Coloring robot

Ok ik it’s too early in the season to be worried about ascetics but what’s the best way to color metal. The two “right” ways to do it are anodizing and powder coating, and then there’s plastidip and of course spray paint. Plastidip and spray paint come off over time tho.

Anodizing is sort of expensive I think, and nobody has vats of battery acid sitting around so you can’t really do it yourself. Powder coating can be done at home with a 50$ sprayer and air compressor but you need to buy a toaster oven cause using the one in your kitchen causes all sorts of chemical food incidents.

I don’t have any experience in this area but I know lots of teams (generally for worlds) color their robots. What’s the most cost effective way to do this that still results in a lasting product?

It would also be super cool to see some pictures of past year robots if anyone wants to show off their teams coloring schemes and stuff.

I would advise against plastidip for surfaces that will contact game objects as you are changing the properties of the metal (coefficient of friction)… It would likely fail inspection - you can ask the Official Q&A if you want an official answer.


If you dot this be aware of R12 particular of point E Make sure the coloring is a different colour then red blue green orange or purple as otherwise you might distract vision sensor


Decorations are allowed. Teams may add non-functional decorations, provided that they do not
affect Robot performance in any significant way or affect the outcome of the Match. These decorations
must be in the spirit of the competition. Inspectors will have final say in what is considered “non-functional”. Unless otherwise specified below, non-functional decorations are governed by all standard
Robot rules.
In order to be “non-functional,” any guards, decals, or other decorations must be backed by legal
materials that provide the same functionality. For example, if your Robot has a giant decal that prevents
Cubes from falling out of the Robot, the decal must be backed by VEX material that would also prevent
the Cubes from falling out.
a. Anodizing and painting of parts is considered a legal nonfunctional decoration.
b. If using the VEX speaker (276-1504), the chosen audio must not be distracting and must be in
good taste. The Head Inspector and Head Referee will make the final decision on the appropriateness of the audio.
c. Small cameras are permitted as non-functional decorations, provided that any transmitting
functions or wireless communications are disabled. Unusually large cameras being used as
ballast are not permitted.
d. VEX motors, or components of VEX motors, may not be used as non-functional decorations.
e. Decorations that visually mimic field elements or could otherwise interfere with an opponent’s
Vision Sensor are considered functional and are not permitted. This includes lights, such as the
VEX Flashlight. The Head Inspector and Head Referee will make the final decision on whether a
given decoration or mechanism violates this rule.
f. Internal power sources (e.g. for a small blinking light) are permitted, provided that no other rules
are violated and this source only provides power to the non-functional decoration (e.g. does not
directly or indirectly influence any functional portions of the Robot).
g. Decorations which provide feedback to the Robot (e.g. by influencing legal sensors) or to Drive
Team Members (e.g. status indicators) would be considered “functional” and are not permitted.

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Didn’t even think about that but great point. Too bad there isn’t much use for vision sensor this year, and yea plastidip is just always a nono. Anyone have experience with anodizing or powder coating?

I would not recommend powdercoating as it adds thickness to the metal which would make holes all but useless for the most part.

Anodizing is not actually that hard to do at home (though doing a good job can be semi-tricky). You don’t need “vats of battery acid” lying around your house. Take a trip to your local car parts/mechanic shop or (I haven’t checked) perhaps hardware stores will have sulfuric acid in stock. In my opinion a fairly good way to get anodizing done is to find a company nearby to either sponsor you or to get all of your aluminum parts done en masse (100 c-channels, for instance) which shouldn’t be too prohibitively expensive since most anodizing places will want to do bigger batches.

Generally speaking you’ll want to spray paint metal individually for the cheapest/lowest effort results. Spray paint lasts reasonably well; I know a fair few teams who use spray paint religiously and their robots look great for just about the whole season (a few chips is obviously a given, but with the right procedure you should be fine)


Google says powder coating adds about 0.006 inches of material so not significant enough to render holes useless. In fact it might help to straighten things out a bit due to the fact that the screws have a lot of wiggle room in the standard holes anyway. This might affect items that nest inside holes such as pillow blocks or motors, but I doubt it.

Good to know that it’s not terribly hard to anodize at home I hadn’t looked into it in depth. Either way it’s nasty stuff to work with leaving it to the pros might be the best bet.

It’s interesting that many teams spray paint I thought that was frowned upon but definitely the cheapest and easiest way to color. Maybe a color coat and then a clear coat can sustain the wear and tear of the season just as well as anodizing/powder coating!


Sharpies and crayons work best imo


Expanding on what you said

It’s also very temperamental to work with, I have tried to paint a car with plasti dip (long story short it didn’t go well)

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