How to paint vex metal?

Hi I want to spray paint my schools c channels and parts, but I don’t want to break any rules. What’s the best way to paint parts without breaking rules (like chipping paint off onto the field) while looking clean?

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Preparation is the key to good coating. Clean all metal parts with a solvent such as acetone (be sure to wear nitrile glove and use common-sense safety precautions). For plastic parts DON’T use solvent, it could melt them; instead, use detergent and water first, then clean water (on a rag, of course, don’t dunk them!). Next, select a good paint, such as Krylon Fusion, which can paint both metal and plastics. Apply several very light coats, vs. one heavy coat…follow instructions on paint can.

Other options, if your school has some long-term interest: Powder coating (look at for their inexpensive powder coating system, it works well), or for aluminum parts, see if there is an anodizing company nearby who would do a run of parts for you as an in-kind gift to your team.

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Sand and prime the parts first for good paint adhesion. Coat the parts well, and depending on the thickness of the paint you might need a couple coats. Finish off with a good clear coat, that always seals things up nicely and helps the finish be scratch resistant. If you do this you shouldn’t have any chipping.

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Thank you these options definitely sound reasonable

Do teams finish building their bot then dissemble it and paint for a cleaner look?

Yes. But if you don’t, at least remove motors, electronics, pneumatic components…these are better left unpainted, and makes future use better. When a team in our organization paints stuff, I usually end up dumping all their metal into recycle bin at end of season.

Anodizing or powder coating would require disassembly: anodizing can only do aluminum (not steel fasteners or anything), and powder coating requires heating to 400° which will melt plastic spacers, nylock nut inserts, etc.

If you want it to look good, then yes.

Alternative… build a bot. Then rebuild and paint if you have the parts for 2 concurrent bots. If you have to stop halfway… you still have a functioning bot.

Yes, you probably should disassemble in order to keep the parts you don’t want to paint uncontaminated, and also to be able to reach better places to pain the parts fully.