Plastic Bushings Are the Backbone of Students' Robot

The 21st annual FIRST® Robotics Championship came to a close on April 28th in the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, MO.

More than 30,000 fans, families, educators and industry leaders gathered for the week-long event, which celebrated the engineering and robotics accomplishments of more than 600 student teams from all over the globe. igus®, a diamond-level sponsor for the organization, donated Energy Chain® cable carriers, iglide® plastic bushings, igubal® spherical bearings and DryLin® linear bearings and guides at the season's kick-off.

This year's FRC challenge, "Rebound RumbleSM", pitted two alliances of three teams each against one another to shoot as many foam basketballs as possible into various hoops located on the field. Balls scored in higher hoops were worth more points and bonus points were awarded to alliances that balanced their robots on bridges at the end of the match.

igus' Energy Chain cable carriers are ideal for preventing cables from snagging on competitors' robots, while its plastic bushings, spherical bearings and linear guides can be used anywhere on the machines to facilitate motion.

The Robohawks team from L.C. Bird High School in Va. has been using igus products on FRC robots for years. For the 2012 competition, the Robohawks used Energy Chain cable carriers to protect its robot's cables, as well as iglide plastic bushings and DryLin aluminum shafting, which they called the "backbone" of a ball-acquisition and conveyance system. The device, a series of high-speed rollers operating at up to 1,000 rotations per minute (RPMs), was designed to pick up and lob basketball game pieces into the scoring hoops.

"The combination of iglide plastic bushings and aluminum shafting from igus performed very well and were 100 percent reliable during our 40 or so matches. We're already looking forward to next year's competition and using igus products again," said Paul Elkovich, lead FRC mentor for the team.

Another veteran FRC team from Berlin High School / McGee Middle School in Conn. also used products from igus. igubal flange bearings were used to facilitate motion for a roller assembly, which conveys balls from the floor into the robot's shooting mechanism. igubal bearings were an ideal choice because they are self-aligning and lightweight. igubal rod ends were also used in the robot's drive system to lift up a wheel assembly attached to a pneumatic actuator, while a DryLin linear guide system enabled the extension of a scoring mechanism.

"We wanted to use lightweight components rather than brass or steel bearings. igus' plastic bearings allowed us the keep the weight of the robot down with zero percent failure," said FRC mentor, Paul Griswold.

If you are a student, educator or robotics mentor interested in requesting free product donations from igus, visit

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