Nylon and Aluminum Screws now Illegal

you’re probably right about the majority of competitors not even thinking about this issue, but the main thing that gets me here is that I have yet to see a single person actively support this decision. it didn’t harm teams before and this decision only brings negative consequences


I never thought I’d see the day when people are saying VEX is affordable




Or FTC where you have a 160 team World Championship because you can’t outshine FRC


Official star nylon screws from vex would sound nice, but I don’t know how sturdy those could be. I have a feeling that they might also start selling their own nylon screw (not thumbscrew) of some sort in the future.

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GDC: Anything not sold in VEX Competition Mega Super Kit is vrc illegal.

School board members, who despise students not wearing board approved uniforms, and think that the olny book appropriate for PTLW class is an 1897 edition of the Mechanical Engineering Bible: :clap: :clap: :clap:


So this is how liberty dies...

20 char.

Pre-requisite - see my post in the shoulder screw thread for some additional rambling about the concept of “additional functionality”.

There are two reasons why, and they are both stated in Xenon’s original post (as well as pointed out by many others).

1 - As a competitor, if I have the option between an unclear ruling that sometimes goes my way, or a clear ruling that I don’t like, I will almost always choose the latter. We can go back to vague and indeterminate responses if you want…

2 - Hopefully, it is obvious that “all top teams do this” and “this provides no additional functionality” cannot both be true.

Debating the merit of one screw material over another is kind of missing the root point.
I would venture to guess that someone who is upset by this ruling is probably also in favor of allowing 3D printed parts to be legal.


If you were to make this assumption about me you would find yourself sorely mistaken.

And aside from the merits of different kinds of screws, I find it significantly problematic when something that was previously legal becomes illegal. If you’re trying to make the “accessibility” argument, many teams already own buckets full of old screws and other such fully functional parts that are now completely worthless. I’m happy to debate opening up new things for use in VRC, but I find making components that were perfectly allowed illegal to be counterproductive, harmful to the community, and frankly quite silly.


I can’t believe the impudence of someone on the GDC talking this way. You are not speaking only to students but also to mentors and coaches, many who may have significant investments in these types of fasteners.


I appreciate you taking the time to read and respond to the complaints made about this recent manual update, but I’m afraid that my point seems to have been entirely missed.

I get that the commodity hardware rule is intended to be very limiting in nature. You imply that the gdc is tightening up, so to speak, on the wording of this rule that allow teams to take advantage. But why has the gdc determined that teams using things such as nylon and aluminum screws a problem that needs to be fixed? And why has it been at least 5 years since nylon screws became a commonly used part (I can recall them being used in itz, but they certainly may have been used even before that) for the gdc to determine that the “fix” for this “problem” was to impose limits on parts that were not formerly there?

You agree and understand that nylon screws have been a widely used and well established component on robots for many years. Did you consider the negative consequences banning them would have on the program?

Banning them hurts all the organizations who have invested in these screws, and have amassed a large quantity of them. These organizations have spend money on these products, under the assumption that parts that were fully legal and fully available one year would not suddenly be completely banned the next. It is harmful to a program to have this sort of instability when it comes to purchased parts. It is also extremely wasteful to ban perfectly good parts that were in perfectly good use.

It also hurts the ability of teams and individuals to make design decisions and experiment with material properties, a huge part of engineering. When I first saw teams using nylon screws and asked them about it, it really opened me up to the prospect of high-level optimizations. This gave me encouragement to look into the material properties of different screws and nuts, and optimize my robots accordingly, and I believe I gained a lot from that experience, and I would wager that many other people here could tell you a similar story.

It also hurts excellent and amazing third party vendors, namely Robosource, which had taken the freedoms given by commodity hardware rules and third party material rules to create an incredibly useful source for parts which are almost always better and cheaper than vex products. But now, all of the nylon and aluminum screws Robosource sells are now illegal for competition use. Next I expect the nylon and aluminum nuts to be banned. And then the alternative material and alternative size spacers and washers. Where does it stop, and where does that leave places like Robosource which I hold as a crucial part of the program?

Can you deny that these harmful effects are true?

Can you give a positive effect that this change might have on the program?
(no, stronger rule clarity does not count. I’m sorry, but no credit given for solving a problem that the gdc created with a solution worse than the problem)

you say that

and I agree, but our points do not seem to align.

