Redwood and Robotics

Posted: January 31, 2013 in Cool Projects, UHMW
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This project is not really a “how to” but is showcasing a neat little application a client of ours did (and was kind enough to supply us with pictures). Our Vancouver branch had been approached by Shaun Car, member of a UBC mechatronic (robotics) engineering group who needed to build a rover. The material had a few requirements: no moisture absorption, easy to machine and as cheap as possible. The students wanted 3 feet of 2″ diameter rod they could machine into track wheels and pulleys.

It is probably not a shock that we’re rarely approached about plastics for robot parts. So it was somewhat difficult to suggest a material. UHMW fit the needs as far as moisture resistance, price and machinability but there were concerns over its low coefficient of friction – would the UHMW be too slippery to be used as track wheels?

 Nylon was suggested as an alternative with its higher coefficient of friction. However, the students decided to go with UHMW in respect to their budget. Kudos to them as they pulled it off! For the track wheels and larger pulleys the UHMW worked fine, though at “high torque” levels the material was too slippery for the smaller pulleys but overall the material worked fine and the rover is a success.

The “moral” of this story is that engineering plastics serve a purpose solving problems big or small and can do so affordably to boot!


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