FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a global, non-profit youth organization founded in 1989 to inspire young people to become science and technology leaders and innovators by engaging them in programs that build science, engineering and technology skills. The organization currently offers four programs, one of which is the FIRST Robotics Competition for children in grades 9-12 that encourages teams of 25 or more students to build and program robots to perform a set of challenging tasks in competitive teams at local, regional and global levels. In one competition, a 3D printed pulley gave the students an edge in the competition.
Located in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, on the Union County Vocational Technical School campus, the 298 ninth- to twelfth-grade students at the Union County Magnet High School (UCMHS) learn how to solve problems using technology in a project-based, interdisciplinary educational environment. A highly competitive school, only one-third of students who apply to the school are accepted.
UCVTS’ First Robotics Competition (FRC) Team 1257 is comprised of 40 students from the Union County, New Jersey vocational district. They represent a blend of students in both college preparatory and traditional vocational programs. Jackie Gerstein, a technology teacher at UCMHS, where most of the FRC Team 1257 students attend, is a faculty advisor and mentor of FRC Team 1257. She also focuses on the team’s design, programing and electronics sub teams, while Jackie’s husband Matt Hagan, 3D Print and Design Specialist at Merck, works with the team’s build sub team.
3D printing a pulley
FRC Team 1257 had a new competition, or “game,” to play in this year called FIRST Power Up, which entailed building robots that placed boxes on scales in competitive events.
The team designed and printed a functional pulley with an integrated sprocket. The pulley / sprocket part was printed in one piece on a Rize One 3D printer to reduce the number of parts and minimize part assembly required. The part is operated with a cable. The chain turns the sprocket that is built into the drum of the pulley. Students wind and unwind the assembly to lift and lower the robot’s elevator that holds the boxes.
“We chose the Rize One 3D printer to print the part due to Rize’s isotropic part strength and ink marking capability,” said Jackie. “Labeling was printed directly onto the end of the sprocket part to indicate which chain the students need to use with that sprocket. This avoided any confusion and potential malfunction.”
3D printed pulley lifts 18 in. to more than 6 ft in 3 sec
Using the Rize 3D printed pulley / sprocket part, FRC Team 1257’s robot successfully collected 4 lb boxes, moved them across a gymnasium field, lifted them to full extension – from 18 in. to 6 ft -6 in. — in 3 seconds. The robot stacked the boxes in a controlled manner to achieve whatever height the Team desired. Their record was 9 boxes stacked in a single match.
The maximum torque on the motor/gearing combination is approximately 60 ft/lb and it can stall this with no apparent ill effect.
Showing the unique isotropic strength of Rize 3D printed parts, FRC Team 1257 used the same part at 40 official matches, including the District Championship, and during practice sessions.
A focus on student safety
Nowhere is a completely safe, clean and easy-to-use 3D printer more important than with students. The Rize One desktop industrial 3D printer emits no VOCs and uses only safe and recyclable materials. Each component of Rize’s Rizium One material is FDA USP Class VI Certified. Since Rize One requires zero post-processing of parts following printing, FRC Team 1257 can get their parts 2X faster than other systems, while eliminating messy and harmful solvents.
Said Jackie, “Although the academic year is coming to a close, our Team never stops innovating. A Sophomore student is currently designing the next generation pulley/sprocket part that will be printed on the Rize One 3D printer.”