Glen Risberger, Afiniac and Mentor to Gladstone Robotics
Glen Risberger really likes robots, so much so, that he has been a mentor of the Gladstone Robotics team (First Robotics Club #3131) for many years.
Looking to help take his team to the next level, Glen began looking for a 3D printer to create custom robot parts.
“There were lots of kits available. We decided that we would rather build robots than a 3D printer so we started investigating ones that were already built. We got really serious in October and November of 2012 and received a copy of Make Magazine’s Ultimate Guide To 3D Printing. It was obvious to us that the Afinia was our best choice.”
“The reviewers said that the Afinia was easy to set up and use. They were right – we were printing in about 20 minutes after opening the box.”
Gladstone Robotics is a high school robotics team participating in a program called FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). FIRST was founded in 1989 and has four divisions that cover grades ranging from Kindergarten to High School. FIRST introduces science, engineering and math to elementary school children and moves on to creating age-appropriate challenges for each level. Starting at age 9, the students are creating robots to solve challenges.
“Our most recent challenge was to build a robot that could toss a Frisbee, with accuracy, a specified distance. Most of our competitors based theirs on a pitching machine with counter-rotating wheels. We came up with a much simpler idea and based ours upon a skeet thrower, which serves a very similar function.”
“Our Afinia 3D printer really helped in the construction of our robot. We made the structure from square aluminum tubing, the assembly of which used to take 10 to 20 hours. Our students custom-designed a connection system that reduced our chassis build time by 90%. They also learned quite a bit about tensile strength and how to orient the pieces on the build platform to maximize each part’s performance.”
“The students also designed a 3D-printed adjustment assembly that allowed them to quickly adjust the robot during competition. They also learned that their ABS components did not need to be lubricated when they were in contact with metal parts.”
“During the 3 to 4 days of competition our Afinia printer was running 24 hours a day. We make so many adjustments to the robot and we can’t afford any downtime. That little printer always comes through for us.”
“We have fantastic sponsors that support our program. Intel, Boeing and Autodesk, to name a few. The folks at Autodesk offer 5 summer internships and get 40 or 50 applicants. Members of our team got 2 of them, because of their familiarity with Autodesk products and problem solving ability.”
Our outreach program has proven to be even more successful since we’ve added our 3D printer. We partner with our local Radio Shack and set up in front of their store at the strip mall. We really draw people in – they just love to see how the printer works and what the possibilities are. It’s been great for our recruitment effort.”
The local Community Education group got into the act. In the last 90 days they have delivered 30 3D printing classes – they are all full. They are four 2-hr sessions over 4 days.
Glen’s story is another testament to the power of 3D printing and its impact on the local community.