Steel, Aluminum, or Lexan?

Just curious on how many teams use aluminum for their lift and intake systems.

Edit: if someone could add lexan/plastic to the title, that would be great. I thought about plastics at the last minute

We used strictly Aluminum to construct the actual part of the mechanism that went up. The weight ended up being an issue with 10-12 sacks in the mechanism. The shoulder it was mounted on was steel, I believe, so that it wouldn’t have any chance of bending. It’s been a while since we did that, so my memory is a little foggy.

We used some sort of plastic for the sacks to slide over once they were in the arm. It was smoother, lighter, and didn’t require nearly as much effort to cut.

If you’re using steel, switch. The difference is amazing. Aluminum lifts faster, stays up easier, and makes it harder to burn out your motors if you use your arm too much.

We use aluminum for obvious weight concerns, but it’s mainly for overall weight as the rubber bands, especially on 4 bars, make the weight of the intake a lot less important to lift speed.

Ideally, I would try to make an entire robot out of lexan.

Lexan is not only light, but it’s actually stronger than you think if you do it right. Last year, we made an entire structural framework for our intake chute out of Lexan by bending some pieces into c-channel shapes. Also, don’t forget that it’s totally customizable, so you can have holes in odd places which is good for tweaking an intake for optimal positioning. Finally, it looks awesome to have a partially transparent robot.

Just don’t go using the whole 12x24" sheet as one piece - that’s a waste of Lexan, heavy, and less structurally sound than using strategically placed strips and bars. It’s amazing how much you can make out of 12x24" if you really optimize (3 18" storage chutes on the Super Stacker, with a lot leftover).