3D printer filament by VEX?


I just had a quick thought, but maybe VEX could do a partnership with a filament company, so VEX could make their own 3D printer filament. They could make the rules so teams would have to use this filament on their robots. 3D printers have been commercially available for a surprisingly long time, and I feel like the reason VEX HS does not allow 3D printed parts is that many teams would make their robot out of 3D printed parts only, so this will still give VEX some money, but also allow us HS teams to finally gain access to 3D printed parts.


The argument against it was never really money. (It really wouldn’t touch their bottom line)

They don’t think enough high schools have 3D printers for it to be fair.


True, but the cost of a 3D printer that can print the size of the maximum allowed size for VEX U could be less than that of a Cortex. And with the capabilities that something that price can offer,I think it’s well worth the money.


It’s not just about print size. I really don’t want to have this argument again (you can read up on it in a bunch of other threads), but

The problem is also about quality. Sure, you can buy a cheap 3D printer that will work, but it won’t really work well. You will always be able to buy a more expensive 3D printer that can print more accurately, print faster, make stronger parts, and be easier to use. All these factors can easily give teams with more money a competitive edge.

And there’s always the argument on how difficult it would be to have proper restrictions on printing.
A team with more money could opt to use a superior SLA printer, while everyone else would be stuck with FDM. Vex could create more restrictions, but then we have even more problems. For example, if there’s a rule that specifies which material the part can be made of, but not printed in a team with more money with a dual extrusion printer can print parts with water soluble support material, and possibly create a part that is impossible to make with a regular printer. And even if we do somehow get proper restrictions put in place, there’s just no way an inspector at an event will be able to verify that a team is following those restrictions without wasting considerable time and energy. (i.e. checking plastic type, layer height, SLA restrictions, etc)



Like the game manual suggests, you might have to show proof of purchase of the VEX filament. I totally get your argument, but however it’s done, HS teams really should be allowed to use 3D printed parts in the 2018-2019 year.


To play devil’s advocate: proof of purchase is not proof of use


Maybe they could limit the number of parts you could use, like 6 or 8 of VEX U-sized parts. You would use filament made of the legal plastics.


Then just make it a very ugly color that no one would sell filament in otherwise. Problem solved.


Haha, or they could even make the world’s first plaid color.


It would honestly cost VEX too much to rebrand filament for use in VRC. I’m not even mentioning them making their own because that is not their goal nor is it a good idea for them to do so. Creating filament isn’t perfect and it will definitely not be good enough for VRC usage if they started making some tomorrow, filament companies take years to make good filament, not days. It is also very nice in VEXU that there is no filament you have to use and when Printing is brought into HS VRC (eventually) it would hurt me to see that kind of restriction put on it.

On the 3D Printer side, yes there are options for $200 printers that teams could get, but would it be beneficial to all teams (especially new or potential teams) to see that now to do well in the competition that they have to shell out another $200 on top of team registration and travel costs. That isn’t even mentioning the money we will have to pay when V5 comes out to replace obsolete parts…

I am completely in favor of 3D Printing. I have two myself (which are both running as I write this), but the time is just not right in my opinion to bring it to High School VRC.


the quality between a well tuned 3D printer and really nice expensive 3D printer I don’t think is enough to give teams a significant competitive edge. true, dual extrusion can come in handy for parts that would be otherwise be impossible, however dual extrusion is not as expensive as you might think, it can be done with only 1 extruder and 1 hotend a servo and a few 3D printed parts. The next augment would be that teams with a bigger budget would still have a competitive edge due to access to more expensive filament like PVA for water soluble support material, but if that justifies disallowing 3D printing, shouldn’t aluminum also be banned since many teams can afford aluminum?


I think it’s more of a safety issue. The parts are not as good and will be more likely to break under pressure. More kids have a chance of getting hurt. By making their own parts they have quality control.


I think you highly over estimate the quality of VEX products, that or highly under estimate the the quality of prints even cheap 3D printers, or both.


You’ve got me curious… Perhaps you could create a stress test? Print a high strength gear and compare it to one from vex. Put them both on the same shaft and see which one breaks first. You could have them working against a 12 tooth metal gear that is locked in place.

Naturally, use extreme caution. As we are expecting a piece to shatter, have it under a protective hood or be in another room. Get a nice high speed camera.

Maybe VEX could do this for us???


Some of the materials that were allowed via this thread would almost certainly beat out VEX plastics. Such as Markforged prints on that thread. I encourage you to look up material data sheets on some of those materials versus injection molded plastics. https://vexforum.com/t/answered-vexu-allowed-3d-printing-materials/41470/1

PS: I have seen a piece of Markforged onyx that sustains a 60lb weight hanging from it continuously. The pieces come from a $12k plus printer.


print settings are also a factor, with bad enough print settings, basically any material would lose against the VEX gears.


I unfortunately don’t have the time or money as I am currently working on several different projects, and I only have PLA atm, and can’t really afford to destroy gears. however tests have been done to test the strength of different filament, of course it wouldn’t been tested against VEX parts but it does show how strong 3D printed parts can be.


That ties back to my opinion to not bring 3D Printing into VEX (yet). I repaired printers all summer for work and no matter what printer you may have ($200-$200k) there can still be a lack of knowledge that will render the printer useless. Which if you buy a $200 printer and never use it then that is a lot of metal you could buy with that same $200.