Can metal be indentically custom shaped

Dear All,

I’m trying to get an official VEX response on this (if this is the wrong channel please kindly direct me to the correct one):

If I were to get steel, bend it exactly to how a C-channel would look, put the exact same amount of holes as a c-channel, and have it CNC-ed to the shape identically to a C-channel would this be legal? (The reason why I’m doing this is because its cheaper for me).

Under the VEX Rules for this competition it is stated:
“<R7> Robots are allowed the following additional “non-VEX” components:
b. Any parts which are identical to legal VEX parts. For the purposes of this rule, products which
are identical in all ways except for color are permissible. It is up to inspectors to determine
whether a component is “identical” to an official VEX component.”

To get an official answer -
Turning Point Q&A

My understanding of the rules is NO. You would not be allowed to do that. We have NEVER been allowed to manufacture our own metal pieces. That has changed for VEX U this year, but not for us in Middle or High School.

If it is identical, no one is going to ask or care.

The main reason, as I understand, is that Vex and the RECF want to maintain a level playing field so they require all of the teams to use parts from the same library. The only way they can guarantee that the parts are identical is to control the supply.

Most teams without some outside help couldn’t guarantee the material thickness, bend radius, product weight, and material finish - it would be too expensive to make actual identical metal parts not to mention impossible to inspect before an event.

This competition model is about seeing what students are capable of creating without a 3rd party providing an advantage.

Actually, as an EP, if a team is bringing in an illegal robot, then we do care.

I realize you’re looking for an official answer, but your question is a basic one. Clearly, you’re new to the VEX world. You can’t make VEX parts and then use them. The parts you make will not have gone through the same processes and inspections as the parts other teams are using. I’m not saying your parts would be inferior; they might well be much nicer. But what will be your recourse if an inspector turns you away at a competition?

I can’t see how it would be beneficial to put yourself into a position where you have to argue with inspectors that your non-VEX part is identical. It might be cheaper for you, but you might not get to play either.


The question at this point is if you can even tell if it was bought from the store or, to say it this way, “home-made”. I don’t agree with making your own stuff (with similar reasons as you’ve said) but if it’s so similar, but if it’s done well enough there’s a chance an inspector wouldn’t even be able to tell. I’ve never made any of my own steel/aluminum c-channels but on the VEX Store it tells you what finish they have and what material they are made of, and other things like hole size, thickness, and after a bit of a second look you would know that the center of each hole is half an inch away from each other.

In the end, its a try-at-your-own-risk sort of thing.

Have fun making square holes.

I am also an EP, and for me, it falls into the category of “non-issue”. If it is identical, i am not going to be doing any tensile strength tests to ensure they aren’t getting some imagined advantage. I could care less about people going through the extra effort to save themselves money even if they are technically breaking the letter of the law. If it is identical, and not providing them an advantage in competition, then they are following the spirit of the rules as far as i am concerned.

If you show up at one of our tournaments with your own shop-built VEX structural parts, you’ll very likely be turned away. We’ve had metallurgists, precision sheet metal designers, and metal finishing experts among our officials.

Beyond that, it would be very difficult to duplicate the look, fit, and finish of VEX parts with CNC. The differences between similar but not identical parts is usually quite stark. Tiny differences in metal composition and processing will make big differences in overall look.

No, in the end it’s against the rules to make your own parts. It’s even against the rules to subject VEX metal parts to processes meant to modify their properties, like hardening or tempering. This is both so that teams can’t gain an advantage from special processing, and for safety. Having a brittle metal part catastrophically fail in a competition would be a bad thing, so REC gets to make the rules.

If another team calls out the team for an illegal robot, you are going to ignore it? That will open up an interesting can of worms. Best to say, if you become aware of it, then you will act. Cherry picking which robot rules you enforce or not could lead to some unhappy teams.

Again, if it is identical, what exactly is an EP supposed to do? ask for the receipt? If it is different enough that another team feels the need to report it, and we can tell that it is modified, sure, disqualify them, make them replace the part, whatever is appropriate. If we can not tell the difference, then it does not matter if it is different.

this would solidly fall under the technically against the rules but basically impossible to police.

I do doubt that you can make milled parts cheaper than these stamped parts, or that they would be identical (squares are hard to mill)

If by some chance you manage this, I would not advertise it.

Unless it’s very clearly not vex metal what do you want us to do? Kids paint , anodize, place tape over it, and all sorts of weird stuff to their metal. It would be difficult to clearly say if someone made their own pieces. It becomes he said she said, and I don’t have time for that.

edit: with that said, this person’s time is likely better spent fundraising than trying to perfectly copy stamped metal parts on a mill.

As I mentioned, if I become aware that it has happened, then I must act on it. All you are raising is that you can mask, sure, but if you as sure it has happened, it must be enforced. That’s all.

A lot of people are fond of saying they can’t police, or enforce. The reality is you can if it is an issue.

My gut is that it won’t be an issue because it is not financially practical for metal.

Yeah, unless someone has access to a water jet. That’s the only way I can imagine that someone could perfectly reproduce a stamped part like this.

I could 100% see a water jet cutting back on material costs assuming you didn’t buy said water jet for that express purpose.

R7 states “Robots are allowed the following additional “non-VEX” components:”

“b. Any parts which are identical to legal VEX parts. For the purposes of this rule, products which are identical in all ways except for color are permissible. It is up to inspectors to determine whether a component is “identical” to an official VEX component.”

Where you have have a problem is that you would be violating patent law if you manufacture metal structure that is identical to Vex structure since their parent company holds a patent on that structural design with those size holes in those specific places.

One could make the argument that it is not against the game rules, but it is against the law.

only if he sold it. I could build a civic in my back yard and as long as I don’t profit from it Honda can’t touch me.

May want to check with an attorney on that. I am not one, but I have a friend who is a patent attorney and based on what he has said to me in the past, I am not sure your understanding is completely accurate. I will ask him the next time we have lunch for some clarification, though.

I’ll worry about it after the 10 years it would take to accomplish the task.

For example I could rebuild a 69 mustang from the ground up, but couldn’t commercially sell them. (Like Revology does)