As the build season approaches, I am, along with other team members, building a bit of a CAD library of bases to use this year. However, I recently found the new line of VEX Pro stuff. I want to use their bearings, shafts, wheels, collars, sprockets, and ball shifters. Has anybody had any issues about them such as cracking wheels or deforming plates. Our team has run into cracking issues before, so I just want to make sure they don;t have the same issue. It seems like high quality, lightweight, relatively inexpensive stuff for us to use, I was just wondering if anybody had anything to look out for.
Note: Not trying to bash VEX, they always make high quality stuff.
The problem is that no one, outside of IFI, has ever touched any of the vex pro stuff. They haven’t shipped anything yet; we have ordered some products from them with the intent to get a feel of them before full utilizing them in our robot.
But that being said, I do expect everything to be solid the very least.
Historically, I have found IFI/VEX products to be mechanically beyond reproach, and the same goes for their customer service. We have had electrical issues before (not from the VEXPro line), mainly traced back to the parts’ foreign manufacture.
Since the VEXPro line is relatively new and publicly untested, it is a risk to use their systems. But, they’ve got some of the best & brightest on their staff, so it’s a calcluated risk.
Awesome. Their shifting gearboxes are so lightweight and well put together. Also, in the sprocket description, it says that they are “black anodized for superior performance”…Sounds like my kind of place
Historically speaking, few companies have launched brand new product lines without a few discoveries along the way.
When Vex (IFI at the time) first launched their wheels in 2006 they had some significant challenges. You can read about them here. Over the years, they made improvements and they’ve resulted in a reliable product.
It doesn’t just effect Vex. When Banebots launched a new kit gearbox, teams were picked by whether they used them or not. Their failure rate was just that high. Again, over the years they’ve rectified a majority of those challenges and have a quality product offering.
Vex has some incredible talent on their team, but even Apple, one of societies pillars for quality, who’s products “Just Work,” can have issues from time to time on new product launches. (Antenna gate anyone?)
I have faith that Paul, JVN and crew will work tirelessly to rectify any issues that arise but it is too early to tell what issues will arise and where.
The blower drive pulleys (toothed belt type) on the supercharger drive on my old Chevy are black anodized…it increases durability by several times, compared to non-anodized pulleys (30k miles with anodizing vs 10k without).
I’m not sure how this relates to robots…but don’t take such things too superficially.
At Peachtree 2011, I told Sean’s team that our robot was wrapped in racing tape*, which added ten horsepower. They picked us.
*Yes, Racing tape. That was what it was sold as–we picked it because it was close to garnet and we didn’t have a chance to paint before ship.
That said, there IS always a risk with new products; almost every launch of a new car comes with at least some service bulletins, software launches are usually followed a week or two later with a .1 update, and so on. But if anyone’s going to hit at least a double on the first at-bat, it’s the IFI crew.
For the First Community, Christmas came early this year. We have lots of new toys to play with. However, Be assured that We are one of the best destructive product testing groups around. Our new toys have had some testing but, have yet to see the abuse of a full season. If there are any weaknesses we will find them. Even if these products are perfectly designed there could be production defects waiting to be discovered. There no doubt will be a problem hear and there. Hopefully no disasters. Please, if a team does have a problem try and collect as much information on the problem and contact the vendor. Work with them. In the past There has been allot of venomous flaming of vendors who have had product problems. Please maintain professionalism.
FRC competitions are technical design challenges. With respect to COTS, the process boils down choosing the right product to meet specific design requirements. IFI has simply given the community another source, yet it’s an untested source. It’s really a tradeoff of cost vs risk of unknown quality, tbh. Some items are less risky (to my team, at least), so those are definitely under consideration. Others, maybe next year.
I have ordered some of the gears to test what VEX is calling a teflon infused ceramic coating, not to be confused with Anodizing.
Anodizing is utilized to produce a layer of Aluminum oxide within the original base material. Anodizing is a inclusive coating rather than additive , like paint. The controlled formation of the oxide produces a much harder, corrosion resistant surface than the origial base material. The oxide thickness in a Black Anodized part is typically .0005-.0008 inches thick. The oxide structure is comprised of millions of pores per square inch of material. These pores are what allow the dyes to absorb into the coating usually followed by a Nickel sealer. There are also Hard coat Anodizing processes that produce very hard wear resistant surfaces.
Teflon infused ceramic coatings are very hard wear resistant coatings. These additive coatings are typically used and very harsh abusive environments. These coatings are significantly harder than Anodized Aluminum. Generally these coatings are thermally applied thru use of flame or plasma operations. There are wet application processes with 700F cure temperatures that produce an advertised ceramic coating.
It sounds like they’re using ordinary Teflon-impregnated anodizing. Aluminum oxide, (a.k.a. alumina, Al[sub]2[/sub]O[sub]3[/sub], carborundum or sapphire) is a ceramic, although it is somewhat unconventional to describe it as such in these circumstances.
I doubt very much that they’re using a flame-sprayed ceramic coating. (What would be the point, and how do you apply Teflon at those temperatures?)
Interestingly, they’re apparently applying the coating after machining, given the claims of reduced friction (application after machining also tends to contraindicate a flame-sprayed ceramic in this application). Most high-quality anodized aluminum gears are made from 2024, and anodized before the teeth and bores are finished (i.e. the cut teeth are bare metal).