Thoughts on 3D printed parts

I think that the overall vex experience and game will be more intense and more interesting, also fun if we allow the use of 3d printed parts. There must be some limits to how much 3D printed materials you can use though, which could be really hard to establish in the vex book, since the 3d printed parts will come in all sizes and shapes and they will be harder to measure and stuff like that.

Can’t you 3d print parts as long as they are identical to the vex part in all ways except from color?

I think that in a limited fashion these could increase the design and originality we see.

Perhaps to limit them, you only get X number of individual parts, and each part can be larger than X by Y by Z
limiting the number of parts would force teams to carefully consider how they use it

While I think it would open the door for more originality in robot designs, I also see where VEX is coming from in their current ruling against 3D printed parts for teams, as not all school have access to a 3D printer yet. 3D printers are expensive, and it would leave any team that can’t afford to buy one at a disadvantage.

If I had to guess, I would say that this is probably not legal. Even if it was, what would be the advantage of 3D printing your own parts rather than buy them from VEX? Depending on how good your printer is, the VEX parts are probably better quality than anything you could print.

From what I have seen before, it is illegal to print parts and have them on your robot unless you are competing in VEXU.

this is illegal, the parts are not identical, having a part 3D printed, even if it was made of the same type of plastic, the act of 3D printing them changes the structural; properties

Rule <R7b.> would appear to make this legal, but has been clarified in the past that it is not.

Of course, the exception would be a part printed for use as a non-functional decoration.

I want to scream everytime I see people call 3d printers expensive. They are not. Most VEX teams are associated with schools. I teach in a school with only 80 students in the ENTIRE 7-12th grade. We have 2 computer labs with 20 Apple desktops each. That is 40 computers that cost $2000 each. Let me do the math for you. That is $80,000 just for computers in two labs in what is nearly the smallest school in the United States. We have a 3d printer. It costs $2000. Chump change to a school budget. It is all about priorities within a school.

I realize not all VEX teams are schools, and that school budgets are complicated…but the fact is that 3d printers are not expensive when it comes to a technology budget.

If we are going to call 3d printers expensive, then we all better just quit robotics, because robotics is “expensive”.

I’m currently working on a service that will offer extremely low cost 3D print/CNC options to VEX and FRC teams, more on that soon.