Designing for Digital Fabrication Final

For my final design and fabrication project I decided to design and fabricate my own chess set. I developed the design offer the course of a few days. The basic shape is a sphere on top of a skinny pyramid with a round base. This basic frame comes in three sizes to represent each “class” of pieces (eg. Pawn, knight, king). I decided after I made this basic frame to differentiate the pieces according to how they move on the board. As such the points on the head of each piece indicates the general movement pattern of that character. So the pawn has one point facing forward while the queen has eight points facing in every direction.

Then I had to decide how to fabricate these pieces. I wanted them to be solid and ideally somewhat heavy so I figured I could use the 3D printer or the 4Axsis mill. I went with the 4Axsis mill because I had just learned how to use it a week earlier and it offers a wide range of materials to work. The 4 Axis also offers the ability to test a bunch of different materials and see how they work out. Ultimately I cut half a set in soft wood and almost half a set in black delrin.

Ideally I would have had the time to cut one side out of white delrin and one side out of black delrin and the wood would have been a test version but the 4-Axsis takes approximately 1.5-3.5 hours per piece. I completed 29 pieces and ran out of time. Another issue I ran into was that the delrin would warp under the pressure of the mill if I was cutting too many pieces at the same time (in an effort to reduce waste material). I eventually figured out how to correct for this issue by cutting in stages, but this added even more time and could introduce errors of its own. That being said I am really happy with the delrin pieces that made it and the design. I’ve learned how to use the 4 axis mill pretty thoroughly and by virtue of spending a lot of time in the shop, I’m a lot more comfortable with all the machines in general. However if I were to repeat this project I think I would instead send the file out for 3d printing and/or casting. The 4-Axsis is great for prototyping and provides high quality results but when constant attendance is required it just isn’t economical time wise.


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