80-20 Quick Frame Concept

Here is another method to quickly build a custom light weight frame for a possible manipulator mechanism. I haven’t seen many teams use this product.

Use drillable screws to fix the nylon joints and you have a strong joint.


Huh, this does look interesting.

We’ve actually used this stuff quite a bit in the past (although we don’t tend to use the finned tube on robots - more on organizational stuff). If you look at the claw on this robot, you can see some of the nylon connectors being used. If you use the ridged tubing that they sell, you can actually get a pretty strong connection without pinning it (although just to be safe you might want to anyway) but you can use the connectors with almost any 1x1 tube if you do pin it in place

EDIT - To be more exact, we use connectors from Esto but it’s the same concept

I believe 222 also uses this/used to use this quite extensively.

Didn’t world champion SPAM use this (or something similar) in 2012 too?

Yup. If memory serves me, 222 has used quick frame in one way or another from 2009 to present.

Their 2012 machine shows some pretty different ways to use it, as a frame for a claw/pickup, support for their shooter, and the frame of the shooter. http://www.chiefdelphi.com/media/photos/37474

Am I reading this right… looks like the Esto fittings for 1" box are usually over $2 for each fitting! Is that really not for a pack of a 5+ fittings or something?

Coming from a team that’s used a lot of 80-20 in recent years, this looks like a great way to help transition to more 1/16" wall 1" box… but fittings that expensive are hard to afford transitioning to!

Anyone have more first-hand experience with these? If so, could you share some of your experience, answering some of these questions:

  • How strong are they?
  • What box do you use with them? Looks like they’re intended for 1/16
    wall box…
  • How well do they press in? Too tight? Too loose?
  • Do you use any screw or adhesive to help retain them?
  • Can you typically dis-assemble a frame using these fittings and then successfully re-use the fittings elsewhere?

We use quick frame every year and love it. It is good for applications that don’t have to bear heavy or dynamic loads. You can build simple frames and structures in minutes. I would say that even with a screw, the nylon connectors can shear under high loads, but they can be reinforced with aluminum for strength. We love the stuff and it is half the weight of 80/20.

And when they do shear, they are a pain to remove.

I remember when I first brought Quick Frame onto FRC 1939 (Hey Gavin), I had a lot of resistance from the mechanical group. They did not trust the plastic connectors. I had to twist arms to just get it used on some minor support pieces. When you introduce it to the team, gather your evidence about strength and best applications. This http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-79559.html discusses the product as well as another supplier EZTube.

449 has used quick-frame extensively every year that I’ve been associated with the team. It’s a very nice material.

That said, the connectors do not have the strength of proper gusset plates, so you must reinforce them in high-load situations.

Also note that given the nature of the connectors, they’re less tolerant to errors in framing member length than a match-drilled gusset plate construction - it’s rather hard/annoying to push the connector “not quite all the way in” in a way which allows you to keep things square if the lengths of your framing members are slightly off.

Yes that really is the cost for a single connector, if you buy the 1/16th box from esto they will anodize it black or clear for you and if you want to order over a minimum amount of linear feet they will powder coat it. Keep in mind this stuff is designed for trade shows and enclosures. Their box has ridges on the inside to help retain connectors, we buy from another vendor since we crossdrill and pin the connectors at minimum, most joints are gusseted.

You can assemble and disassemble fairly easily with a rubber mallet and other hand tools. We tend to reuse fittings unless they were significantly altered. We generally use this material for super structure and mechanisms. In the case of a few of our robots the prototype using these connectors ended up on the competition robot in some form or another.

You will find that you use certain connectors way more than others, if you have any more questions PM me and I can follow up with you.

Yes we have used quick frame quite a bit. We didn’t really use it much in 2103 though. Basically we only used it to make a rectangular frame to support our bumpers to meet the rule requirements.


Here’s some more previous robot photos:




As you can see we have used the stuff to build robot frames, lifts, manipulators, etc.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think we have ever broken a plastic connector.

We use rivets drilled through the aluminum tubing into the plastic connector to keep it together. In the years we built the robot frames we used lexan panels riveted to the frame to keep it together and increase strength.

In 2013 we also build a battery cart out of the quickframe.

To expand on this a bit, in 2012 we used quickframe for an outer structure with lexan panels (known as the fish tank) around the vertical section of our ball pickup. The structure was intended to “take the hit” and keep the launcher at the top of the robot and the vertical conveyers in the middle from impacting the ground if we fell off the bridge (since bending those would be catastrophic, while a failure in the quickframe would be mostly cosmetic), and it did that quite nicely and lightly. We also mounted our speed controllers on the vertical lexan. We probably took 5-6 hard falls over the course of two regionals and an offseason event and had no failures in the quickframe using only the plastic connectors.

In 2013, we used it to support the front end of the launch deck (fixed angle launcher that hinged open to allow access to the electronics below). This wasn’t quite so happy a result. The launch deck was fairly heavy and had constant vibration in operation (heavy and dynamic loads :(). Most of the weight of the structure was supported by the horizontal quickframe rail, which was attached to the verticals with the plastic connectors (sort of an H-shaped frame). It held up through the first regional, but the plastic connectors sheared on us during eliminations at the second, requiring some hasty reinforcement with aluminum gusset plates and screws. In retrospect, we should have done that reinforcement during the initial construction.