Members on a team must go through an extensive design process before building their robot to make sure that there are no flaws in the design. Heavy discussion should be held about each part so that there are no conflicts in the future.
Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
Computer-aided design, or CAD, is the use of computer software to assist in the designing and assembling of parts. Creating a full CAD model of the planned robot is very important to be sure that the exact dimensions of the machined robot will be correct and that everything will fit together properly.
There is a wide variety of CAD software available. For designing robots, Autodesk Inventor, SolidWorks, and PTC Creo are the some of the software available. All software has similar functionality, so it is up to the team to find the software they find most suitable. Lynbrook Robotics uses Autodesk Inventor heavily for our CAD process.
Lynbrook Robotics uses some interesting machines and tools. These machines and tools are useful for performing both typical and uncommon tasks and would be a good investment for any FIRST robotics team.
Personal Computer Numerical Control Mill (PCNC)
The CNC mill is a computerized machine tool that is programmable to machine parts. It can take a CAD file and use a computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software to convert it into a series of movements to create the part. It can save a lot of measuring time for a team. We have recently acquired a CNC mill. Read about our experiences here.
A mini-mill is used to mill and drill simple holes in materials. Using rotating knobs, the table can be manipulated in all three axis (X, Y, and Z). This allows for very precise measurements of hole positions.
A lathe is used to cut parts with symmetry over their rotational axis. Several operations can be performed on a lathe some include facing, drilling, boring, parting, turning, and knurling. We often use our lathe to cut slots for retraining clips, it also comes in handy for cutting precision spacers!
The drill press is a type of drill that is fixed to the table. There are handles that allow the drill to be pushed into the part. A drill press is more useful that a hand drill because it is easier to apply the drill into the material, and clamps can be used to secure the piece.
The bandsaw is a power tool consisting of a band of metal as the cutting blade. The blade runs at high speeds downwards, allowing cutting of a piece by pushing it through. A bandsaw is useful for cutting irregular shapes in many materials, including wood and metal.
A grinder is a machine that uses an abrasive disk or belt to grind and smooth parts. The speed of the disk or belt can be adjusted to fit the needs. A grinder can be useful for trimming the length of a part or to smooth an edge.