My root point is that this change is bad for the vrc program. What is yours?


I want to start by saying I appreciate that you’re engaging the community here on this. And I definitely see why it made more sense to put a hard cutoff rather than continue to give those vague answers that didn’t really answer anything.

I’m going to operate under the assumption that it would be seen as an acceptable outcome that aluminum and nylon screws, when actually being used as screws, would continue to be permissible. I’m also going to assume that the vast majority of nonstandard screws were aluminum/nylon, somebody please correct me if there’s some other material I’d forgotten.

Given both of those, is there a reason nylon and aluminum (or at minimum just aluminum, I get that nylon might get into gray areas) were not also permissible?

Also, I’m in favor of legal 3D printing but understand it would create more potential issues than it’s probably worth, so I’m not like… super pro 3D printing or anything. I just don’t want teams to have to throw out a bunch of stuff and buy new stuff, or to have to tell a team they failed inspection because of screws that were legal last season and aren’t this season.


just over this past year, I have heard multiple orgs debate over if they want to keep doing vrc solely because of the instability of costs to compete, with this thrown in the way I have a feeling that at least one of the orgs will not be competing again and others are starting to lose interest, if we want to keep this a growing thing why to we keep punishing the people that others look up to and the people that want to play the game. banning prior legal materials especially when you can make them out of components sold by vex is pointless and just trying to flatten the competitive diversity we have in this sport. don’t we want people to learn in this, isn’t that the whole goal of the Vex Robotics Competition and other competitions, how will new teams learn if we keep trying to shut down the teams pushing the sport, we don’t want to vex to end up in a situation of no innovation do we?


And I would venture to guess that you are wrong. My organization is too small to have 3D printing abilities, and I feel as if making this legal would have an adverse affect for orgs like mine. But I do feel like banning nylon and aluminum screws as per the game manual update is a disservice to orgs like mine who have personally invested in said screws. The sudden shift in legality has made me question whether I want to do VRC any more, and is really making my fellow team mates and I question the sanity and rationality of the GDC members.


Not quite accessibility, non-standard hardware can occasionally be more expensive than standard hardware, although I could definitely see how it comes across that way. I was more referencing slippery slopes and difficulties with rule enforcement.

I actually totally agree - this is my personally desired outcome, and what we have tried to do for the past few years. But it has proved infeasible without opening floodgates of edge-case interpretations, loopholes, inspector confusion, etc.

Stronger rule clarity. No, seriously.

Unofficial hardware is one of the most inconsistently-handled items during inspection processes at tournaments around the world. Not to mention that it causes confusion during the design process when teams have to spend more time focusing on whether a screw is a screw than on engineering solutions to the game. Similarly, I am actually surprised that there are not more people posting about their experiences last season at events where nylon hardware was blanket-ruled illegal the day of the competition with no advance notice to teams, or some teams ruled legal but others not, etc. This was completely within those events’ discretionary abilities based on rulings made by the GDC at the time.

When we receive more questions for the VEX Worlds driver’s meeting about nylon screws than we do about SG3, and we have to script a whole portion of the video to attempt to explain screws… that’s when I start to think we need more rule clarity.


Most events I went to chose not to as a convenience to the teams present (or simply didn’t know/care to do so), although I have heard horror stories of teams in Cali having to make last minute screw switches after a head ref reversed his ruling on nylon screws (after reffing a regional championship a couple of weeks ago).

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I… strongly disagree. It should be fairly simple to propose a common-sense test that says, “is this a screw, and is it being used as a screw to screw things?”. But, then again, y’all’ve kinda used up all of your credit when it comes to common sense.


Could you clarify what interpretations and loopholes could not be clearly clarified as illegal, and ruined the spirit of vex enough to cause nylon and aluminum screws to be illegal?


Given this, would it be possible to amend the rule to

made of steel, stainless steel, aluminum, or nylon

From my recollection, the entirety of the confusion as to the legality of nylon/aluminum screws was “is saving weight introducing functionality” and so, if those materials were specifically listed out, it would simultaneously make it very clear that they’re intended to be allowed, and still prevent teams trying to use some more exotic material.

At least as far as I know, there’s never been a team who tried to use, say, a flexible “screw” as a hinge and the inspector wasn’t sure if that was introducing additional functionality, because it obviously would be. The only source of confusion has been “are you allowed to use nylon screws to save weight?”