3d printing usage

Our team have had access to 3d printers for quite some time now and we have always only used them for printing shaft spacers and some blocks here and there. I’ve always had the feeling that we could do much more then that but never saw any other useful ways to actually use them.
So I wanted to hear how other teams use their 3d printers. share away

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We used our printer considerably more than last year. We printed a few spacers that we didn’t end up using, a limelight mount, Pigeon mount, plugs for unused roborio ports, plugs for spark max ports, climber hook inserts, climb arm guides that were eventually swapped out for polycarb, some spark max mounts, and a part for a limit switch.

My team uses our 3D printers extensively. Here’s some examples:

  • Hex spacers
  • Bolt standoffs under 3"
  • Pulleys
  • Electronic mounts (Radio, Spark Max, RSL, ect)
  • Crush blocks for bolting through 1/16" tubing
  • Prototyping Blocks


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We’ve started using our 3d printer for a bunch of applications. We also printed a lot of spacers, of course, especially in orange and black PLA for our intake shafts and climbing hooks. We did several versions of mounts for our Limelight (smaller and flatter each time until the last was pretty much a mounting plate.) But the most important uses were for the curved spreader for the indexer tower, the clamping blocks that held our poly belt intake flappers on the shafts, and the mounts and activator arms for the limit switches on our climber arms. You can see all these parts on this picture of the robot from Worlds:


we used alot of printing to prototype a swerve drive, it lowers the time of manifacturing by so so much, and to be fair PLA is a very strong material that can be used for a very robust prototype :slight_smile:

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Look at 604’s robot @CTT @Eugene_Fang I thought y’all had a CD writeup but not finding it

you can follow my projects you can print a whole robot

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Here are some slides with example applications for 3D printed parts in FRC:

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Ironic that the Spectrum slide deck doesn’t include the really great Spectrum 1.25" bore clamping pulley! We used the heck out of them this season clamped to Versaroller tubing, and it took active smashing into things for one to fail on us.

We also printed the main breaker guard from that slide deck, which also worked great for us until a team got their intake inside us and smashed it up. We repaired it with a couple gift cards and gaffer tape to complete the event.

I know we’ve got a few other things intriguing us, so I’m looking forward to getting the printer in our shop back online.

Common things:

  • hex spacers
  • bolt spacers
  • other miscellaneous spacers
  • spur gears
  • spur gear racks
  • HTD and GT2 pulleys
  • polycord pulleys

Examples of game-specific things:

Shooter backing mount

Climber internal bushing

Mount for removable cargo hopper

Belt guard

image

Pivoting mount for camera and light rings

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Here are some examples on how we used 3D printed parts. We pushed pretty hard this season to use more 3D printed parts.

The black parts are CF polycarbonate from Prusament. The gold parts are pla. Everything worked up really well.

I think we probably could have gotten away with even more printed parts if we wanted to, and may push harder last year. It’s super convenient to have parts with a 1 day turn around.

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Most anything on our robot that is flat black and isn’t straight.

Listed but not limited to the following:

Most of our swerve
Climber hooks
Various bearing blocks
Low load gears down to 20DP
Motor mounts
Gearboxes
Various brackets
Rope spools (climber)
Pulleys
Jetson box
LED mounts
First link of the intake arms
Shooter hood
Hood rails
Anything on an elevator that isn’t straight

Basically, if it can be printed, that’s what gets used.

Most folks are impressed with a printed swerve and the shooter hood. This year the unsung hero was a simple looking frame support bracket

The frame had a weak point that was getting slowly bent over time. It needed to be a special shape and, of course, not weigh anything. This bridged 2 frame rails and was fastened with 1/4-20s and blind nuts. That long area is filled with carbon fiber. A Mac truck could run over it. It saved the season.

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Our students got busy over the summer… Hopefully we’ll have the writeup posted soon :tm:

In the meantime, I’ll share some of our 3d printed parts this year.

Everything yellow on our robot (except for a few yellow beam break sensors) is a part 3d printed out of PETG on a Prusa i3. There were no failures of any 3d printed parts the entire season (except for when other robots drove into the swerve guards, which were designed to be exposed). We leaned heavily into 3d printing because it reduces a lot of manufacturing time (just press start and go to sleep). Overall, we had >10 lbs of 3d printed parts on the robot.

Aside from the common application of 3d printed parts for things like shaft spacers and sensor/electronics mounts, we also used 3d printing in some unique ways.

Structural components

Structural components were designed with careful consideration of the forces being applied and the orientation of the 3d printed layer lines.

Launcher structure, battery mount, motor mounts, swerve module covers

Intake retraction mechanism
image

Ball path backing

Elevator bearing blocks

Springs/flexures

3d printed springs reduce part count and can ease packaging, but require some design effort and the overall lifetime of the material is hard to quantify. We were happy with how these performed during the season and will continue to use them in the future when applicable.

Intake latch (removed after first regional due to intake redesign)

Climber latch
image image

Sprockets

We 3d printed some sprockets out of necessity due to packaging and lead-time issues. We DO NOT recommend that teams do this. Material properties for 3d printed parts are really hard to quantify and can vary print-to-print based on the exact printing conditions. However, we did some calculations using experimentally determined material properties and deemed that there was enough of a safety margin to be okay (and it was).

image

Cut/Drill jigs

3d printed jigs enabled us to manufacture other components accurately and repeatably with simple hand tools. These are a great way for low-resource teams to improve their manufacturing consistency.

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Do you have an details on the design process you used?

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Here are some slides describing the math and an Excel calculator for it: FRC604 3DP Springs - Google Drive

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Composite Bot Planetary inside omni as a current example

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