The 2006 FIRST Robotics Competition comes to a close with thousands of students gaining exposure to igus' plastic machinery components


The 2006 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition came to a close in Atlanta last month with 9,700 students gathering under the Georgia Dome for championship competitions, awards and festivities. The conclusion of the FIRST season also signified the second successful major product sponsorship and the first multinational sponsorship to a robotics competition for igus Inc., the leading developer of Energy Chain® cable carriers, Chainflex® continuous-flex cables, iglide® plastic bearings and DryLin® linear guide systems.

Igus announced in February it would donate Energy Chain, iglide, and DryLin as well as igubal® spherical bearings to more than 1,130 teams that hail from the U.S. and 6 other nations, including Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Israel, Mexico and the United Kingdom. The various components from igus were included in a kit of parts, which enables FIRST teams to design, build and program a robot to perform various functions. This year, students were challenged to “Aim High” by building a robot with autonomous, ball-collecting and ball-shooting capabilities for a basketball-like game that combines the robot’s muscles and the students’ smarts.

Igus and FIRST share a common vision. In early 2005, igus launched the Y.E.S. (Young Engineers Support) Program, to foster the mechanical design ideas of students with a passion for engineering by providing free product samples. By signing on as a supplier sponsor of FIRST, igus is able to aid FIRST in promoting science and technology among tens of thousands of students, while at the same time, educating FIRST participants about the merits and benefits of plastic components.

Thirty-three regional events took place leading up to the championship, giving igus the opportunity to see its components in action on FIRST robots. Students from Algonquin High School in Northborough, Mass. used iglide plastic bearings, igubal spherical bearings and DryLin S aluminum shafting to enable the shooting mechanism on their robot to fire game balls. By using igus’ plastic components, the Algonquin team also was able to significantly reduce the weight of its robot to meet crucial requirements set by FIRST. The team advanced to the quarterfinals at the N.H. regional before being eliminated, also adding the Johnson & Johnson Sportsmanship Award and the Daimler Chrysler Team Spirit Award to its list of honors for the season.

An N.H. team from Pinkerton Academy used iglide plastic bearings and igubal spherical bearings with DryLin S shafting in the ball-delivery system of its robot. The team also found an innovative use for a DryLin N linear guide system. The students used DryLin N to enable the brain of their robot to slide out for repairs, which made last-minute revamping an easy task.

Students from Tehachapi High School in Calif. contacted igus for products outside the FIRST kit. The team used a DryLin W linear guide system to create a sling-shot-style shooter with the ability to achieve consistent and repetitive aiming while shooting game balls. With the help of the specialized shooter, Tehachapi’s robot advanced to the championship.

At the finals, FIRST teams competed for the honor of top-ranked alliance, as well as a wide array of awards, including the esteemed Chairman’s Award, bestowed upon the team that best embodies the purpose of FIRST, the Rookie All-Star Award and the Engineering Inspiration Award. The victorious alliance included Utica Community Schools from Mich., Loyola High School from Quebec, Canada and McKee Vocational High School from N.Y.

Igus also is a product sponsor for other engineering competitions such as BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology), the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) Collegiate Design Series and the National Robotics Challenge (NRC).

About igus
Igus Inc., founded in 1985 and based in East Providence, R.I., develops and manufactures industry-leading plastic cable carriers, continuous-flex cables, plastic bearings and linear guide systems. With more than 28,000 products available from stock, the company meets the motion control and machinery component needs of customers worldwide. Product lines include Energy Chain Systems® to protect and house moving cables, Chainflex continuous-flex cables, iglide self-lubricating, oil-free, plastic bearings, DryLin linear guide systems and igubal spherical bearings.
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