Wakefield City Academy

Wakefield City Academy

An Academy of Excellence
“An Outstanding School” Ofsted 2004/05, 2007/08 & 2012/13

WCA 3D Printed Chess Set

Year 11 student Bill 'Grandmaster' Price-Nicholson has created for the Academy a full chess set including a board by using the D&T department's new 3D printer.  Read his full write up below and watch the time lapse videos he has created of some of the pieces being made.



During my GCSE examination period I have spent time in the D&T department exploring how the Academy’s 3D printer can be used.  It took some time before I decided what I could make that would occupy me and produce a suitable project for display. Thinking back to my Graphics GCSE coursework, where I had to design a board game, I realised I could build a game that already existed – chess.

Searching Thingiverse for a suitable design didn’t take long, soon finding a hexagonal chess set and a jigsaw style board. This project would be good to build, as it requires thirty-two chess pieces, half one colour, half another and sixty-four board pieces along with inserts to change the colour of the square. It took me over three weeks to create this marvel, using a full reel of white plastic, and bits of blue [and yellow]. The plastic is ABS, which stands for Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, a common thermoplastic. You can also use PLA, polylactic acid, and wood or brick composites on the printer.

How does it work you might ask. Well, let me tell you. The plastic is on a reel that is feed into the top nozzle box. This is then heated to around 250ºC where the plastic melts. This is then fed onto a platform which is heated at 100ºC. The printer nozzle feeds the plastic out in many layers, one on top of the last. These layers, when built up, form the design from the software. A pawn, the smallest and simplest of the chess pieces, was 225 layers high, and took around twenty minutes to create. It was only about in inch tall (2.5 cm), and only used around 2 grams of material. Unfortunately, without a good scaffold structure to support it, overhanging parts on pieces don’t print with very good quality. This is pretty much the only fall down point, as everything else works as standard. This can be rectified by some sanding or filing, but it is a pain.

To finish, the 3D Printer is an amazing bit of kit, able to create many wondrous things.  Next year the D&T department will integrate its use into both KS3 and KS4 projects, therefore allowing students to design components using CAD then manufacture them using the 3D printer.

Bill P-N