1678 is doing a test run of a full-size 3D-printed wheel; you can see it at http://www.twitch.tv/frc1678. We’re using the MakerBot Replicator 2 we got through Donors Choose.
We tried this last night, but the filament snapped, and somehow part of it had gotten wrapped around the drive gear. In addition, more filament was clogged up in the nozzle head. Took me about 2 hours to fix. I hope this one goes better.
I’m interested that you decided to 3d print wheels at all. Is this just a test, to see what kind of quality you get? If you’re seriously considering using 3d printed wheels next year, could you talk a bit about the thought that went into the decision?
Yes, it’s a test. We think it’s quite possible (based off the advice of one of our mentors, who has built many 3D printers) that an extruded PLA wheel will be strong enough to endure the rigors of FRC. Our hope is to be able to cut down on manpower and machining time. We use 2-inch wide wheels with 971’s tread attachment style, which take our sponsors several weeks to machine out of aluminum. In the build season, this is unacceptable, so we’re trying to print them instead (using a modified design, obviously). A 1/4 scale model held my weight without cracking. If you want, I can post renders of both designs.