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In 1989, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded as a non-profit dedicated to inspiring young people to become leaders and innovators in science and technology. It currently offers four programs, for four age ranges, and engages kids in STEM subjects through competitions and other activities. The FIRST Robotics Competition is one of the non-profit’s bigger events, and challenges students in grades 9-12 to form teams of 25 or more and build and program robots to perform challenging tasks. The teams compete against others at local, regional and global levels.

The Union County Magnet High School has a student body of 298 students who learn how to use technology to solve problems in a project-based, interdisciplinary educational environment. It’s located on the campus of the Union County Vocational Technical School (UCVTS), whose FIRST Robotics Competition team, Team 1257, is composed of 40 students from the Union County, New Jersey vocational district. The students are a mix of those in traditional vocational programs and college preparatory programs, and many of them hail from the high school.

FRC Team 1257 was part of a challenge that was called FIRST Power Up, which asked students to build robots that placed boxes on scales. As part of the challenge, the team designed a functional pulley with an integrated sprocket and used a Rize One 3D printer to 3D print it in one piece, reducing the number of parts that would have otherwise been needed and minimizing the assembly required.

The pulley is operated by a cable; a 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, which 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 Gerstein, a technology teacher at UCMHS and faculty advisor and mentor to Team 1257. “Labeling was printed directly onto the end of the sprocket part to indicate which chain the students need to use to use with that sprocket. This avoided any confusion and potential malfunction.”

With the 3D printed pulley and sprocket part, Team 1257’s robot successfully collected multiple boxes, moved them across a gymnasium field, and lifted them to full extension – from 18 inches to 6 feet 6 inches – in just three seconds. Their record was nine boxes stacked in a single match. The maximum torque on the motor/gearing combination is approximately 60 ft/lbs, and it can stall this with no ill effect.

FRC Team 1257 used the same part at 40 official matches, including the District Championship, and in practice sessions, demonstrating how strong the 3D printed part was.

Another plus of the Rize One 3D printer is its safety: it emits no harmful VOCs and uses only safe, recyclable materials. It also doesn’t require any post-processing, meaning that students don’t have to be exposed to any potentially harmful solvents. Team 1257 is sold on the printer, and plans to use it again.

“Although the academic year is coming to a close, our Team never stops innovating,” said Gerstein. “A Sophomore student is currently designing the next generation pulley/sprocket part that will be printed on the Rize One 3D printer.”

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the comments below.

[Images: Rize]

 

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