Team Wiki: Mentor Discussions

Vince, Jeff,
Attach is listing from one of my employees of what it takes to do 3-D printing. Perhaps company would even donate printer to school or could be part of a grant proposal.
On my black berry and so I can't easily distribute to others.


-----Original Message-----
From: Harris, Russell W CTR (US)
Sent: Monday, September 23, 2013 9:46 AM
To: Adler, Eric D CIV (US)
Subject: 3D printer (UNCLASSIFIED)

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

Here's what we have:

Printer: Makerbot Replicator 2X will use all filament types and has 2 feed heads for combining colors, $2799

Filament: ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is tough and impact resistant. 1KG spools are $48 and will produce a lot of projects.
PLA (Polylactic acid) is a bioplastic also available in 1KG spools for $48.
PVA is a water soluble material which could be used as a support structure to be dissolved after printing your object. $90 per spool.

Software: We use SolidWorks (expensive) to produce the STL format files needed for printing. There are many others including free ones like Autodesk 123D, TinkerCAD, and an open source one called Blender. Visit the MakeBot website and look at the guides for 3D design "support\guides\getting started" for more.

Russ Harris


A colleague of mine recently purchased a Solidoodle for his house. The expensive one which makes 8"x8"x8" models is only $799. Something we should look into. I'm not sure if it combines colors, but I'm not sure we need that function for the team anyhow.


first, that's really an engineering kind of question and I've been trying to avoid those - I had hoped the engineering mentors would respond, but alas...

second, Eric has been excited about 3d printers for the last few weeks, apparently someone in his office has ordered one. As far as I know, he never said we could use one during last year's build.

third, I can't recall ever hearing anyone say during the history of the team, "if we only had a 3d printer..."

fourth, if we don't have the money to pay for competitions, then all the fancy tools and gadgets in the world won't much matter.
are the kids asking for a 3d printer? not that I've heard, but what do I know?



I agree with Jeff on all points. If we really need a 3D printer I believe we can use the one at BCCC.
external image cleardot.gif
If we ever need a 3D printer we can go to the Fab Lab at CCBC



Hello All,
I have not seen a need for a 3d printer in our competition. That being said, I also did not see a need for a camera on a cell phone.
If we had multiple teams in our robotic club and each team had to present an idea before we build then I can see a need for a 3d printer.
Here at my work we use the 3d printer to relay concepts to our engineers and managers.
It helps getting the idea across in a matter of seconds vs sketching and hand waving.
We make mockup of instruments for laying up complicated blankets and routing wire harnesses. These parts are made of plastic like materials.

If i were to recommend a 3d printer it will have to make parts in titanium and some kind of polymer. It is a laser sintering 3d printer.
Polymer for a quick demo and titanium for using on the robot.

Here is a 3 year old link about aerospace 3d printing.



I’m a terrible writer and I don’t know what these grant people want to see on an application to give us money, or the restrictions on how that money must be spent. But besides possibly using one at the BCCC, there are options out there on the Internet to have someone print it for you, for fairly cheap.

I was at DEFCON this year, and these MIT students used 3d printing to make duplicates of keys (from photographs) that supposedly were high security and harder to duplicate. They didn’t have a 3d printer, so they used a modeling language (free program, similar to C or C++ I think) to produce a model, then sent it off to Shapeways ( There are a variety of materials to choose from, for different price ranges. But they had a strong enough key that worked well for about $2 I think. They printed a really high quality one for $100.

So if focusing on 3d printing for the grant would make it more likely for us to get money, then maybe the option to use online print companies could be mentioned instead of buying a printer? Then we could use 3d printing as needed and use the rest of the money for competitions and travel? I don’t know if 3d printing IS needed, but with some cheap online possibilities, and if the students were willing to learn the modeling language, then maybe it would open up some possibilities?