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When AndyMark, Inc. a company that invents and designs components for robotics and mobility applications, recently reviewed its catalog for components that could be improved, an aluminum 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 is a one-stop shop for specialized robotic parts as well as everything else needed by robotic builders and hobbyists around the world. The growing company now supplies components for robotic competitions such as those sponsored by FIRST – a non-profit organization 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.”
Baker had previous experience working with custom compounder RTP Company and sought their assistance again for a redesign of the aluminum gearbox. RTP Company engineers recommended using an RTP 200 Series very long fiber reinforced nylon 6/6 composite for the housing.
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.
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.”
About RTP Company
RTP Company, headquartered in Winona, Minn., is a global compounder of custom engineered thermoplastics. The company has 12 manufacturing plants on three continents, plus sales representatives throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia. RTP Company's engineers develop customized thermoplastic compounds in over
60 different engineering resin systems for applications requiring color, conductive, elastomeric, flame retardant, high temperature, structural, and wear resistant properties.
About AndyMark, Inc.
Founded in 2004, AndyMark, Inc. of Kokomo, IN, invents and designs components for robotics and mobility applications. For more information visit their website at
First was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. Based in Manchester, NH, public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.
More information: www.usfirst.org - www.andymark.com - www.rtpcompany.com