Year 10 students at Chatham & Clarendon Grammar School recently completed a 3D printed chess piece project as part of their GCSE Level course. The project is an introduction to CAD/CAM with the overall aim of pupils’ understanding of how to design and make for 3D printing.

The students were given a loose brief – “to design and make a chess piece, using Solidworks and the 3D printers”.  They then ‘drew from a hat’ to discover which of the chess pieces they would be expected to produce.

Decisions were made about the specifications for the chess pieces, between the students and the teacher, as follows:

Base width:

‘Major’ pieces = 30mm, Rook = 25, Pawn = 20.


King = 75mm, Queen = 70, Bishop = 60, Knight = 50, Rook = 45, Pawn = 37.5.

The emphasis for the project was that the student should be ‘telling the story’ of their progress, with; their sketches, annotation, photos, screen captures etc., to break away from the confines of fitting work into specific sections of a folder.

They were given a teacher led Solidworks task to ensure that everyone had at least the basic skills required, but that any additional skills needed to be investigated by the students by using online tutorials, so that they took ownership of their own learning and made design decisions according to their CAD skills.

The students also agreed the deadline for the project amongst themselves, which was then formalised by the teacher.

The groups were shown the basic principles of transferring their Solidworks generated designs to the Ultimaker, by using the Cura software. Once the students were ready to print their 3D outcome they brought their CAD files (using USB flash drives) to a single student – responsible for their ‘colour’ of piece – who then assembled all of the necessary files within Cura.

Thus, we began to attempt to replicate the process of a design workplace as the ‘specialist’ was responsible for certain tasks.

The intention of the project was to show the benefits of the 3D printing process on prototyping their intended designs, while also ensuring that the outcomes were suitably small as to minimise material use or wastage. If mistakes were made, individuals were able to alter their design as necessary, and thus iterate to make improvements.

The ease that the students were able to complete the task successfully stands testament to the usability of the Ultimaker and the allied interfaces. We are encouraging students to take control of their own learning, and the students certainly took ownership of the process throughout this short project, and were not intimidated by being in charge of manufacturing their prototypes.

And finally,

Thank you to Chatham & Clarendon Grammar School for sharing your project with CREATE Education. Your generosity in sharing your work with our community will help other educators and many other students to directly benefit.

In The Classroom

This is a great project for GCSE Design Technology skills development in CAD/CAM. Performing this activity/project will have students look at and use: CAD software,
ergonomics, tolerances and 3D printing technology. Although this project uses Solidworks, it can be run using whichever 3D modelling software is used in school. Chatham and Clarendon Grammar School have also shared a project guide with details of how to structure this project which can be downloaded from the Chess Pieces Project Resource Page.

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