Ideal FRC shop set up

What would your ideal shop set up be? Or, if you have a set up with some non-obvious things that you really like/appreciate - what are they?

I think for me, my ideal shop area would be:

  • Shop Area - large enough so that over time the team can acquire and have space for for a knee mill, lathe, drill press, CNC router, band saw, table saw, etc - all the “heavy machinary”. Also storage space for raw materials, floor vacuum system, and 220V (single and three phase available). I imagine you’d need at least 30’ x 40’ for those tools, raw material, and a safe distance between them - but I haven’t actually tried to plan this out yet.
  • A practice area - full size field, driver station, pit area, and walkways. Maybe have some way to get chairs/benches on here for team meetings and to watch videos on a projector. Probably something like 80’ x 40’
  • build area - some tables for general assembly, storage for parts/bolts/tools, white boards for prototype drawings and discussion. Compressed air system, ceiling drops or floor outlets. Probably something like 20’ x 40’ or larger
  • computer area - for CAD, Chairmans, Business, programming etc. Probably a minimum of 10-15 computer, and white boards available as well

Obviously lots of teams have and can be very successful by splitting up the team into various spaces (practicing in a gym, CAD in a classroom down the hall, etc), but what would a perfect world look like for you?

For the shop area, you pretty much hit the nail on the head for me.

A practice area large enough for a full field, whiteboards and an area with some general use tables and outlets (primarily for programmers).

A computer lab joined/next to the shop area dedicated to CAD/design. Ensure there is plenty of whiteboard space for brainstorming.

Another computer lab with close proximity to everything else dedicated primarily to programming and occasional other use such as business and media (business and media are not large areas of focus for our team).

Lastly, a ~20ftx30ft room solely dedicated to robotics storage.

Ah what it’s like to dream. If only we had an unlimited budget and nobody to tell us what we can and can’t do.

As far as shops go, 30’ x 40’ is actually a bit too large. Our (very new) shop is closer to 20’ by 30’ and has room for 2 band saws, a drill press, a lathe, a large CNC mill, the finger brake, the drop saw, and the grinders/sanders.

Otherwise, you’re pretty much on it.

Money no issue?

100 x 80’ Steel building. Kind of like this.

In that a section for:

A full field
A section for machines
4x8 CNC router
4x8 Plasma
4x8 laser capable of cutting .25 AL
CNC lathe
50" Brake + Shear
Manual Mill + Lathe
Common shop tools - table saw drill press etc…

A classroom section with 30 Desktops all face 30x6’ white board
Dual projectors and Screens with sound
Prototype Area with general work tables
Automotive Paint booth
Powder coat ovens
Practice field area
802.11AC coverage over whole building
Radiant floor heating + LED lighting.

A few more odds and ends.

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For me, my FRC shop fantasy would be of course a large warehouse-like building and one wall that is just a giant whiteboard. You’ll have your practice field and common machines such as a lathe, bandsaw, mill, etc. But since I personally live in online design with my projects. I would love to see a large area laser cutter, a miniature water jet, a large build volume 3D printer that uses support filament, it’s chemical bath, and a large build volume 3D printer that doesn’t use support filament just lined up against a wall in the build area and a set of nice desktops nearby. If I could have that I’d die a happy man.

We’ve been so limited to things which are clearly less than ideal that it’s hard to imagine what ideal would be. Let me mentally pull the stops and see what I come up with:

If we had enough space and equipment (and money) to build an essentially real field during week 1 that we could leave up all season, and do all the same stuff to aluminum that we had to do in steel for the field, we’d be set as far as the robot shop was concerned. Well, maybe a big 3-d printer or two. Also, we’d still need a pit-sized or slightly larger space for assembly, a room with at least a half dozen computers for programming and CAD, and a few hundred square feet for storage of COTS parts and stock and such. Of course, we’d need a kickoff/meeting room, with a great big video screen, an internet connection, and a few dozen large electronic whiteboards each with a button to take an image and save it on our CAD network…

Y’all have the dream, but one key addition:

Shop vacs. One small one for everyone one or two workbenches. Make cleaning up easy!

Our shop is ~45x55ft and there are some days where I find myself feeling too cramped to work. We have a team of 40-50 students (varies year to year) and about another 10 (sometimes more) mentors. Another team in our area that I know of has a team half our size and has a workshop about 20x30ft. This works for them fantastically.

What I’m trying to get at here is that each team has there own unique needs, and what works great for some, may not work at all for others (and vice versa).

He probably said the other dimensions were too large if you factor in a 80x40 field area and 20 or 30 by 40 build area in addition to a shop area

How much three-phase power do you want? It may be easier and possibly less expensive overall to find a place that has single-phase power, at the same voltage and then make the three-phase power for the machinery that needs it using a VFD/ASD. I am guessing you want the three-phase for running a large milling machine or a large lathe. Some VFD’s are designed to be able to run from a single-phase source. Otherwise, you can buy a VFD with a three-phase input that is rated for at least 73% greater output than your motor is rated for. Drives Warehouse has a 5 hp for under $600. Automation Direct have several ranging from about $350 to $600. If you are going to Remix this weekend, I can explain how this works.

