Robotics Education & Competition Foundation
Inspiring students, one robot at a time.

VEX Pneumatic Rotary Union


Entry ID #: 2569
Created: Wed, Jan 13, 2016 4:03 AM

Introducing the VEX: Pneumatic Rotary Union, designed to bring a whole new range of possibilities and opportunities to VEX Robotics Competitions and secular robotics pursuits. Before the application of this part, one could not power and pneumatic actuators on any rotating part, as the tubes would become toggled and damaged. This Rotating union has two parts that can spin infinitely and separately without losing any pneumatic pressure. This is achieved by using multiple sets of O rings – rubber rings – to keep air pressure constant between the shaft and housing parts. In addition, two sealed steal bearings reduce friction between the shaft and housing parts. The inside diameters of the bearings are adhered to the shaft, and the outside diameters are adhered to the housing. Lastly, this device can be attached to one’s robot by using the axle slot in the center of the shaft part, or by attaching the two VEX grids and bolting into place. The applications of this device are limitless, all depending on how creative one is when applying it. The primary purpose is to create pneumatic actuators on already spinning or rotating parts. With a bit of engineering and math, one can create a rotating collector that can change its collection radius. Wheels can now have a part sticking out of them, maybe to herd balls or press buttons. It can even be applied to gears, creating a design where an actuator retracts/extends from one rotating gear to another, creating a partial manual transmission. The opportunities are endless! To create this device, we used Autodesk Inventor. Learning how to use this program was very enjoyable and lots of fun, as simple mechanics such as extruding circles and rectangles can lead to very complex models. On top of this, Inventor has a beautiful way to display your model, as seen in the attached drawing files and rendered image. Team 99200Z will definitely continue to use our new knowledge of 3D modeling and Autodesk Inventor to create more prototypes and assemble full robots inside the program. When combined with a 3D Printer, you can prototype never before possible ideas! You can test out custom gears, custom wheels, everything and anything that you wish you had for your robotics competition can now be materialized after learning how to use something like Autodesk Inventor and a 3d Printer. Team 99200Z is very grateful for VEX, REC, and Autodesk for providing such a wonderful challenge for us to learn and compete in!


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