CNC-Milled Aluminum Parts Help a High School Robotics Team Improve Their Bots

Roboctopi, a high school robotics team from Escondido, California, attracted our attention on Instagram with their elegant aluminium robot parts. They added our Bantam Tools Desktop CNC Milling Machine to their toolbox earlier this year, allowing them to incorporate precise, long-lasting bespoke aluminium parts into their robots. In a nutshell, the competition should be on their guard. We spoke with them to find out more about their staff, tools, and development methods.
Tell us more about the Roboctopi team and the FIRST Tech Challenge. We also need to know where the name came from.

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Hello! We're Team Roboctopi, an Escondido, California-based high school community robotics team competing in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC). We have eight pupils and three adult mentors from three different school districts right now. We've spent the last three years competing in FIRST Robotics, honing our talents.

FIRST Tech Challenge teams must design, build, programme, and operate robots in an alliance format to participate in a head-to-head challenge. We build STEM skills, such as engineering design concepts and CAD, with the help of adult coaches and mentors (computer-aided design). This teaches us the importance of hard effort, ingenuity, and teamwork.

We've been able to do the following as a result of the programme:

Using Java and AI neural networks, learn advanced programming techniques.

While presenting our ideas, we can practise our presentation and interview abilities.

Our extensive engineering notebook will teach you about documentation principles.

Use our social media and fundraising tools to practise marketing.

Organize, attend, and promote STEM events in our community to better our community.

Prior to founding Roboctopi, we competed in the FIRST Lego League as Technimals. We'd been known as the squad with the unpronounceable name, so when we came up with Roboctopi, we figured we'd continue the tradition. We're also known for throwing in a lot of puns, so the name works on several levels. In case you were wondering, the right pronunciation is row-boc-toe-pie.

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What prompted you to incorporate CNC machining into your process? Before the Bantam Tools Desktop CNC Milling Machine, had the team used CNC machines?

We are continuously searching for sponsors to donate money, supplies, or tools as an independent high school robotics team. We've been fortunate enough to have a mentor who is willing to lend us a laser cutter and a Bantam Tools Desktop CNC Milling Machine, as well as many 3D printers that we've either bought or salvaged and fixed.

We use the laser cutter as often as possible because it is highly fast and allows us to quickly iterate and test different concepts. We usually test ideas in wood to save money until we're satisfied with the results, then remake plates in Delrin for added strength. 3D printers are typically used for mechanical parts that cannot be laser cut, however because printing parts takes a lengthy time, it necessitates greater lead time and planning.

Furthermore, because our robotics season lasts about six months and includes many league tournaments, our robot is subjected to a great deal of punishment and iterative changes as we collect data on our performance. We have to produce a lot of spare components because 3D printed parts frequently fail during competition.

 

For a long time, we've desired to be able to swiftly produce in metal. It gives us a lot more options when it comes to designing durable and reliable mechanisms. You can only do so much with hand tools and drills. We were able to quickly learn and incorporate a highly accurate and repeatable fabrication tool with superb guidance, outstanding software, and support.

All of these requirements are met by the Bantam Tools Desktop CNC Milling Machine. It's a fantastic tool to use.

You've been using the machine to grind a lot of aluminium parts for your robot. Is this the machine's primary purpose, or do you also use it to machine other materials and projects?

We can't talk about some of the things we've been working on just yet, but there's a lot of exciting stuff in the works for the upcoming season. It's currently being utilised just to fabricate aluminium components for our robots. Our tutor has graciously allowed us access to his lab and tools, including the laser and mill. We'd prefer to have a Bantam Tools Desktop CNC Milling Machine in our hidden hideaway so we could learn, experiment, and manufacture during late-night practises, but we're grateful to have any access at all.

About CAM (computer-aided manufacturing), machine tooling, and speeds and feeds, we still have a lot to learn. There's a lot to take in, but the Bantam Tools software and tutorials make it simple to go from complete beginners to creating our own precision metal components in just a few days.