Check out Team 148 and 987’s FRC facilities. Very inspiring.
We currently have a lot of space, but its not as ideal as what those programs have.
I’ve been working on having something similar one day, hopefully soon.:slight_smile:

2 Hardinge HLV-H that share a tool cabinet, 1 Bridgeport with it’s own smaller tool cabinet, 1-2 large tool cabinets with hand tools, drills, etc., 1 decently sized CNC (Tormach 1100 or maybe a smaller Haas), 4x4 CNC router, and 40T press. Big material racks and totes for scrap on one wall. I would go for a full field if possible, but 1/2 field would be easier to set up. Near toolchests I would have easy-access #7 drill bits and taps.
Lots of thick wooden tables, preferably with locking roller bottoms for easy moving for cleaning.

It is threads like these that really makes you appreciate what you have. So many teams do absolutely incredible things with a fraction of the resources and space we have, which is incredibly inspiring.

103’s setup is pretty ideal besides sharing our shop and computer labs with the school:

25’ x 50’ Art room with ~ 10 computers used mostly for PR/Marketing and dinners
10’ x 15’ back room for storage and media (green screen/recording studio)
25’ x 25’ CAD room with ~20 computers and a whiteboard
25’ x 50’ Shop complete with:

  • CNC Router
  • Tormach CNC mill
  • 2 Mills with DROs
  • 2 Lathes
  • 3 Band-saws
  • Welding station complete with Mig, Tig, and Stick capabilities
  • 1 Drill-press
  • Table Saw
  • Miter Saw
  • 36 in shear
  • 4 Butcher Block Tables with storage underneath

10’ x 25’ Robot/storage room with raw stock and interchangeable inventory (both the classes and the team use the stuff in this room)
And finally…
40’ x 60’ Metal building we call the barn with a full field, the team fridge, and TONS of storage cabinets mostly filled with robot parts and stuff for fundraisers.

We do our best to open our shop and barn to teams throughout the year, but we are pretty far from most teams.

One thing to add if money is a none issue. An HP Jet Fusion 4200 3D printer.

Why not go all out…
Harding HLV-H, Yes
Bridgeport Series 1, Yes
Lots of Work Surfaces, Yes
Lots of well organized Material Storage, Yes

Go big or go home…
8x8 CNC Router
100 Ton Press
HASS VF-665 5 Axis CNC Milling Machine
Dedicated Kennedy Tool Cabinets for each Machine

and add…
Large Water Jet Machine
Horizontal Milling Machine (Cincinnati or K&T)
Surface Grinder (Chevalier)
Drill Press
48 Inch Finger Brake
Miller TIG and MIG machines
Horizontal and Vertical Band Saws
Cold Saw
Large Sheet Metal Roller
Heat Treatment Oven
Large Starrett Surface Plate and full set of metrology instruments
Layout, full tooling, precision measurement, gage sets for the above
Full Set of Hand Tools and Drills, Grinders, Rivet Guns, etc.
Air Compressor, Arbor Press, Vices, & Anvil
Full Set of Key and Hex Broach’s, Drill Bits and Taps

Excellent Lighting
Overhead Crane System

Powder Coating and Paint Room
Well equipped wood shop for prototyping

Probably could build any robot, and a nice trailer to transport it with all that.

What inspired me to make this post is that our rookie year we were fortunate to quickly go from a parents house to an unused band hall (large enough for a full field, build space, and storage). I recently made the pitch to the district that over time I’d like to convert the band hall we do robotics in into a robotics room. They seemed to have listened, and are evaluating what sort of changes could be made (which may include knocking down walls between practice rooms and such). I don’t think it’ll come with any funding for tooling, but I’m really excited to at least pitch how I’d adjust the overall layout with room to grow.

I can’t believe I forgot about the 987 videos - anyone know where to look for them? I seem to recall watching some videos in late 2014/early 2015 that walked through their build space. A youtube and google search don’t bring anything up, but I’m almost certain it was 987. EDIT: I found what I was thinking of. It was actually more about fundraising, but the first few minutes are a shop tour:

I’ve already been directing the people in the district to evaluate some of the many great Texas teams - 148/1477/624/118/2468/3847/etc. I think all of them have pretty good build spaces and great programs worth pulling ideas from

philso - I’ll look for you at Remix at some point.

500k for the entire workflow setup, to include the processing station. One perk is that the material cost is WAY under existing SLS powders, so operation cost over time ends up being roughly the same…

I’d certainly get a kick out of seeing some nylon 12 or hst parts on FRC bots.

Edit: After thinking for 30 seconds more, I’d rather not expose students to the powder process… Seeing how difficult it is to keep students wearing glasses, I’d rather not have to wrangle respirators onto them as well.