VEX Cost Reductions

In one of the other forum posts, @lavenderlimeade suggested that we go ahead and create this forum. This post is meant for people to come up with and contribute ways to make VEX cheaper for all teams, new and old. For example, fields can be very expensive but essential for any competitive vex team.


You could buy foam tiles the same size as the ones Vex sells for about 50$ cheaper on other websites and neglect the field border entirely. That would reduce the cost of a starting field to around 150$, but you still need the field elements


First on my list would be “field perimeters are NOT essential for a competitive vex team - don’t waste your money!”. They are nice to have, and great to work towards long-term if you plan to be involved in Vex for many years, or are part of a larger group that will continue onwards many years, or have a lot of funding. However, one of the largest and most immediate cost savings we had was to spend about $100 on a homemade wood field perimeter (an immediate savings of about $700!). We have been able to be competitive the last 2 years using that field (going to State both years and Worlds last year). The one we made was also a much more solid field perimeter than the official one and it held up well to the random people who kept standing on the edge… lol.

Buy cheaper field tiles online and save some money as well.

For metal cost savings - do a CAD design if possible (it’s free, but can be difficult!) so that you only buy & cut exactly what your design needs. If not CAD, at least do a prototype in a cheap material like cardboard. Also, make absolutely sure that you double (and triple) measure before cutting; it’s irritating having 1 full piece left of a nice pack of aluminum c channels and accidentally cutting that last one a bit too short (we’ve had to just tack on extra pieces for the added length so a whole new pack didn’t need purchasing sometimes). Make sure to search for already-cut pieces before chopping down big ones!

ETA - I do find field elements are extremely useful for high-level competition design / practice & we always do buy the full field element kit. However, I know that some very competitive teams have made due with minimal elements, so even that is a “learn to work within your resources” thing!


Be sure to use the non-vex resources that are available and legal. has the best prices on most aluminum standoffs (escpecially the long ones), just be sure to search for the right ones (aluminum, female-female,1/4" hex, 8-32 thread), and don’t get a non-vex length.

For a wide variety of legal stuff at good prices, including plastic, wire management, pre-cut 1x1 angles, high strength lock bars, fasteners, cables, and tools, look at

For pneumatics (if you’re ordering a lot), has parts, but you have to search by the SMC part numbers, for example is an air tank, is a pneumatic cylinder, etc. Sometimes there is surplus part available at a discount.

Anti-slip mat is at Lowe’s, Home Depot, etc. Fasteners used to be cheaper from industrial suppliers, but now VEX has a good deal on their star screws, and it’s hard to find anything cheaper, except nylock nuts (from McMaster or Robosource)


Certain field elements such as the cubes can be 3D printed, if a team already has access to a high quality 3D printer. Otherwise purchasing is likely more efficient. Teams can also refrain from using official Vex elastics and instead use more cost efficient ones, as rubber bands quite frequently need to be replaced, as they are wearable. And the robot will loose precision if they are used for long periods of time.

buy ur own stack of like 5oo rubberbands (this also applys for iq)

But they should be good quality, since bad quality ones will likely drive you back.

Also the correct size, you won’t pass inspection if the bands or latex tubing isn’t the right size.

True but most elastics taht look the same as the Vex ones are the same, it’s the standard size elastics for wrapping newspapers. (If you know what I mean)

i have a big box of good legal ones i think they were on amazon

I’ve heard alliance rubber bands are recommended. You can get #32 and #64

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same thing with zip ties

From what I’ve seen zipties are usaully in two standard sizes the same as the ones included in the Vex V5 kit. But the set comes with 600 of the small ones, so it would be hard to run out.

What is the most commonly used CAD by vex teams(please include a link for download)?
Also, what CAD would you recommend for someone with a mac?

I dont have any statistics to back this up, but Autodesk Inventor is probably the most commonly used CAD program. You can get it for free if you’re a student from, unfortunately it isn’t mac compatible. For macs, Autodesk Fusion seems to be popular. You can also find that at


yeah its free if u can act like a student but i thought fusion was not a cad program

Fusion 360 is absolutely a cad program. Cad simply stands for computer-aided design.

My old high school team recently switched to onshape since a lot of us run macOS. It runs in-browser and we’ve found it to be much easier to use than fusion since it includes snap points in all the holes. When we tried fusion we had to add points by hand through sketches.


One way to save money on tiles/field, i would suggest building your own field, VEX even has a blueprint that you can follow to make your own field. As far as the foam tiles go, if you have any connections with other orginizations/teams ask them if they have an extra set of tiles. If they do, most likely you will be able to get them for pretty cheap.

sry my b i was thinking about blender but fusion is a type of blender.
im dumb sry i use autodesk and mixed up the 2
what i was talking about


Oh my. In that case all I can say is that I absolutely adore what just transpired. :​D