Friday, June 10, 2016

Making Props for the Junior Robocup

Above: Light Sabre Design
Learning Challenge: Create high quality props by 3D Printing for students use with their Junior Robocup competition entries.
Background: The school regularly competes in the Junior Robocup competition, including being the 2014 New Zealand and Australian Champions.  As part of their theatre competition the students integrate theatre and robotic performance.  A key part of this is the use of 'props' which previous have been made from materials such as cardboard.  Using the 3D Printers allowed the students to create more high end props for their performance.  Allowing the use of design to create parts to integrate - although students are forbidden from manufacturing actual robotic parts for use with the robots who would be disqualified if they did so, restricting the 3D Printing to creating props.
Task: Students in this robotic performance group have a 'Star Wars' themed act and performance and wanted to use the 3D printers to create the light sabres for use in the performance.
Above: The EV3 Robot with 'Light Sabre'
Level of Difficulty: Low the creation was consisting of two basic shapes and a button.
Issues: The size of the robots dictated the size of the light sabre - the students couldn't create a longer version of the light sabre because it would interfere with the arms movements that had been programme into it.  This was the first print run for the object and the students were very pleased with the results.
Time Frame: The print was completed on 'fast' settings and took 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Size: 2-3cm in diameter and 12cm in length.
Process: The Y8 students in the class (12 and 13 year olds) had a specific prop in mind to enhance their robots performance - having designed the 'Light Sabre' the process was limited by the programming that had already been in place for the movement of the light sabre.  Therefore the length of it was limited (as a longer blade would have interfered with the current programming of the hands of the robot for the performance).   The competition is in three weeks the prop part has been completed last (with the programming of the robot the main focus).  These students are the first time to utilize the 3D Printing possible to enhance the performance.  If the past is anything to go by this will have an energising affect on other groups who will then produce increasing complex designs for props.  The greatest limiting factor will be the timeframe and the programming of the robots prior with the design coming last.  One would anticipate that the 3D Printers will be used from the start of the process in future with increasing complex props.  


  1. All the best for the next comp Myles, creating the props looks like fun! Is the comp in Auckland?

    1. Yes the national finals this year at at Auckland, St Kents College. We have a regional competition first, which we usually enter about nine or ten teams. The top two usually go through to the finals from the Whanganui Competition. We've placed 3rd in 2015 and won the 2014 NZ/Australian Competition so its quite a big deal for our school. The students are only just starting to make the connection with the 3D Printer and a practical task how to deal with it. I would anticipate as I've stated in these posts the students have nearly finished the process and are now making the props they really should have utilised the 3D Printers at the start of the process which I am sure that they will do in the future as its the first year they've been able to use them. Thank you for your comment.

  2. Thanks for sharing the process via this blog Myles, sure it will be useful reference for others exploring 3D printing.

    1. Yes that was the intention with this site - I think there's a use for the 3D Printers but there needs to be the link between the learning and the technology which is not always easy. I know a lot of schools, and its not anyones fault, but I think Schools might not have sorted out how to print, how to clean the printers and how to best use them. Once again thank you so much for your comment and also for helping to publicise the site.