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  • Writer's pictureBillie Ruben

MAKE Campus Workshop Slides: CAD Designing 3D Printed Chess Pieces in Fusion 360 (beginners)

Updated: Mar 15, 2021

horse head
Download ZIP • 756B

Ritual we do here in Australia at the beginning of any meeting of people is called an acknowledgement of country.

As part of it here today I would like to pay my respects to the traditional owners of the land from with I am joining you, the Turrbal people, and acknowledge that not only are we learning here today, but that this area has this area has been a place where knowledge was exchanged since the dawning of humanity. I would like also to pay my respects to the traditional owner from all the lands from which we are meeting here today and pay my respects to all their elders and wise persons, past, present and emerging.

I’m really excited

Recording is only to share with other participants of this workshop, anyone who missed out, not for the general public.

Let me know if you have any concerns and we will sort out a plan.

Following along really helps to embed what you’re learning.

Please ask questions, I want you to learn! If I’m not hitting the mark I really want to know that, I want you to get what you want out of this.

Make Campus Siana/Dan here helping and marking names off Maker of many kinds Admin of largest 3D printing group on Discord

Ex-moderator of /r/3Dprinting on Reddit

Help staff many other 3D-printing communities

Like making guides to help folk print

Just started a YouTube channel

Like making lots of things, fell in love with 3d printing a few years ago and I like sharing my knowledge in this space.

What’s your prior experience?

Do you 3D print?

Have you done any 3D modelling before?

It’s different to a lot of other software, it will make sense eventually, be kind to yourself, you’re new to this, and there’s a lot to it. It’s ok to try something and have it not work, nothing is permanent here, we can’t break it, so it’s a perfect place for us to test and learn and grow together. J

Try not to compare it to much to other software, because it will only cause frustration, try to learn it the way it ‘wants’ you to use it because it will eventually ‘click’ and make sense.

Functional in real world. Need to fit into something, attach to something, work to do something.

You can still use it for these things it’s just less suited

Think about how it would look in 2D first, even sketch it out on paper

For our first chess piece this is what we will be doing, this is just an overview, I’ll step you through each step in a moment.

(Show the default view in fusion then jump back in here to the presentation)

Fusion 360 had various modes which act like workstations where you do different things, and they have different tools in them that are relevant to that task.

In real life it would be like having a workshop and in it you have all your tools set up, you might have a main bench and a drafting table and a lathe. At each of the spaces you do different things and have different tools available to you, that are relevant to the task you would do there. Like at the drafting table you would have pens and rulers and such, and at the lathe you would have chisels and sandpaper, and the main work bench might have lots of versatile tools for all the in-between jobs. In fusion 360 the default workspace you see when you first open a new document is the Solid mode. This is where we view our 3D object (when we have one). Think of it like your main workbench, its where you keep bringing the project back to, once you've done something to it, and you can do little tasks to it, so it’s your general all-round work area, your sort of “home” where your project lives most of the time.

After you edit something somewhere in the system it will return you to here so you can see your model as it currently stands, so this is the default view. So that’s our main workspace. And it is 3D, though it’s hard to tell without anything yet in it, but we will get to that!

For our chess pieces, and for most things in fusion 360, we will start in 2D, with a sketch; kind of like in real like a woodworker would make a plan for their item, before they start cutting. When we start our sketch, it will take us into the Sketch mode, which you can think of as like a drafting table.

We plan and do drawings and make measurements and angles and such here in Sketch Mode. (switch screen to Fusion) and the way we make a sketch is by clicking the sketch icon top left> create sketch will bring up these yellow squares.

Here it is basically asking us where we want to put the sketch, in this 3D space. And it’s giving us a few default options, the top, the front, or the side.

For this model we want to draw it from the front, and to select that plane we first have to move around. So, moving around, hold down shift and your middle mouse (that’s one with a scroll wheel) then move your mouse around.

Notice you will rotate around the centre of those 3 planes, and notice too that your movement is reflected on the cube at the top right.

This cube helps you orient yourself in the 3D space if you get lost.

You can click on the home icon there to return to the default position.

For these chess pieces though we want to put them on the front, and the easiest way to get there is by clicking on the front view in the top box.

It will rotate us around so we’re viewing the 3d space from the front.

