Personally, I think the best use for 3D printing parts is to create a part that does not exist within the vex design system, or to improve upon an existing part to better your overall design. I don’t really think there is too much benefit to printing a part that is a replica of an existing vex part.
Something I’d love is 3D Printing in HS, because it’d open up the possibility for me to use the tiniest, and seemingly most useful thing… When putting 2 motors together with 12 tooth metal gears, they need to mesh, right? but the 12 tooth gears aren’t big enough to have one on each motor, so you need three… I started designing for the new game today, and I realized that I wanted to do this, so I CADed 2 different things, a 3D Printable bearing that allows for the gears to line up (Pics To Come Tomorrow???) and a lexan plate that has the same use, but that would get destroyed much faster.
I’m pretty sure that VEX will allow 3D printed parts in high school competition as soon as the technology reaches a point where a decent quality 3D printer is affordable for the average consumer. Another option would be to allow a limited number of 3D printed parts in High School competition, but not for middle school. However, this may cause issues in states that have mixed middle school and high school competition, especially at the state championships.
I think especially in VexU it is a great tool that was greatly utilized this year and I can not wait to see what the teams do next year with it. I think 3-d printing will be allowed soon enough but things like resin printing would be even greater advantage then 3-d. 3-D printers are coming down in cost to where will a little fund raising even by the smallest teams will be able to afford. I do think there will have to be some sort of submission and approval system for all the parts being printed and that all the cad files be made public. That is just my 2 cents on the matter.
You have to remember that teams in the situation that I was in (I paid for everything on my team with my paychecks) can not drop $350 for a printer just yet and filament is a whole story in its self i would like to see TPE or PC filament being used for either flex or strong poly like items