Why buy a chess set when you can just make one! It's easy and free to download or model your own and 3D print it at home. In this instructable we will go over where to find or how to make base geometry using Autodesk 360 Fusion or the Autodesk 123 Gallery. Then how to clean and prep the meshed for printing using Autodesk Meshmixer, and finally how to use 123D Make to decimate and customize the tesselation of any mesh surface. The pieces will then be printed on a Type A Machines 2014 Series 1.
I'm using this process here to make a simple chess set here but it's an incredibly powerful toolchain that could be used to do all sorts of interesting meshy tesselations.
Step 1: Gather Supplies and Download Programs
First you will need to gather the required supplies.
You will need:
1 Type A Machines Series 1 3D Printer (or any other 3d printer)
And download the following free programs:
If you want to make the board as well you will need:
A Laser Cutter
Some plywood to cut
Step 2: Download or Make Some Base Geometry
Chess pieces are pretty easy to make, there are a ton of software products out there that you can use, for this project I wanted to learn some basics of Fusion360. Fusion is free, powerful, and fits the scope of this project. This is my first Fusion project so it's a bit of a challenge. There are a couple different ways to go about modeling the pieces. You could draw the profiles and revolve them or you could use Fusion360's TSpline functions to modify the form from platonic solids. Either way works and it's a great intro into Fusion.
Step 3: Creating Geometry in Fusion-Solids
The first way to go about creating the necessary geometry in Fusion is to start from platonic solids then use the TSplines Transformation tools to make the desired shapes. Since we will be working with the forms later and we're not too interested in getting the form exactly right this is a good way to create base geometry.
Start with a quadball, this will be the head of our pawn. Select the bottom panels and use the TSpline tools to modify the form into the basic shape of the pawn. You will have to tweak and adjust the edges to get a form you like. Depending on how good you are at Fusion and sculpting this might be a very fast way to make the forms, I had trouble with this method so I tired a different sketch based method.
Step 4: Creating Geometry in Fusion-sketch Method
For me it was easier to use the sketch tools to create the profile of the pieces and rotate them.
I first sketched the profile of the pawn using the line sketch tools. I wasn't too worried about scale at first, that comes later, it's just about getting the basic geometry in there. After the initial sketch was complete I filleted the corners to give it a nice finished look. To complete the sketch and turn it into a region able to be revolved I closed the curve.
I then used the revolve tool to select the region, then select the axis. Once the form was revolved I decided I wasn't happy with the final form.
I went back into the sketch and used the curve control points to modify the final form.
Step 5: Export Mesh As .STL
Once you're happy with your Fusion form it's time to export as an STL mesh for further modification and printing. Double click on the body to select it (it will turn blue). Right click then select export as STL. An options dialogue will come up on the right side of your frame. You don't need to export the form with a crazy amount of detail since we will be modifying in the next step, select the medium or low level of detail and save out your STL.
Step 6: Open Your STLs in 123DMake
Once you've got your perfect topology base models taken care of it's time to make them completely your own! We want to give the traditional chess pieces an update!
Open up your 123DMake App. This is really one of the most underrated applications out there. Although it's UI is cutesy it has a really great set of tools for doing some powerful things: Waffle Constructions, Stacked Topos, and folded panel construction all in one place. I'll be going over some uses of the other features later, but for now what we will be looking at the folded panel options.
Don't worry about the piece's orientation, we'll fix that later on. The fusion exporter automatically maps it's Z axis to the normal Y axis so this is a common problem.
First we'll use the scale tools to make sure our pawn is coming in the right size. Pay attention to the units, we'll need to use that later. Once you're happy with the size of your pieces under construction method select folded panels.
Step 7: Create Panels and Export
Immediately after selecting the folded panel option the model will be decimated and a new mesh will show up. Play with the "vertex count" variable under the simplify form tab. The lower the number the more abstract the form will become. In order to get a consistent look you may have to adjust the level of vertex reduction according to the complexity of the base form.
Once you're happy with the level of mesh decimation re-export the STL. This step is a bit hidden in the UI, go to the upper left corner and hover over the little triangle next to "123D Make". A drop down will appear, navigate down to "export mesh" then right to 'STL'. Save out your newly decimated mesh and it's time to move on to slicing!
If you're not happy with the results of your mesh then go ahead and continue using the meshes provided.
Step 8: Setup and Test Prints
Open up your slicing program of choice and load in your model. You can load the entire set in at once or one at a time. The print should come out fine either way but if you have any doubt load them in one at a time. I will be printing these pieces on a Type A Machines Series 1 2014. I've added Samba to the operating system on the machine to allow me to access the machine over standard networking. This means you can save your .GCODE directly to the printer, I'll go over installing samba in another Instructable.
Here I'm using Cura, it's a fast open source slicer that works great on the Series 1. When you first open your model you may not see anything, zoom in and you will see your very tiny model. Cura uses millimeters and when I saved my model in 123D Make I left the units in inches. Not to worry, simply select the model and open the scale tool in the bottom left, enter "25.4" in any of the X, Y, or Z scale factors to scale the part to the correct size. Once the scale is correct you can adjust the orientation of the part. Use the rotation tools to set the flat part of the piece on the bed. If you make a mistake you can use the "lay flat" button to automatically place the part.
After you've got your part scaled and oriented it's a good idea to do a test print to make sure you have the right settings. Depending on your level of mesh decimation you will probably not need to use any support material. A good place to start is to print with a resolution of 150 or 200 microns and infill of 10%. This is a nice balance of speed and quality. For your final pieces you may want more but you want to make sure your settings are good first.
You can use Cura to pull my settings profile from the gcode in the following step.
Save your gcode onto your Printer. Open the interface and begin the print.
Step 9: Full Set Printing
Once you're happy with your test prints it's time to begin production. You will need 1 King, 1 Queen, 2 Bishops, 2 Knights, 2 Rooks, and 8 Pawns per side. If your tests came out well, you can go ahead and print the entire side as one plate. If you're unsure then print them one at a time, this is more annoying because you will have the tend the printer every hour or so but you are more likely to get all your pieces out.
I've attached full set GCODE and Individual Gcode if you have problems generating correct settings.
Load up your final quality prints, cross your fingers and hit it!
Step 10: Making the Board
While you're waiting for your print to complete why not work on the board?
I decided that I wanted to use the gcode that was running the prints to help make the board as well. I made a grid in Illustrator, I then opened a GCODE file in a text editor and copied out sections. I put the code instructions in the places where the dark squares on the board should be.
I then laser cut the board. I broke the file up into colors -red for engrave and blue for cut through. I used the Epilog at Pier 9 to engrave the board. I decided to raster engrave the text rather than vector it because over a certain level of detail it becomes faster to simply raster a large area of text vs vector it.
After the laser was done I removed the piece, lightly sanded it and coated it in acrylic.
Step 11: Time to Play!
Once both sides are printed and removed from the printer it's time to play. Laser cut up a chessboard, find a partner and begin!
Now that you know the workflow imagine all the cool things you could cover in facets!