paper: 3D Printed Wheel

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3D Printed Wheel
by: lbarger

The attached zip file contains a SolidWorks assembly and associated parts files for a printable wheel which was tested at the 2014 T.H.O.R. off season event. The ABS wheel survived the day of competition with no noticeable wear or stress.

The provided assembly is our 3 generation design based loosely on the AndyMark 4" Plaction wheel. The size was chosen to be a drop in replacement on 587’s 2014 robot to make evaluating the material and printing process under a competition environment.

Though the design worked well, it is not really practical to take the time to print a part that is so readily available. Our goal in testing was to see if the process was viable. If so, we could then break from the standard wheel sizes of 4, 6, or 8" wheel and make 5" wheels (for example).

We did learn during the development process that all filament based printers tend to print holes undersized. How much so depends on the level of detail in the STL file, material being printed and even the printer speed. So you may find tweaks are needed to get the holes for screws and bearings sized just right for your machine, material, and/or process.

We liked our results in ABS, but there are other materials such as PET+ that claim even better strength. More testing is required, but we wanted to share what we have done so far!

The thing to remember is to avoid stress between the printed layers. This means one can not simply rivet the tread to the wheel. One needs to use the same ‘alligator’ style belt clip on the tread as the AM plaction wheel, relying on the pinching tread between the lips on the outer rim for grip. (1010 KB)