Thursday, May 4, 2017

Robot Action Chess featured in the World Chess Hall of Fame

A few weeks back I was contacted by Nicole Tessmer of the World Chess hall of fame about including my robot action chess set in their collection. What an absolute honor.

I sometimes worry that my entire life is going to be defined by this one chess set, but I gotta admit it's pretty cool and probably deserves it. In fact I kind of owe this whole '3D Printing Professor' thing to this chess set. See, as a child I had one of those cheap, dollar store chess sets with the plastic injection molded pieces and a little piece of felt on the bottom, only on this set the felt had came off. I discovered that the ball on the top of the pawn would fit into the base of another pawn and I linked them together in this way. I hardly played chess with them, but I played with them like building toys. And thus the seed of this chess set was planted in my mind.

In 2012 I was a father with a software development job. I became a huge fan of 3D printing just as they were entering their newly accessible phase. But even as relatively cheap as they were becoming I still couldn't afford to buy one, not with a family I had to support. However, I had acquired 3D design skills in college related to an animation program I decided not to finish, and so I started designing for 3D printers and shared those designs online. I eventually entered a series of contests whenever the promised prize would be a 3D printer, and time and time again I lost.

Then, Makerbot and Tinkercad teamed up to offer a contest. Design a chess set, win a 3D printer. And suddenly that dollar store chess set I played with as a kid returned to me. I made a sketch on the bus of a voltron-like robot with the pieces of a chess set forming it's body. Then I set to work implementing that design in Tinkercad. It took a week, and many design changes, but finally I had a chess set like no other. I won the contest and my first 3D printer.

I was so excited about that 3D printer that I started a blog. That led to a couple of books. Eventually the blog evolved into a moderately successful YouTube channel. And now I'm building a career, all in 3D printing, all due to a unique chess set design, and a dollar store chess set.

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