3D Printed Field Elements

I never got around to showing this but earlier in the season we 3D printed a Skyrise base, Skyrise loader and post collars. The whole team was pretty excited about the idea of 3D printing field elements and we will more than likely be printing the elements for upcoming seasons.


That looks pretty good! Have you tried how the friction is on the base with sections? I could imagine that would be an issue if you wanted to use these elements with passive friction intakes.

Also, how strong are the collars/autoloader?

The base looks a little taller than the actual piece but it is still good use for practicing.

It’s really not much of a difference compared to the actual base.

We can bolt them down pretty tight and we’ve never broken one, even with the robot being aggressive with the posts.

The model is actually taken from the official field CAD distributed by VEX.

I don’t know maybe its the angle

This is really cool! Our school also has a 3D printer but its a mini version. Printing your own base would work well if your school or club had many teams practicing at once. Allowing for multiple robots to practice within interfering with other teams. How strong is the plastic? Can it withstand bumping and hitting?

Best regards!

Were you able to print without supports?

I am looking to print the same objects and I’m not sure if some of the overhangs are going to be too much for the printer to handle.

They can withstand all the forces that VEX robots could apply. We’ve also dropped the base a few times.

We didn’t use supports on either of the parts. However we had to modify the model by filling in the hollow areas.

How did you do this? I am not a CAD expert yet. Is it easily explainable?

I have a decent understanding of Autodesk Inventor, Sketchup, etc…I have been looking in Inventor and can’t figure it out.

We are good at assembling robots from existing parts, but not so good at creating/editing parts yet…

Any chance you could post the part files or better yet the .stl files?


So I printed the post brackets just fine. Copied them from the field CAD file provided by VEX. They print without any modification, other than flipping them upside down so the flat part prints first.

But the skyrise base is more difficult to print because in the model it has very thin walls which are not strong enough. I cannot figure out how to fill the hollow space in the model like you say you did.

Please help!

I used Autodesk Inventor to edit the model. But I created a sketch on the bottom face of the base and just extruded to the next surfaces.

I may be able to post a file later today.

Here’s the model of the skyrise base. It is in STEP format.

Thank you very much for posting the printable base. I already printed all the post clamps…now I can print us a skyrise base!

Update: I am printing my skyrise base right now! I will post some pictures of it, and the clamps we printed when completed.

I see a possible problem. the skyrise base is not yellow. Don’t laugh because I’m serious. A programmer might utilize a color sensor or line tracker to look at the base and this will probably not work unless the skyrise base is the right color.

Good point. But 3D printing software doesn’t usually accept files that contain color properties, so that’s up to the person installing the filament to choose the color.

It’s not really a problem for us because this file was created to be used internally, within our team, and not released. We didn’t use that technique to detect the base because we believe it is not the most efficient.

Print it and paint it yellow.

It would be interesting to see a game where the playing pieces were manufactured using 3D printers. VEX could just publish the .stl files and teams with access to a printer could have the parts in their hands shortly after the game was announced… and there would never be a worry about running out of parts, or shipping delays from VEX.

As 3D printers become more ubiquitous it would also be nice to allow a 3D printed part (to some specified maximum volume or mass) to be used on the robot.


This is already the case in VexU and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is also a part of VRC in the near future.

VEX would still have to ship the parts in addition to publishing the .stl files because 3D printers are rather expensive as of now not all teams will be able to afford them, especially home school teams that don’t have a school backing them up with it’s budget.

You don’t have to own a 3D printer to get a 3D printed part. http://www.shapeways.com/materials?li=nav

I’d probably start with the plastic, but Platinum would be nice, too.


(and you’ll note that the average VRC competition robot costs more than an entry-level 3D printer…)