Now we can click on this square to make our sketch there. Mac notes: might need to hold down command while scrolling to zoom in and out

Now it opens up the sketch workspace, this is like our drafting table.

It contains all the tools we can use to make our drawing which we will later use to make our 3D model, like lines and shapes.

All the lines in this view are called vectors, lines made of maths, like Adobe Illustrator or InkScape. We don’t have to know the maths, it does all that for us, but it means no matter how big or small we make this it will be accurate.

In this instance we will be making a sort of cross section of our chess piece, like we just saw. It’s sort of a 2D perspective, if we were looking at this object on the side, this is what we’d see.

An origin point is like the fixed point on your scene. It’s 0,0,0, it’s really just a point we can refer to, so it’s good to attach part of your design to it. Sketch tools:

Lines = straight

Splines = curvy

Handles are like tangents

Circle tool makes circles

Constraints and dimensions

Why use them? Allow you to make changes later on that don’t break your model.

How? select something and hit D on your keyboard, to set a dimension (e.g length, angle) for constraints (e.g parallel, equal) use the buttons at the top of the sketch plane.

The revolve tool makes a 3D object by taking a sketch and spinning it around a line, called an axis.

It’s kind of like a pottery wheel or a lathe

It will automatically turn it by 360 degrees when we use it, but I made this animation to show you what it’s doing.

Voila! We have a 3D model!

Let's try making a queen together, similar to how we made the Bishop

Down here at the bottom of the screen there some icons, and they represent each of the actions we’ve done so far. The first one represents our sketch, the next is our revolve

And we can move back in time by moving this slider.

We can also edit any of these steps by double clicking on them.

Now we will make the king! This one will start the same as the rest of our models, with a simple sketch. Then we will learn a new tool, Extrude, to make the cross on top!

Extrude takes 2D drawing and stretches it out in the 3rd dimension.

It’s a really good way to make boxy kinds of shapes, or stencils

It’s like of like having a Lego baseplate and putting blocks on top to form a shape, you’re drawing it up out of the sketch. We are going to use this to make the cross on top of the king.

Side view, create shape

Join vs cut. Most 3D functions have this.


Make base with rotate

Extrude to make horse head from a sketch: Can make own horse head shape using lines or download one from here:

horse head
Download ZIP • 756B

Download and extract this file, then in fusion, with your sketch open go file> insert SVG make bigger and smaller This is a great way to make stencils in fusion if you already have vector art

First make overall shape and then revolve

Now revolve just the little square at the top left, only 20 degrees

(show how to re-open sketch in case someone didn’t didn’t make square)

Pattern tool creates copies of something like a face or a feature. Faces are flat surfaces on our 3D model, features are the steps in our timeline at the bottom of the screen. I prefer to use features where I can as they're generally more stable. We're going to use a circular pattern here, but there are also rectangular ones. For our circular pattern we need to select our feature (the little cut we just made) and a centre axis for it to spin around. I chose to make 8 copies of our cut.

I thought I would show you a quick way to model a box. Sketch, rectangle, offset, finish sketch. extrude boarder of box to make walls extrude base of box (it will default to join)

Object tree on right shows us everything we have in our scene, sketches, bodies, etc.

We can turn the visibility of any of these on and off.

It's good practice to label the items in your scene so you can keep track of them, and because when you export them for printing they will retain the name you give them here.

Flatbed (2D) scanner because you can scan an object with a steel ruler next to it, import it into fusion (Insert>Canvas) then calibrate it to size: right click the canvas in the object tree and hit calibrate, then select two points on the ruler and enter the distance between them.

Practice will help you embed the learning from today.

If you’re not sure where to start, find problems to solve around the house. Maybe a drawer could do with some dividers?

Find things that inspire you and make them

Or if you can’t think of anything, keep making chess pieces! Just jump on websites and take a look at what chess sets are out there, and try to recreate them. I made these potion bottles recently using same tools we’ve used today.

Or try modelling things you already own around the house.

Anything to keep you practicing!

Lots of info out there, and we really have only scratched the surface today.

This particular video on how to model lego.

Autodesk also have lots of tutorials https//

I asked my friends what tips they had for learning CAD and there were a few gems. This is the full thread:

Thank you so much for having me! I’m so incredibly honoured to be here.

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