FIRST® Choice Adds Additives

Blog Date: 
Friday, November 22, 2013 - 17:41

It’s true. 3D printers will be available in FIRST Choice. See the information below from Kate and Collin, our Kit of Parts team:

Hopefully you’re all aware that FIRST Choice opens up for window shopping this Monday, 11/25! Our objective is to fortify the FIRST Choice inventory more and more every year so that it adds value to Teams in ways we never could have with the Kickoff Kit model of distribution alone.

This year, we’re very excited to announce that an impressive group of representatives from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, America Makes (formerly NAMII), MakerBot, TNFIRST, 3D Systems, and MakerGear have stepped up to get more than 400 3D printers available to teams via FIRST Choice. There will be 3D Printer kits as well as turn-key printers. You’ll have to wait for the window shopping to get further details about the makes, models, specs, exact inventory levels, etc.

The “street price” of these printers far exceeds the value of other items in FIRST Choice. For that reason, we’re going to treat the logistics of assigning them to Teams differently.

First, you should know that the credit value for the printers will be set at the total number of credits issued for both the first and second rounds of credit distribution, 150 credits on December 14th and 450 credits at Kickoff respectively. This means that if you get a printer, you forfeit anything else in FIRST Choice. Second, the determination of who gets a printer will not be a straight-up first-come-first-serve process. Here’s the plan…

    • December 14th, noon Eastern: FIRST Choice will open to take orders. If a team selects a 3D printer, they’ll be required to indicate their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice selections for printers. All of their credits will be consumed and they will be put in the 3D Printer lottery.
    • December 16th, 8am Eastern: The lottery model expires, and we will pull the report of teams that opted for printers.
      • If demand > inventory, then we will randomly select the teams that will be sent the printers (applying preferences as much as possible). For teams that didn’t get selected via the lottery, their credits will be re-granted at noon, Eastern, on 12/16, and they will once again be eligible to receive the second round of credit distribution at Kickoff.
      • If demand ≤ inventory, everyone who selected the printer will be sent a printer (applying preferences as much as possible), and any remaining printers will remain in FIRST Choice.
      • If demand << inventory, everyone who selected the printer will be sent a printer (applying preferences as much as possible), and any remaining printers will remain in FIRST Choice. If inventory continues to remain, we may consider decreasing the number of credits required at Kickoff. In this case, teams who had already selected printers will be reimbursed the credit difference. 
      • Please note that for all scenarios above, Teams may not get their… well… first choice.

This process is being adopted for the printers because we hope for high demand and we want to mitigate the frantic grab at printers and frustration for those who may click 3 milliseconds late (or they’re located slightly farther away than the next Team).

Another way to think about it? You’re offering all your credits for 48 hours, as collateral, to get a 3D printer lottery ticket in a lottery where the odds are unknown (because they’re dependent on how many other teams actually decide they also want a printer). If you get a printer, your credits are gone (and you will not be issued additional credits at Kickoff). If you don’t get a printer, your credits are returned.

One last note... Because the 3D Systems and MakerGear printers were funded with government money, there is an added requirement that the Team number, name, address, contact name, contact phone number, and contact email will be shared by FIRST with TNFIRST, the group that kindly assumed the responsibility inherent in the funding.

Our apologies for the added complexity, but we think it’s the most appropriate way to distribute this donation. If you have general questions about FIRST Choice, please email FRCteams@usfirst.org. If you have specific questions about your FIRST Choice order, please email firstchoice@andymark.com.

We want to close by thanking the partners listed above for their grit and dedication to making this monumental donation a reality. We see great opportunity for additive manufacturing in FRC: from new options in prototyping to on-demand items. Good luck, Teams!