Plastics Confusion

Hey guys, my team wants to use a lot of plastic on our new robot, mainly for wedges and skirts. I saw the rule that you can’t have an amount of plastic greater than 12"x24". But, I see teams like 606X have tons of it on the side. Can someone please explain the rule to me? It is R9 in the rulebook I believe.

You can use more as long as it is just cosmetic / doesn’t alter how the robot functions without it.


This is not true.

If you are referring to non-functional decoration, then yes.

But what the OP has mentioned are considered as functional, so there is a limit to the amount of polycarb sheets that can be used.


All the polycarb you use(excluding functional decoration) has to fit inside a 12"x24" rectangle. That doesn’t mean the combined area of all the polycarb you use has to be equal to the 12"x24" in area, it means if you took all the polycarb off of your robot you could fit it inside the 12"x24" rectangle.

If it can be removed and results in LITERALLY NO CHANGE to the function of the robot, whether defense, disc guides, etc, then it is decorative. Decorative has no limit.

Skirts are functional. Decorative panels that do nothing but be pretty do not contribute to your limit of fittin on a single 12"x24" sheet

The joys of gray area - so, lets say hypothetically I mount strips on either side of my robot (don’t worry I don’t build robots these days :slight_smile: ) to protect the robot from those pesky discs getting stuck inside. That is clearly functional (at least in my opinion, which only matters when I am referee). But the team goes to say they have 1 bars to hold it in place, so it is “decorative” as it is backed by one bars, so the plastic should not count towards plastic count. This may be the gray area of dispute. I suspect if the robot got inspected, and team complains, the best course is for referee to ask the team to remove the panels for remainder of tournament because if it is truly non-functional, it should have no impact on the team…

Hopefully, someone will ask this question in the official Q&A to get a clear response to this very common concern.


The 12x24 inch rule applies to functional plastic which, if removed, would not have to be replaced to have the same function on the robot(example: a wedge). You are allowed more if it is non-functional, like a decoration on the side of the robot which does not serve any purpose other than cosmetics.

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@lacsap This really is it. If you claim its decorative, and someone else can reasonably assume that it serves a function, you could just put a piece of structure behind it to negate that claim. If it could be removed and not change the way the robot functions, its decorative.

So if i install wedges on all sides of my robot (definitely over 12"x24" limit), I can’t say its non-functional because it is a defensive mechanism. But if I have it completely straight, (90 degrees) I can say its non-functional? Also, plastic on a catapult definitely count as functional right?

So the first part depends if it achieves a purpose in playing the game that can not be achieved without it, then functional. Second part, absolutely correct plastic used to guide game objects direction would definitely be functional.

Just back much of it with aluminum plating. Issues is that the poly is less friction than poly, and poly is better at shock absorption. You could just make metal armor with a poly scraper. 12"x2-3" x 4 = almost 12"x12" so thats half of your plastic allowance with just 3" skirts.

Also, I recommend checking out Delrin and HDPE. They, along with PC, are the best three plastics for various reasons worth investigating.