2010: FRC 1398 (Keenan Robo-Raiders) - Mentor - Palmetto '10
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2017: FRC 5402 (Iron Kings) - Mentor, Coach
2018-: FRC 1293 (Pandamaniacs) - Mentor

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Unread 02-14-2018, 09:16 AM
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Re: Who do you like for plastic spacers?

Try the wheel kind of cutters. We even use them here at work in a pinch to make quick spacers out of emt. When you go to play with the little lathe download a copy of Southbend How to Run a Lathe. It is old and a bit dated but it still gives a bunch of information.
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Unread 02-14-2018, 09:42 AM
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Re: Who do you like for plastic spacers?

Stacks and stacks of washers.
Lowe's or Home Depot or the hardware store of your geographic convenience generally stock about 1/3 of the quantity we need. So after a couple consecutive trips we get enough.
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Unread 02-14-2018, 10:16 AM
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Re: Who do you like for plastic spacers?

226 tries to use the VEX Acetal Spacers whenever possible. Aside from those, for thing like prototypes and temporary elements, we typically lathe down spare PVC shaft. As other people before me have said, the McMaster spacer stock is also a good option if you have a small hand lathe
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Unread 02-14-2018, 10:47 AM
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Re: Who do you like for plastic spacers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Billfred View Post
We do have what sure looks like a Harbor Freight special sitting in the shop that one occasional mentor knows how to run. Guess I know what I'm learning over the summer.

To be precise, 1293's current method is to use ratcheting pipe cutters on PVC. For some reason, every little "generally works fine" thing about our robot construction methods has broken against us this year. So I've got a running Google document going on how we can speed that up in the future, whether by stocking COTS items on spec or by process changes. Spacers just happened to be the task in the crosshairs last night.
With any lathe: you simply need a cutoff/parting blade and a set of calipers to cut very accurate PVC spacers. These small lathes without an quick change tool post can use this style cutoff blade. There are specific cutoff blade holders for quick change tool posts.

Face the PVC edge in the lathe as needed.

Adjust a set calipers to the need length; and lock down the setting. Position the far end of the calipers body against the end of the PVC pipe edge. Adjust the cutoff blade position such that it just touches the caliper internal extension edge. Very easy to cut PVC down to 0.005 accuracy with any HF or small lathe.
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Unread 02-14-2018, 12:35 PM
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Re: Who do you like for plastic spacers?

This spacer stock is really easy to cut with a bandsaw and disc sander and has worked pretty well for us this season.
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