RTP Company's Very Long Fibre Composite Delivers for Robotics Gearbox

24 July 2012

When AndyMark recently reviewed its catalogue for components that could be improved, an aluminium gearbox kit captured its attention; co-founder Andy Baker, a trained mechanical engineer, believed the housing could be made with a reinforced plastic, which would mean fewer parts for easier assembly, reduced weight, and increased durability.

AndyMark says it is a one-stop shop for robotic parts as well as everything else needed by robotic builders and hobbyists around the world.  The company now supplies components for robotic competitions such as those sponsored by FIRST – a non-profit organisation that helps students compete for scholarship funds by building their own robots.

“Weight is a holy grail in these competitions,” explained Baker who is a volunteer mentor for FIRST competitions. “Everyone tries to get as much stuff on their robot as possible under the weight limit.”

AndyMark explains that Baker had previous experience working with custom compounder RTP Company and sought their assistance again for a redesign of the aluminium gearbox.  RTP Company engineers recommended using an RTP 200 Series very long fibre reinforced nylon 6/6 composite for the housing.

According to AndyMark, the resulting gearbox redesign, called the CIMpleBox, has fewer parts, surer assembly, superior durability and, best of all, is half a pound (0.25 kg) lighter in weight.  It is now the standard gearbox for all FIRST robot kits and more than 2,000 teams used it in 2011 competitions without a single failure.

The CIMpleBox kit costs about the same as the old one, which is no small concern for AndyMark.  “The kids who enter these competitions often run bake sales to earn the funds they need; we want to keep our prices at the lowest levels possible,” said Baker.

Baker continues to say that partnering with a full-service custom compounder was instrumental to the success of the redesigned gearboxes. “RTP Company provided us with tremendous technical support, their CAE engineers did a flow analysis and ran deformation studies of different materials under load to help us identify the best solution,” said Baker. “We are now working with them on redesigning another part, and look forward to working together more in the future.”

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