Poll: Part Cutting

I was able to set the poll so that teams can pick more than one option when voting.

My policy for running team 64 was that cutting steel was okay but any cuts to aluminum I wanted to see before it was cut. This slight burden incentivized coming up with a better way to build something without actually stopping the cuts that needed to happen.

Some times I would say “hey I know we have a part that long”
Other times I would say “this is on the chassis and your having tipping issues, use steal”
A good chunk of the time I would offer another way it could be designed that didn’t use the piece and if their justification was correct as to why their method was better than the first or second thing I thought of I would let them cut it.

The point is students will make cuts that aren’t necessary for the very last and final robot. But that is human. The goal though is to make that happen as rarely as possible without wasteing the mentor or the students time.

Maxx goes through aluminum like a rabid woodchuck in a furniture store. He acquired a 10" titanium table-saw blade ($69) and has been ripping metal all summer long. We could probably build an aluminum snowman out of the metal shavings…:smiley:

Premature metal cutting is expensive, and welding is illegal, so make sure you actually need to make those cuts. On the other hand, don’t let the fear of destroying a new piece of metal deter your progress. If it 's gotta be cut–then cut it. At this point, even as the pile of shavings rise, Robot Floyd III is 76 inches tall and (basically) ready for competition. Just be ultra-safe when you make those cuts–or you may end up needing robotic fingers…

I have several students that the woodchuck reference would apply to. We try to avoid cutting as much as possible, but in the last two years my band saw has had quite a work out. We try to recycle as much metal as possible, especially aluminum. I have to wipe away tears when we cut aluminum and my wallet screams in agony, but you do what you have to do to compete and be successful. After the length of time it took to get new 35 hole aluminum c-channels, watching them cut into them was not a happy moment for me. That being said, having two robots now that are over 70" when fully lifted and stable makes it all worth it.

+1 to this. Aluminum is handed out at our club after a steel prototype is made or a CAD design is shown due to the cost of materials.

This is the first year that we’ve been on our own, and as such, while we are cutting a ton of parts for our robot design, I try and make sure every cut part is worthwhile, and the best decision for the entire team. I spent months on our CAD project, trying as much as possible to make the design cost-effective and not too entirely complicated, but being able to cut parts has substantially opened up the possibilities of what we can design if we put our minds to it.

Our team runs it by our teacher and usually each other before we actually cut. Usually, we can find another piece that works well with the design with maybe a few modifications.

For example, our designe called for 4 1x5x1x6 c-channels, which would be fairly annoying to cut. We ended up using 4 1x5x1x5 c-channels and only had to modify our robot a little bit. Little things like these can go a long way in saving money for our club.

Of course, if there is a piece that we absolutely need and have to cut, we will do it, but again, we make sure everyone is okay with it before we do.

Our club has a plethora of random cut parts, especially bars, that turn out to be very useful at times. This allows us to avoid having to cut too much.

One tip: don’t cut standoffs longer than 1 inch! One of our club members cut a bunch of standoffs and found out that they weren’t hollow.:eek:

I tell my kids not to cut any parts. And yet every year they do it anyway. If they cut the parts completely through, then I dry out those parts in our toaster oven and mount them to the wall next to the Dremel station to serve as little reminders to keep their hands away from the blades. Fingers, thumbs, even a nose tip or two - the collection next to the saw blade grows every year.

Depends on the surgeon. Some are better at reattachment than others.


The way that I look at it, you’re always going to have a use for cut parts. Even building a 70-whatever-inch robot is occasionally going to require you to look for that one 4-inch C-channel. Obviously, Skyrise is a height-intensive game, so we’re more careful about thinking before cutting, but in general our philosophy is that “if it’s needed, it’s needed.” We won’t hesitate to cut a part just to keep its length in tact, if it would make a mechanism more efficient.

Okay. This has always been my issue.

Because my mentor runs three engineering classes and he provides robotics for 100+ students, he never supported part cutting. He does, however, allow it if he sees our design, but negotiating about part cutting is never easy in my team.

Last year I was not allowed to cut parts because I did not design my robot in computer, so he was not sure whether that was necessary or not. I built my toss up robot completely out of steel standard parts except a few already cut pieces. But this year I am designing everything out in computer and I am also trying to reduce unnecessary cutting. But still, a lot of customized parts are created to achieve the best possible design. This will be one of the obstacles we will face.

My poinion is, try to reduce cutting, but never ever let it hinder your design. Parts are there to be used in the most effective way.

As Kevin_Team427 said, the answer is definitely “too much.”

We cut a LOT of parts during the design process, usually because the builders are the ones designing and think out how they want to do something along the way. If there was a way to cut down on the waste, we probably would, but constant experimentation is what has helped us come up with some really cool ideas before.

Proof of what I mean - we unfortunately significantly cut 4 large aluminum c-channels in the design process of our original drive idea for this season. The idea worked great and was exactly what we wanted, but the designers changed their minds and 40 hours of work or so into the project we changed what type of drive we wanted pretty much completely and had to scrap the pieces along with the design.

As a mentor I am always torn when a student asks me about cutting a part. I want to make sure we keep a supply of parts viable for the future, but I also understand that some perfectly good designs require cuts. My reaction to their requests probably seems like annoyance, but I am usually just trying to figure out how cutting that part will affect future teams and balancing it against the possibility that the cut will end up not being needed as the design changes.

My team really doesn’t cut parts that much. Only if there is no other way for it to work. Money is also kinda tight so we really can’t afford to replace parts too much. However we do bend parts all the time. My personal opinion is that cutting parts only works once. (Depending on how you cut them) If you think about it, that cut part can A) never be undone and B) It will only work for that one thing, the reason you cut it in the first place.

If we do cut, it is always discussed and planed out in CAD first, for reasons stated above.

You can definitely used cut parts over again. There’s no reason why a 20-hole long c-channel is any less useful than a 25-hole long one. If you thought it would be useful in one design, it will probably be useful in a later design as well.

So why not design part cuts that CAN be reused? For example, cutting a c-channel into two angle pieces. Those have a wide variety of applications besides what they were initially used for. When I hear people say that part cutting will remove the reuseability of the parts, I think it depends on what is being cut. Now, say for example you’re cutting a metal plate into a crazy jagged, jigsaw-esque sharp thing, but it’s being used effectively in a design, there I can understand when the reuseability becomes an issue.