Hello everyone. Recently, my team (6897) and I have come across a huge opportunity for saving weight, money, and time. That opportunity is 3D printed versa bearing blocks.
Some backstory: I have an Ender 3 pro and have 3D printed minor things, like spacers, in the past for team 6897. Over the summer into fall, I decided that despite our mentors’ and president’s hesitation towards 3D printing major components, I would prototype them on my own. It started with me thinking, “what is the most used, heaviest part on our robot?”. My answer was the versa block.
Versas weigh about 0.1 pounds each. So, for a single shaft to be mounted, it would need close to half a pound of hardware. Our design for 2019, 2020, and 2021 consisted of a lot of shafts. This year, we are using over 30 pairs of versas. That’s nearly 7 pounds worth. The 3D printed versas weigh a little over 15 grams each. That means that instead of 7 pounds, it would only be around 2, saving us over 5 pounds.
Ok, so we’ve covered the weight aspect. What about the price? Well, a 3D printer costs a couple hundred bucks. Ideally, teams would already have one. If they don’t, they can be used for a lot of stuff around the shop and on the bot and are worth a buy. Or, maybe a team member has one (which is our situation). Because of this, I am going to disregard the cost of the printer in my price breakdown. So, a set of V2 versas cost $30. That means that if we didn’t already have the versas, we would be spending over $1000. To print all of our versas, we ordered 2 rolls of filament. My favorite is black Hatchbox off amazon. It costs $23/roll. So for less than $50, we have enough filament to print all of our versas and other things, like spacers and continued experiments. That’s a savings of over $950.
That’s great, but why did I mention saving time? Well, unless you want to pay around $100 for 2-day shipping or live by Vex’s warehouse in Texas, you’ll be waiting a while for them to ship. 9 versas, the max that will fit on my ender 3 pro, print in under 15 hours. So, you can calculate how many versas you want based on that. Odds are it will print way sooner than Vex can get them to you.
So, there you have it. 3D printed versas can and will save you weight, money, and time. I’m not going to give out specifics as there was a lot of time spent testing to make it fit our needs, but normal PLA is strong enough, and I print these at 50% infill with 5 layers of walls. Below is a link to a video of them in use: