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Just imagine you’re playing a Saturday game of chess in the park.  While contemplating the next move, your opponent casually asks where you bought such a unique chess set.  You’ll respond that you made it.  Surprised, your opponent will further question you until…BAM!  The next thing you know you’ll be explaining the ins and outs of additive manufacturing processes and how useful they can be.  And just like that another person will become enthralled with the possibilities of this flourishing technology known as 3D printing. 

See, 3D printing is pretty awesome to say the least.  In a relatively short amount of time, an idea can travel from a person’s thoughts to a person’s hands.  All that is needed in between are the skills to successfully represent that idea in a computer program. 

And this design step is unfortunately where most 3D printed innovation stops for the average person.  My hope for this instructable is that I can demonstrate just how simple 3D modeling can be when creating a design to be printed. 

In just eight steps you will have a complete chess set ready to be printed.  I chose the chess set for this instructable because unlike many possessions a person owns, a chess set needs to be shared to be enjoyed.  So go on, take the first move.  Follow along with this instructable to learn how to use 123D Design to model your next innovative idea.  With a little bit of practice, you’ll soon find yourself putting personal consumerism in ‘check.’

P.S.  If you would simply like to download the .stl files to be printed, they can be found below.  Please comment on how well the pieces printed for you; I’m curious to find out!

Step 1: Chess Board's Main Body

The first step is to create the main body of the chess board.  Before you begin, download the 123D Design desktop application here.  I also found installing the latest driver update for my computer's graphics card greatly improved the performance of 123D Design and prevented any unexpected program crashes.  That said, be sure to save often to avoid losing any work.

Above you will find a screenshot image of each stage in the process and this image will include a text box which reveals important information when moused over.  All the screenshots are in order so follow along with the numbers below to learn how to create a 3D printable chess board in 123D Design!

1.  Begin by starting a new project in the 123D Design desktop application.  Next, ensure that the workspace is set to create in millimeters(mm) by changing the units found in the bottom left corner of the screen.  For a few helpful tips try holding a right click while moving your mouse to orbit around objects, move the scroll wheel to zoom in and out, and click and hold the scroll wheel while moving the mouse to effortlessly pan across the workspace.

2.  Click the sketch icon and select the rectangle shape to define the outer edge of the chess board.

3.  Dimension this rectangle to be a square 277mm X 277mm.  Tap enter to create the shape.

4.  If you want to alter your rectangle, single click the shape and a context menu (gear icon) will appear.  Click the context menu and mouse over to the action you want to perform.

5.  Click two perpendicular sides of your square to verify the dimensions are correct.  Clicking the dimensions once they appear will allow you to make any changes should they be necessary.  Hit ESC to exit the edit dimension command (and most any other command for that matter).

6.  Click the shape again and select the context menu.  Mouse over and click extrude.  The extrusion command allows you to project a two-dimensional shape into the third dimension.

7.  Enter an extrusion distance of 12mm in the command box which appears and then tap the enter key.

8.  Create another rectangle and select the shape you just made as its sketch plane.  This time dimension the rectangle to be square 227mm X 227mm.  Make sure to start the rectangle so that it is 25mm offset from the the outer edges of your first shape.  If you began this model from the origin, the grid lines in the workspace should indicate where the 25mm lines are.  Simply mouse over this location and a small blue square icon will appear.  Left clicking will create the rectangle from this exact point (25,25) in space.

9.  Select this newly created shape to bring up its context menu.  Choose the extrude command and type in the value -5mm into the command box which appears.  Notice that the shape now cuts into the chess board 5mm because we chose to extrude in a negative direction.

10.  We will now create the black squares of the chess board.  Begin by drawing a rectangle in the bottom left hand corner of the shape you just cut.  This shape that you are creating is what I call a guide rectangle because while it helps us to draw in the workspace, it will not become part of the final model.

11.  Dimension the rectangle to be 3mm X 3mm and then tap enter.

12.  Use the rectangle command again to make the first black square of the chess board.  Its dimensions should be 25mm X 25mm and should begin at the last corner of the guide rectangle.

13.  Using the rectangle command, create another guide rectangle of dimensions 3mm X 3mm which begins at the last corner of the first black square.

14.  Create a second black square which is 25mm X 25mm using the rectangle command.  The square will begin at the last corner of the second guide rectangle.

15.  Left click either one of the two recently created black squares.  A context menu should appear.

16.  Select the rectangular pattern command found with the context menu.

17.  The rectangular pattern command should now be open.  The first piece of information required for a pattern to be made is the sketch entities.  Carefully select all eight edges which comprise the two black squares you just made.  A selected edge will change in color from white to blue.  Deselect any unwanted edge by clicking that edge again.

18.  With the sketch entities selected, we must choose a direction for our pattern.  Switch from the sketch entities tab by clicking the direction/s tab.

19.  For the first direction of the pattern, select the horizontal line which serves as the outer edge of the checkered tiles.

20.  The rectangular pattern command box will now prompt you for the distance over which you want the pattern to occur and the number of iterations you want for the pattern.  Enter -168mm into the first box and 4 into the second box.

21.  Select the rectangular pattern command direction arrow which is perpendicular to the direction that the pattern was just created.  

22.  Enter -168mm and 4 into the two dialog boxes which now appear as part of the rectangular pattern command and then tap enter.  The pattern should now cover the entirety of the chess board's playing surface.

23.  Click on any black square to make visible a context menu.  Choose the extrude command found in the context menu.  Now select all thirty-two of the black squares on the chess board.  When selected, each square will change in color to beige.

24.  Enter an extrusion value of -5mm into the command box and then press enter.

25.  The shape of the chess board is now complete.  However let's learn how to change the material of our object too.

26.  Click anywhere on the chess board and a menu will appear.  Select the material icon to change the color and composition of the object.

27.  On the left hand side of the window are the various material options you may use.  To the right is displayed the color of the material.  Be sure to check the apply overlay box at the bottom right corner of the materials window.  My chess board used Poly Smoke plastic with a color value of #0C0C0C.

28.  The chess board with all of the black tiles is now complete.  Time for step two.

Step 2: The Remaining Tiles

The next step is to make the remaining square tiles for the chess board.  When this part is 3D printed, you should be able to snap it into position on the chess board.  All of the images are in order so be sure to follow along with the numbers below and to read the text boxes on each screenshot.

1.  Begin by starting a new project.  The units should be set to millimeters (mm) and saved as a new file.  From the main toolbar, mouse over to the sketch icon and choose the rectangle command.

2.  Specify the first corner of the rectangle to begin at the origin of the graph.  Then input the dimensions 227mm X 227mm and tap enter to create the shape.

3.  Left click the rectangle to get the context menu to appear (gear icon).  From the context menu, choose the extrude command.

4.  Extrude the rectangle into the negative direction by entering the value -3mm.

5.  Now create a guide rectangle starting at the bottom left corner of the existing shape.  It should have dimensions of 3mm X 31mm.

6.  Create another guide rectangle from the same location with dimensions this time of 31mm X 3mm.

7.  Use the rectangle command to make the first tile of dimensions 25mm X 25mm.  It needs to begin at the upper right corner of the first guide rectangle you created.

8.  Another tile must be made with the rectangle command.  Start it from the upper right corner of the second guide rectangle and enter the dimensions of 25mm X 25mm.

9.  Left click either of the two tiles in the workspace to bring up a context menu.  From the context menu choose the rectangular pattern command.

10.  Select the eight lines which comprise the two square tiles.  As you select a line, it will change from white to blue.

11.  Now click the direction tab.

12.  Select the bottom horizontal line to define the direction of the pattern.

13.  When the dialog box appears, enter the value -168mm into the first area and 4 into the second area.

14.  Click the arrow which is perpendicular to the current direction of the pattern.

15.  A dialog box will appear asking for the distance and quantity of the pattern.  Enter -168mm and 4.

16.  Left click any of the tiles to get its context menu to appear.  Then use the extrude command from the context menu.

17.  Select all of thirty-two of the tiles for the extrusion.

18.  Enter 2mm into extrusion dialog box.

19.  We now must make openings in this model so that the remaining tiles will fit next to the black tiles on our chess board.  Begin by using the rectangle command.

20.  Start the rectangle at the intersection of the two existing guide rectangles. 

21.  This first opening should have dimensions of 25mm X 25mm.

22.  Create a third guide rectangle.  It should begin from the upper right corner of the first opening.

23.  This third guide rectangle should be a square 3mm X 3mm.

24.  Use the rectangle command to create a second opening.  Start the sketch at the upper right corner of the third guide rectangle.

25.  Give this second opening the dimensions 25mm X 25mm.

26.  Now select either of the openings so that its context menu appears.  Choose the rectangular pattern command from the context menu.

27.  The rectangular pattern command requires that you select sketch entities.  Click on the eight sides of the two openings.  Be careful not to select the edges of guide rectangles one and two when clicking sides.

28.  Switch to the direction tab by left clicking it.

29.  Select the bottom horizontal line to define the direction of the pattern.

30.  A dialog box will appear asking for the distance and quantity of the pattern.  Enter -168mm and 4.

31.  Left click the perpendicular arrow to finish the pattern.

32.  In the dialog box input the values -168mm and 4.  Tap enter to complete the pattern.

33.  Now we must negatively extrude the pattern to fully create the openings for the black tiles.  Click any of the openings you just made and choose the extrusion command from its context menu.

34.  Select all thirty-two of the recently created squares for the extrusion.  Each square will turn blue when you select it.

35.  Enter an extrusion distance of -3mm into the dialog box.  Then tap enter for the extrusion to take effect.

36.  Your model will now have thirty-two openings for the black tiles of the chess board.

37.  Left click anywhere on the model so that you can access the material properties of the remaining tiles.

38.  Scroll down to the plastic materials.  I used Poly Clear in my model with a color value of #12DFE2.  For white tiles on your chess board, try #EEEEEE.  Check the Apply Overlay box to see the changes on your model in the workspace.

39.  Done with step two!  Time to make the pieces...

Step 3: The Pawn

In the next few steps I will show you three different methods for making the chess pieces, all of which will improve your understanding of the program 123D Design.  The hope is that by learning these techniques, you will recognize the many ways to model your creations for 3D printing.  Also feel free to design the pieces however you want; this is a great chance to make your chess set truly unique.

All of the screen shots for making the pawn are above.  I have numbered instructions below as well.  Here it goes...

1.  We will use the polyline command under the sketch icon in the main toolbar to begin the pawn.  A polyline allows us to freely sketch a shape in the workspace.

2.  Start the polyline from the origin and give it a dimension of 40mm.

3.  Use the polyline command again to continue the sketch.  Begin the sketch by clicking on the existing line.  When the line is selected, it will glow white.

4.  Start the line at the grid's origin.  A blue square will appear when you have selected the proper location.

5.  The line should be perpendicular to the existing line and have a dimension of 10mm.  Left click the mouse to continue the sketch.

6.  I chose to draw another line at an angle of 71.5° with a dimension of 2.628mm.  Feel free to create a line of any desired length and shape.  The first line we drew will serve as the height of the pawn and the second line will be half the length of the pawn's base.  Follow along with the rest of this step to see what I mean.  When the line is in position, left click to continue using the polyline command.

7.  Give the next line a dimension of 1mm.

8.  The polyline continues with a dimension of 30.174mm and is at an angle of 84°.

9.  Create the polyline at an angle of 108.4° with a dimension of 7.906mm.

10.  The final polyline will finish the shape.  It should have a dimension of 7.5mm and be perpendicular to the first line you drew.  Then tap enter to close the shape.

11.  If all of the polylines are connected and the shape is closed then the area contained within the lines will be shaded.  If not all of the lines are connected, retrace the shape without exiting the polyline command to be sure that the area is closed.

12.  Single click the shaded shape to bring up its context menu.  Choose the revolve command from the options available.

13.  The revolve command will prompt for a revolution profile.  Simply click the shape we just created to define the shape as the revolution profile.

14.  Now that we have the revolution profile, we must choose an axis around which this profile will be revolved.  Click the Axis tab to switch from the Profile tab.

15.  The line we drew to be 40mm will serve as the axis.  Be sure to select this line.

16.  A prompt will now appear on the revolution command asking us to specify how far we want to revolve the shape.  Since we want a complete pawn, we need a full revolution.  Enter 360° and tap enter to finish the revolution. 

17.  We will now move the pawn so it is standing upright.  Click, hold, and drag your mouse over the object to select the pawn.

18.  Mouse over the transform icon and click the move command.

19.  Click the rotate handle which is perpendicular to the sketch plane and enter a value of 90° to correct the pawn's orientation.

20.  Click the move handle which is pointing up from the sketch plane.  Enter a value of 20mm into the command box and tap enter.

21.  We can also choose to change the display so that we only see the object.  Choose the hide sketches command found under the visibility icon in the navigation bar.

22.  We will now refine the shape of the pawn.  Mouse over the modify icon and click the fillet command.  Fillets give the edges of our object a rounded appearance.

23.  Click the edge found on the neck of the pawn as the edge to fillet.

24.  In the fillet command box, input a value of 25mm as the fillet radius and then tap enter.  The neck of the pawn should now have a more flowing appearance.

25.  Use the fillet command again and select the edge found at the junction of the the base and stem of the pawn.

26.  Enter a radius value of 0.5mm into the fillet command box.

27.  Click the fillet command and select the top edge of the pawn as the edge to fillet.

28.  Enter 0.25mm as the value of the radius into the fillet command box.

29.  The pawn is now complete.

Step 4: The Rook

While making the pawn we used the revolve command to define the majority of the object.  To make the rook, we will combine standard primitives and then modify those primitives to create the desired shape.  Refer to the following steps and their corresponding pictures to learn the second of the three methods to design chess pieces. 

1.  Begin creating the rook by clicking the cone command found under the primitives icon in the main toolbar.

2.  Be sure to center the cone over the origin of the sketch plane.  Now enter into the cone command box values of 10mm for the cone's radius and 35mm for the cone's height and then tap enter.

3.  Select the circle command found under the sketch icon.

4.  Choose the bottom of the cone as the sketch plane for the circle.

5.  Click the center of the cone's bottom face to place the center of the circle at this location.

6.  Input into the circle command box 20mm as the length of the diameter and then tap enter.

7.  The circle should be the same size as the base of the cone.  Now select the circle by clicking it.

8.  A context menu will appear.  Choose the move command.

9.  Click the downward facing move handle and enter a distance of -2mm.

10.  Zoom in and select the circle to bring up its context menu.

11.  Click the extrude command found in the circle's context menu.

12.  On the right hand side of the extrude command box change the extrude action to cut. 

13.  Enter an extrusion value of -38mm and then tap enter.

14.  Select the cone command again found under the primitives icon.

15.  Center the cone on the top of the existing object and input values of 9mm and 45mm for the radius and height, respectively.

16.  Click on the circle that we used previously to bring up its context menu.

17.  In the context menu choose the move command.

18.  Select the downward pointing move handle as the direction of travel and enter the value -18mm into the move command box.

19.  Click on the circle and select the extrude command from the context menu that appears.

20.  On the right hand side of the extrude command box change the extrude action to cut. 

21.  Extrude the circle -27mm.

22.  Use the cylinder command found under the primitives icon.

23.  Center the cylinder and give it a radius of 5.5mm and a height of 20mm.

24.  Use the cylinder command again.

25.  Center the cylinder and enter the value 8mm for both the radius and the height.

26.  We have finished using the circle for our extrusions so we will now make it invisible.  Click the hide sketches command under the visibility icon on the navigation bar.  Now only our object should be visible.

27.  It's time to unite all of the primitives we just used.  Click the combine command found on the main toolbar.

28.  Select part of the object to be designated as the target solid.

29.  Click the source solid/s tab to switch from the target solid tab.

30.  To finish combining the pieces, click the remaining primitives and then tap enter.

31.  Now that the general shape of the rook is complete, we will refine the shape.  Select the fillet command which is under the modify icon in the main toolbar.

32.  Choose to fillet the edge where the first cylinder and the second cone meet on the stem of the rook.

33.  Input a fillet radius value of 150mm.  The rook should now have a more flowing appearance.

34.  Use the fillet command again.

35.  Select the edge on the neck of the rook where the first and second cylinder meet.  Input a value of 3mm as the fillet radius and then tap enter.

36.  The rook is now complete.  Time to learn the last method for creating chess pieces...

Step 5: The Knight

The knight will be made primarily by using the loft command.  Follow along with the numbered steps below and the corresponding images to make the knight.

1.  We must first make a circle.  Click the circle command found under the sketch icon on the main toolbar.

2.  The command will now prompt you to specify a center for the circle.  Be sure to choose the origin of the sketch plane as the center by clicking the origin.

3.  Enter a value of 14mm as the diameter and then tap enter.

4.  Click the circle to bring up the context menu.

5.  Select the move command in the context menu.

6.  Choose the upward pointing move handle for the direction of movement and then enter a value of 40mm into the move command box.

7.  Select the circle command again under the sketch icon.

8.  The command will now ask us to select a sketch plane.  We will use the same plane for this circle as we did for the last circle.

9.  Click the origin to specify this point as the center of the circle.

10.  Enter a value of 12mm as the diameter of the circle.

11.  Click the circle to bring up the context menu.

12.  Select the move command in the context menu.

13.  Choose the upward pointing move handle for the direction of movement and then enter a value of 30mm into the move command box.

14.  Use the circle command again.

15.  Select the same sketch plane that we have used for the last two circles.

16.  Click the origin to specify this point as the center of the circle.

17.  Enter a value of 18mm as the diameter of the circle.

18.  Click the circle to bring up the context menu.

19.  Using the move command in the context menu, begin by selecting the upward pointing move handle for the direction of movement.  Then enter a value of 2mm into the move command box.

20.  Use the circle command again and choose the same sketch plane that we have been using.

21.  Click on the origin of the sketch plane to properly center the circle.

22.  Enter a value of 19mm as the diameter of the circle.

23.  Click the circle to bring up the context menu.  Choose the move command from the context menu.

24.  Choose the upward pointing move handle for the direction of movement and then enter a value of 2mm into the move command box.

25. Select the circle command and then click on the sketch plane that we have used for all of the sketches.

26.  Click the origin to specify this point as the center of the circle.

27.  Enter a value of 20mm as the diameter of the circle.

28.  We will now use the loft command to turn our sketches into an object.  On the main toolbar, mouse over the construct icon and click on the loft command.

29.  The loft command will require that we select two sketches.  Choose the most recently created circle as the first sketch.

30.  Now click the second most recently created sketch.  Two of the circles will be in the same plane.  Be sure to click the larger of the two circles.

31.  Tap enter to confirm the loft.

32.  Select the loft command found under the construct icon.

33.  We must now designate the first shape to be used for the loft.  Click the third most recently created circle. 

34.  Select the second circle we created.

35.  Tap enter to confirm the loft.

36.  Select the loft command found under the construct icon.

37.  Click the top surface of the object to serve as the first face of the loft.

38.  Select the remaining circle as the second loft surface.

39.  Tap enter to confirm the loft.

40.  Choose the hide sketches command found under the visibility icon to view only the object in the workspace.

41.  It is now time to make the head of the knight.  Begin by using the rectangle command found under the sketch icon.  Select the top of the object as the sketch plane.

42.  Create a rectangle with length 20mm and width 14mm that begins at the origin of the sketch plane.

43.  Click the newly created rectangle to bring up its context menu.  Choose the move command.

44.  Select the move handle that is pointing in the negative y-direction of the sketch plane.  Move the rectangle a distance of 12mm.

45.  Select the move handle that is pointing in the positive x-direction of the sketch plane.  Move the rectangle a distance of -7mm and then tap enter.

46.  Click the rectangle to bring up its context menu.

47.  Choose the move command found under the context menu of the rectangle.

48.  Select the move handle that is pointing in the positive z-direction of the sketch plane.  Move the rectangle a distance of 10mm and then tap enter.

49.  Click the rectangle command found under the sketch icon.

50.  Use the topmost surface of the object as the sketch plane.

51.  Select the origin of the sketch plane as the beginning corner of the rectangle.

52.  Give the rectangle a length of 26mm and a width of 14mm.

53.  Click the newly created rectangle to bring up its context menu.  Choose the move command.

54. Select the move handle that is pointing in the negative y-direction of the sketch plane.  Move the rectangle a distance of -8mm.

55.  Select the move handle that is pointing in the positive x-direction of the sketch plane.  Move the rectangle a distance of -7mm and then tap enter.

56.  Click the rectangle to bring up its context menu.

57.  Choose the move command found under the context menu of the rectangle.

58.Select the move handle that is pointing in the positive z-direction of the sketch plane.  Move the rectangle a distance of 8mm and then tap enter.

59.  Click the rectangle command found under the sketch icon.

60.  Use the topmost surface of the object as the sketch plane.

61.  Select the origin of the sketch plane as the beginning corner of the rectangle.

62.  Give the rectangle a length of 26mm and a width of 14mm.

63.  Click the newly created rectangle to bring up its context menu. 

64.  Choose the move command.

65. Select the move handle that is pointing in the negative y-direction of the sketch plane.  Move the rectangle a distance of 12mm.

66.  Select the move handle that is pointing in the positive x-direction of the sketch plane.  Move the rectangle a distance of -7mm and then tap enter.

67.  Click the loft command found under the construct icon.

68.  Select the most recently created rectangle as the first loft surface.

69.  Choose the middle rectangle as the second loft surface.

70.  Tap enter to confirm the loft.

71.  Click the loft command found under the construct icon.

72.  Select the topmost surface of the object.

73.  Choose the remaining rectangle as the second loft surface.

74.  Tap enter to confirm the loft.

75.  Click the hide sketches command found under the visibility icon to view only the object.

76.  We will now refine the appearance of the knight.  Begin by clicking the chamfer command found under the modify icon in the main toolbar.

77.  Select the top back edge of the head of the knight.

78.  Input into the chamfer command box a value of 2mm.

79.  Click the fillet command found under the modify icon.

80.  Select twelve of the edges which make up the top, front, and back of the knight.  When an edge is selected, it will turn blue.  To deselect an edge, simply click it again.

81.  Input into the fillet command box a value of 7mm for the fillet radius.

82.  Click the fillet command found under the modify icon.  Select the now curved front edge under the head of the knight.

83.  Input into the fillet command box a value of 2.5mm for the fillet radius.

84.  Click the fillet command found under the modify icon.  Select the curved back edge under the head of the knight and the edge around the neck of the knight.

85.  Input in the fillet command box a value of 25mm for the fillet radius.

86.  The knight is now finished. 

It's time to showcase your new-found design abilities.  Use the techniques you have just learned to create the final three chess pieces on your own.  I have provided a general guideline for how I made each of the remaining pieces. 

Step 6: The Bishop

Here are the images of my bishop.  I heavily used the loft command to create this piece.

Step 7: The Queen

I employed the revolve command to construct the Queen. 

Step 8: The King

At last...the final piece.  Here are the images of the King.  By the way, I used the torus command to design the arches on the head of the King.

Your chess board is now ready to be printed, played, and enjoyed.  Thanks for following along and I hope you learned a lot from this instructable.  Now go and spread the wonder of 3D printing to everyone you know!
<p>This is a wonderful exposition. Thanks so much for sharing this. This is just great.</p>
You can print on a website like shapeways
I need a 3D printer this is epic!!
thanks for the file and instructions. don't have a 3D printer yet but ithink i'll consider having one

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