Suggestions for general funds to burn

How would you spend $3-5k? :money_with_wings::money_with_wings:

With FiM districts postponed, it’s likely that we’ll have extra money in our general fund at the end of the fiscal year. If we don’t use it we lose it.

We’re sort of low to mid in terms of resources with an annual around $25k. We have a decent parts inventory and material stock, a couple 3D printers, a Shapeoko3, and a Nomad 883, but no mills or welding equipment.


An Omio X8 CNC router. Pocketing aluminum at full 1/4" DOC at 160 ipm is satisfying, and I doubt you have a great experience cutting aluminum on your current CNC machines. I would also get a small metal lathe if you don’t already have one or some spare FRC electronics.


Id recommend a Markforge or other CF 3D printer. Sadly I think the Onyx One just did a price increase to $5,000, so might be out of your budget if you only got $3k.

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Thor Kitchen HTC9624W 96 Inch 96" 24 Drawer Wide Stainless Steel Anti-Fingerprint Tool Chest with Work Station, Brown

Save it. There’s a potential economic downturn soon, and with COVID-19 causing worldwide quirkiness I wouldn’t be too hasty to spend things at the moment.


He said if they don’t use it they lose it at the end of the fiscal year.


Because of an anticipated refund? Don’t bank on that. Or because you didn’t have to spend it on MSC?


You can probably get a good used lathe or mill (20-30yrs old) in that price range… But you may want to see how this economic collapse works out depending on where your funding comes from and/or if the used market for equipment gets more supply if things turn badly.

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Being able to CNC aluminium in-house would be very nice…

I’d prioritize a mill or lathe with a DRO before adding a more capable CNC router. You can do some aluminum with the Shapeoko, but a Bridgeport or even a smaller mill like one of the Grizzly models in the $2~3k range with proper tooling would add more capabilities. Our CNC router definitely changed how we build robots, but a lot of times we’ll stick things on the mill instead for making press-fit bearing holes or accurately milling/drilling holes in drive frames.


Going to guess they keep a few K from the school invade they get into MSC but now that’s not happening they have a bit of money from their school in a use it or lose it situation.

I would also suggest skimming through Spectrum’s “First $10,000” list if you haven’t. It includes their recommended priorities on what to buy with your first $10k as far as shop equipment and tools.

For teams who are stocking up on the basic stuff first, they publish a “First $1,000” list also, which is a really good resource for anyone to make sure you hit all the important stuff:


I disagree. Our Omio X-8 did a lot more for us this year than a manual mill. We ran tons of plastic and aluminum sheet… And with low profile vices we ran a good bit of tube on it as well.


Why not a World’s Slush fund next year? Guarantee you have the money to go if you win an event or wait-list.

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Maybe it’s because we’re still learning to use our CNC router (CNC Router Parts Pro4848) but we use both that and our Bridgeport mill pretty equally. I’d personally rather have a decent mill and a decent CNC router, rather than a decent CNC router and a really good CNC router. Sometimes it’s quicker and more accurate to throw an edgefinder in the mill and drill a couple press-fit bearing holes compared to making a toolpath and doing it on the router. I admittedly haven’t come up with a reliable process to get press-fit level of tolerance on the CNC yet with our setup, so maybe that’s the difference maker. And a subject for another thread.

Our general funds revert to the main general fund if not used by the end of the fiscal year.

The extra money we have is from travel expenses that we no longer have. I’d let them carry over if I could but that is not an option.

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You’re absolutely right about not having a great experience with aluminum on our current machines.

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Try to set yourself up to be as successful as possible in the future:. Fill in gaps in your manufacturing side, and if not, stock up on tons of COTS and raw materials.

Capital equipment: CNC router(s) (such as the OMIO). lathe, milling machine (manual or CNC), arbor press, Baleigh sheet metal brakes and shears, etc.

Tooling and fixturing: Vises (Kurt for Bridgeport or CNC milling machines), lots and lots of end mills/cutters, drill bits, taps, cutting fluid, dial indicators, calipers, micrometer, parallels, etc.

COTS Parts and Hardware: Motors, gears, sprockets, chain, belts, shafts, spacers, shaft collars, bearings, etc.

Raw material: 0.062", 0.090", 0.125" 5052 aluminum sheet. 0.090", 0.125", 0.25" 6061 aluminum sheet. 1"x1" and 1"x2" extrusion (multiple wall thicknesses in both aluminum and polycarbonate). Aluminum angle and C-channel in various sizes and thicknesses. 0.020"/0.5mm, 0.062"/1.5mm, 0.125"/3mm, 0.25"/6mm polycarbonate sheets, 0.25" and 0.50" UHMW-PE sheets


Wow your burning money is more than our last two seasons worth of spending money

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It wasn’t always this way. Stick with it and you’ll get there. I did my fair share of hitting up thrift shops and garage sales for several years.