From bar stock to fasteners, bearing blocks to wheel spacers, the Grandville High School RoboDawgs continue to build their library of part designs which can be printed on the team’s 3D printers. For months, RoboDawg team members have been thinking about ways to use ABS plastic parts printed on their Makerbot 3D printers to improve the performance and reduce the weight of the robots they build for the FIRST Robotics Competition.
The FRC build season kicked off earlier this month, and the team has begun to print parts for this year’s robots. Once a desired part is identified, students create a 3D model of the part with SolidWorks software. (SolidWorks is a 3D Computer Aided Design package provided free to the team by sponsor Dassault Systemes – http://www.solidworks.com/) Then the drawing is transferred to MakerWare for final preparation before the part is actually printed on one of the team’s MakerBot Replicator 2X printers.
The Grandville Robotics & Engineering Center, home of the RoboDawgs and their 3D printing lab, has attracted a lot of attention from educators from around North America. Robotics teams and educators from more than a dozen schools in Canada and the United States have visited the RoboDawgs’ facility in person or via videoconference since the team added 3D printing capability last September. Grandville Superintendent Ron Caniff spent an afternoon with the RoboDawgs’ 3D printing group in November, learning about the team’s capabilities and talking about ways this technology could be integrated into Grandville High School’s class offerings. Dr. Robert Harrison, the President of Lake Michigan College, and Dr. Richard Weigel, Superintendent of Niles Community Schools, came together with coaches and students from a Niles robotics team to visit the RoboDawgs earlier this month. They had a chance to see the RoboDawgs’ 3D printing efforts and learn how this capability opened up new learning opportunities for Grandville High School students on the team.