What are some ways that VEX could bring 3D printed parts to VRC?

Hi everyone,

I think that there has been a lot of discussion over whether or not 3D printed parts should be legalized, such as this insightful post from last season.

Instead, I wanted to brainstorm what a theoretical implementation of 3D printed parts for VRC would look like.

I think that the most likely way that they will deliver and regulate 3D printed parts is through a weight limit and material verification. VEX would sell 250g rolls of red PLA flecked with UV-activated material to verify authenticity. Think similarly to the “granite” filament which HATCHBOX sells, which has grey and black flecks on white. This would make sure that the material would be up to VEX’s standards for safety, or whatever, and ensures that teams buy direct from them.

At inspection, teams would be asked to demonstrate that they are using genuine VEX pla by activating the uv material in the part, as well as weight all parts to prove they are not exceeding a weight limit for parts.

This implementation would make 3d printed parts a delicate balance between size, strength, and number, as it should be, while creating space for a VEX robotics product.

I feel like the biggest obstacle to this implementation is that there is no reason for VEX to come out with a product like this, unless they also offered 3D printers and training for education. Therefore, the RECF would not see a need to create rules about offering this new technology for use to teams. I may be wrong, as we are seeing educational lines like EXP split from VEX’s competition offerings.

I’m interested to hear what members of the vex forum have to say.

1 Like

It would be cool to have a glowy scuff controller
I’d prefer PETG or nylon if vex was going to make a filament
a vex 3D printer would probabaly cost around $1000 if they were going to make their own I’m guessing
I’m all for 3D printing tho

PETG or Nylon would necessitate enclosures, at least imo.
I think that if they do it in house, costs could definitely hit as high as $1000. However, I could see VEX partnering with a company like Flashforge or Makerbot to offer low cost solutions similar to ones I see in the classroom currently. I’d imagine that if this were the case size would likely be policed as well.

I wonder what inspection of 3d printed parts would look like.

  • I would like vex to allow 3D printing with their own filament and printer and a weight limit
  • I would like vex to allow 3D printing with their own filament and my own printer and a weight limit
  • I would like vex to allow 3D printing with a weight limit
  • I would like vex to allow 3D printing with their own filament and printer with no weight limit
  • I would like vex to allow 3D printing with their own filament and my own printer with no weight limit
  • I would like vex to allow 3D printing with no weight limit
  • I would not like vex to allow 3D printing
0 voters

Again?, How about limiting this discussion to once a year…

Keep in mind 2 things: (1) RECF makes the rules, not VEX, and they are a nonprofit. (2) VEX makes educational products, they do not make the rules, and the competitive robotics market is probably not a big driving force for their economic/business model.


I’m the person that started the June 2021 thread about 3D printing. It ran from June to August. So about 115 days ago.

Across the summer (and when that thread was alive) I had a number of conversations about 3D printing and VRC with a wide variety of people.

Since then I’ve taken the stance that I’m done with tilting at that windmill. It’s not going to happen in the next handful of years. I have other projects and other ideas that I can work on. So I’ve been focusing my energy to them.

This post was my last words on this Well, that isn't what I expected (flying parts edition) - #126 by Foster

While yearly threads keep it in peoples minds, I agree with @kmmohn.


I don’t think weight is a viable option for the limit. Either you’d need teams to remove all 3D printed parts from their robot for weighing, which is a nonstarter for several reasons, or you need them to print out a separate set of parts for weighing.

If we’re going so far as suggesting custom PLA with UV material embedded to verify it’s a legal material (which I do think is a pretty clever idea), we’re assuming teams are going to cheat. So it’s entirely possible teams would cheat the weight limit by either

  1. Having lighter and weaker weigh-in copies with less infill
  2. Using a two-head printer that fills the print with some exotic stronger per gram material, and just prints the outer shell in VEX material

An easier option would be a limit similar to in VEX U that’s size based. Say x number of pieces of a certain size, unlimited pieces below a certain size, or as many pieces as you can fit in a box of volume x. Something like that. Obviously for this you’d still need a separate set of measurement pieces, but it’s much easier to visually inspect that the measurement pieces are the same size as the actual pieces. That said, all of these would make inspection take a decent amount longer, which is not ideal.

I don’t know. I think 3D printing is awesome and would be a great way to teach students more CAD skills, but exotic materials can be rather unfair to less well funded teams so you need rules to keep the playing field level, and as a person who runs events, I don’t want inspection to suddenly become much longer. In any event, the GDC seems pretty set on not allowing 3D printing in the near-ish future, so it’s kind of a moot point.