Adventures in Science: Plastic Ant Combat Bot Chassis Design Tips

We bring back Jamie to give us some design tips when creating a 3D-printed plastic ant bot.

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Let's make a chassis for our bot! This week, we talk to Jamie Leben (IT Works, Loveland CreatorSpace) about some of his combat bot designs, and he even shares a wedge-based design for us to print ourselves.

The wedge is one of the simplest designs, having no active weapon. The idea is that you can get under your opponents to move them around (hopefully into arena hazards). Jamie builds on our cardboard box design from last time and adds a plastic, 3D-printed chassis. Jamie recommends keeping the wheels larger that the height of the robot so you can drive upside down. If you're confident in your driving ability, you may want to put most of your weight (e.g., battery, thicker plastic) toward the front in the wedge.

Jamie also mentions that keeping your electronics packed tightly inside the robot keeps everything safe. He recommends attaching the electronics to the chassis with servo tape. You'll also want to have a large, removable cover so you can build and repair your electronics. Weight permitting, you can secure the cover down with heat-set inserts.

Jamie leaves us with one more bit of wisdom: practice, practice, practice! Try to finish your design early so you can practice driving it, as that skill will be invaluable in the arena. You might also discover design flaws in your initial design, and one of the wonderful things about plastic ants is that you can tweak your design and print another bot in a few hours!

The design files for the wedge bot shown in the video can be found here.

Ready to compete? Check out the rules and registration info at

Comments 2 comments

  • Member #1130144 / about 7 years ago / 1


  • Sembazuru / about 7 years ago / 1

    First, I have no experience with making combat bots, so I may be way off base here....

    Ok, my thought for a defensive addition to the wedge design. A vertically mounted push/pull servo mounted off-center.

    • If you get flipped you could fire it up (well, in that case down, but robot reference up) to flip yourself back over. With the drive wheels larger than the bot is tall, you can drive away from the danger to give yourself space to try to flip back to "re-engage" the wedge weapon.
    • If you start to get into trouble you can fire it down to quickly get out of the way. It may flip you over, so see the above bullet point...
    • Bonus offensive feature, once you have your wedge under your opponent, fire it down to try to flip your opponent.

    I don't know if that will work, or if there is any room in the weight class for the addition of a strong solenoid (and the driver hardware). Feel free to experiment with my idea. (Though I doubt it is an original idea. If anyone has experience with this, please comment).

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