“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”

In 3D Printing, Crafts on December 20, 2013 at 9:42 pm

Originally I was just going to design and print the chess pieces for my sisters steampunk chess set gift.  But then I had some grandiose ideas about printing the chess board as well.  Mostly this was because I was printing the pieces a bit larger than normal and I wasn’t sure they would fit on a normal sized chess board.  Also, I thought it would look cool.  I was going to print the pieces in black and white and there would be indents in each square that the gear shaped bases would lock into.  The pieces would have 3d gears printed into the corners so that it would look like you were slotting each piece into a larger clockwork assembly.  I was printing solely in ABS at the time though and I had a lot of problems getting the fit right due to the abs shrinking. So I modified the squares to just flat pieces that connected at the corners with some gear shaped end caps.  The chess pieces would still look like they were part of a larger clockwork, just not as much.  For the most part, fit was no longer a problem.  Then I managed to get my printer to work with the PLA.  PLA printing gave me a much better quality fit for the chess pieces.  Without the curling and shrinking of the ABS the chess pieces assembled much easier and looked better.   This meant I had to start printing the set out again from scratch.  Now time was an issue.  I scrapped the idea of printing the chess board because there was no way I was going to get it done in time for my sister’s birthday (which is tomorrow incidentally).  I thought I would be able to get all the printing done today.  She wouldn’t have it in time for her birthday but she would be able to have it the next day.  Well… you know what they say about the best laid schemes.  This one also “gang aft a-gley.”  I had an 11 hour print job fail costing me an entire day of printing.  I had a night where the printer just refused to print.  I printed two bishops and decided I didn’t like them and redesigned the piece.  This cost me another day.  Then I decided I didn’t like them being printed with support.  It made it near impossible to clean up the back side of the gear.  So I needed to print them again.  My work schedule changed to accommodate everyone’s holiday plans and I lost a couple more days.  The queens did not print to my standards.  It’s not necessarily that my standards are so high, just that the final product was so obviously flawed.  The queens take about 5.5 hours each to print.  (Yes the first printing of them was the 11 hour print job that failed).  Today is the day I was supposed to be printing the final pieces.  Instead, I am hoping to finish the bishops.  They are printing as I type this without support.  There is no guarantee that this will work.  I did only print one on this first print job so if it fails I won’t have wasted too much time.  I still need to reprint the queens.  I still need to design and print all the pawns.  At this point my sister will not have the chess set before Christmas.  Time is no longer as much of a burden.  Late is late.  Since there is nothing I can do at this point to make the deadline I am going to just take my time and do the thing right.  This means that I have decided to print the chess board again.  I will be doing it a little differently this time.  The board will be made out of two layers that will laminated together.  This means that there does not need to be any connecting pieces.  This eliminates the need for an end cap on the corners or printing them thick enough to have some sort of connecting piece on the underside.  The layers will each be 1 mm thick.  The bottom layer will be PLA and the top layers will be printed in ABS.  Since I have black and white ABS the top squares will be printed in the appropriate color.  The white squares will have a heart shaped cutout in them and the black squares will have a gear shaped cutout.  This will be fairly small so they won’t affect how the base sits on each piece.  I am undecided what I will do with the PLA that will be seen through the cutout.  I might paint it the opposing color (black through the heart cut out and white for the gear).  I might paint it some other color (red for the heart and bronze for the gear).  I might just leave it semi-opaque.  I’ll print them out and dry fit them before I decide what I want to do.  I need to see it in front of me before I decide how I will finish it.  I did all of the design work on the board today after fixing the queens design.  So after I finish the bishops and queens I can get started printing the PLA sections of the board while I design the pawns.  I still haven’t decided what I will do for the pawns.  I played with a complicated delta robot style pawn.  I designed one and printed it, but the assembly time is a bit obscene.  I will probably go for something a little simpler.  Preferably something I can print in one piece without assembly.  I also still need to print the bases for all of these pieces.  I modified my original design some.  I did this partly to make them faster to print but also because I didn’t love the original design.  I think I have 24 hours left to print the pawns, 11 hours for the queens, 7.5 hours left on the bishops, and an unknown amount of time left on the board.  The biggest problem with the board will be that I can only print 4 pieces at a time and it should only take a couple hours for that print job.  This means that if I go to work or something I will only be able to get 2 hours printed at most while I am away.  Right now I start a 6 to 11 hour print job and know that it will be printing most of the time I am away.  The board will have to be printed on days I am off so that I can keep the process rolling.  Anyway, that is my state of the chess set update for the final day of scheduled printing.  I wish the news was better, but I think the product at the end of all this will be better for the changes I’ve made.  I have learned a lot about 3d printing and 3d printers in the process which was part of the fun in attempting something this ambitious.   I guess that is all for now.  Have a great Solstice tomorrow,



edit: i’m guessing around 60 hours of printing for the board. I am hoping that each piece will be under 30 minutes. Seeing as how I need 64 pieces (8×8) for each layer that brings us to about 60.


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