machines which I have made, am making, or intend to make, and some other stuff. If you find this site interesting, please leave a comment. I read every comment and respond to most.

Tag: Chess

Chess. 3d printing complete.

The white pieces were printed several weeks ago, then the black pawns. But I had 2 failed runs when printing the black major pieces. The failures seemed to be caused by failed adhesion of the pieces to the platform. In each case, the runs were progressing nicely, but failed after about 20 hours, in the middle of the night, covering the 7/8th completed pieces with PLA spaghetti.

The settings were exactly the same as the white pieces, so why the sudden failures? Is the black PLA different in some way?

So I asked my colleagues at the GSMEE. (Geelong Society of Model and Experimental Engineers), some of whom are experienced 3d printers. It was suggested that perhaps I had turned on the cooling fan too soon, after layer 1. So I changed the setting so the fan did not come on until after the platform and one layer of the pieces had been completed. And the result was excellent! See the photo.T

The black pieces, after a quick clean up. A successful run, which went for 26 hours.

Of course the colour of the PLA is irrelevant. The PLA will be melted, vapourised and burned out after the molds are made. But I could not resist the opportunity for a photograph.

Next, to make the wax and PLA trees, and make the molds.

Still thinking about what metals to choose, and how to colour them. The pieces could be used just as they are, but I really want to feel the weight of real metal pieces.

And although I claim that the 3d printing is complete, the assumption is that there will be no casting failures. I could well be printing more pieces.

3D printing a PLA chess set for alu/bronze casting

Each piece takes 2.5 – 4 hours to print at the high resolution which I require to produce a good finish. The printed pieces will be attached to a tree, then encased in jeweller’s casting medium inside a steel cylinder. When set, the cylinder is heated to 200-300ºc to melt and vaporise the PLA, producing a cavity in the casting medium, into which the molten metal will be poured. The mould is baked for about 6 hours to thoroughly dry and harden it before the metal is poured into it.

There are 16 pieces in each army of a chess set. So 64 hours of printing for each colour. Plus failures. So far, in about 5 days of printing, I have produced the whites. That has taken almost 1kg of PLA, one roll. PLA is not expensive. I paid about $AUD22 per roll, including postage. Lately prices have risen to around $AUD30 per roll.

These are examples of a print run failure. This run was almost completed after 24 hours, when for some reason it just stopped. It was overnight, possibly a short power outage. Another run failed due to poor plate adhesion, again near the end of a run. I solved that issue by turning up the temperature of the extruder to 220ºc and the temperature of first few layers of the platform to 70ºc.
An army of pawns. One spare.
Half ready for casting. Now printing the opposition (in black PLA, only because that is what I have on hand, plus it might be another photo opportunity.). Can’t wait to see these in aluminium and bronze.


I have been teaching my 5 year old grandsons to play chess. It started with checkers, but the little buggers are already beating me at that! So I have upped the ante and introduced chess.

Then I thought that a chess set might make a nice present. So I explored THINGIVERSE and found these Egyptian styled pieces. Free download. And I have been printing them. I intend to cast them in bronze and aluminium.

This obelisk is a castle.
Queen on the right, knights on the left. Printing in progress so the supports are yet to be removed. Behind are the bishops and the king.

The detail and quality of these Thingiverse STL’s is superb!

I am printing in 0.15mm layers, using PLA.

Quite excited about this project.