3D Printed Swerve In Competition

As part of our effort to expedite the time it takes to manufacture our swerve modules we have begun to research 3D printing various components of the module.

I am looking for CAD files, or pictures, of teams who have successfully used 3D printed components for structural parts in their swerve drive and what material they are made out of.

I know 33 printed a huge portion of their modules this year so if anyone as a CAD of those that would be great.

Thanks for your help.

We (4256) printed a large portion of our modules this year as well. I am going to release a whole bunch about that soon. I know 2767 prints a fair amount, as does 16. 2767 has made their CAD publicly available, and it’s also relatively simple to machine.

Before pursuing this endeavor, consider whether a swerve module is really the best use of your 3D printing resources. Also consider your resources. Most material extrusion (FDM / FFF) printers will not be able to make reliable load-bearing parts. If you can make SLS nylon parts or SLM metal you can likely make something that will hold up in most FRC load-bearing scenarios.

If you do decide to print your parts, remember that you shouldn’t just take your parts designed for conventional manufacturing and print them. Remember to design for additive manufacturing (DFM vs. DFAM). Combine parts, understand the strengths and weaknesses of what technology you’re using, consider the printing orientation and how supports will work (if relevant) and how / if you will drain powder or wax (if relevant). When looking at power transmission such as gears, be careful of how you print them. When I printed swerve I made the tooth thickness on my module rotation gear about 3/4" thick and it’s held up through some rigorous testing. I printed on a Markforged Mk. 2 with pure Onyx filament and 75% infill.

All in all, when it comes to using additive manufacturing in end-use applications, consider your requirements, select the right technology to fit those requirements, and remember to design specifically for additive manufacturing. 3D printers are not going to replace conventional machining, but they can offer some creative workarounds when used correctly.

Not trying to rain on your parade, but 192’s printed swerve was made of mostly FDM parts, and works really well.

Edit: I realize that was really low effort. Here’s 192’s swerve. The module was printed out of the Ivory ABS from a Stratasys Uprint. The rigidity is enhanced with the #10 bolts running crosswise between the two halves. The upper and lower pivot “bearings” are just laser cut sheets of acrylic and delrin.

Here’s another photo of the module that I took: https://imgur.com/a/3KGjstE

I won’t get into a long post now. We are working on getting a whitepaper together about the development of our module last offseason and the result during our 2018 season. We are hoping to have this out right around IRI (no promises).

Of course there are a lot of improvements we have listed that we are looking to make this offseason and in the future, both mechanically and with controls.

I will say that all of the printed parts on our module were made with SLS Nylon. Some of the other parts on our module were also nylon plate cut on an Omio Router (highly recommend this or similar models for any team).

We’ll try to cover design background, manufacturing process, controls, testing, and competition performance in the white paper.


We do not have access to a high end 3d printer. We do have a team designed and built 3d printer. Cost 550$ with plenty of spare parts. It was an excellent summer cad cam training project that the team could afford. We have used the printer for 2.5 years now. On our swerve module, have several 3d printed parts. Servo horn, HTD5 pulleys, many spacers, idler pulleys, round belt pulleys. AMT 102 encoder mount to turn it into a shaft encoder, Nema17 gear box to 9015 motor adapter and mount plate, Plus several other small parts. Petg is our standard go to filament and when needed PETG carbon. All parts have withstood the test of time and competition. As mentioned the key is to understand the strength and weakness of FDM and design for it. I have seen many teams take a cad file for a machined or injection molded part and slice it unmodified for FDM. The part then fails and you get the statement FDM is not for structural parts on FIRST Robots. On our 2017 bot many of our ball feeding and guide parts were 3d printed and performed excellent surviving the whole year. They took a beating.
This summer we are looking at redesigning our swerve module. We have taken the lower module from Triple Strange and modified it to our manufacturing methods and needs. We are grafting our CVT to the top. The 3d printer has been extremely valuable. We have printed many variations in PLA for proof of concept and fit. After the initial prototyping the parts were printed in nylon carbon, PTEG and PC. We have a fully functional lower module. Not for a competition but for design testing. After IRI the top drive will be designed and 3d printed. I find FDM invaluable to the design process. May have to give credit and call it Sab-O-Strange swerve.
FDM is now affordable to all teams. Everyone should be looking at integrating it into their design process.

This is the key - printing on a legit material extrusion printer like a Stratasys or Markforged can get good results. Hobbyist printers that most teams have access to don’t reliably make high quality FDM/FFF parts.

If I recall correctly, 4818 printed many components for swerve on their 2017 bot