Our Biggest Prints Yet

Over the past couple weeks we’ve been working on an exciting new game accessory – a dice tower! This is a big deal for us in two ways. First, it’s our largest print to date, and second, it’s the first one that’s printed in multiple pieces to be fitted together after printing.

First Attempt

As is often the case in 3D printing, our first attempt was a pretty dismal failure.

We had a great concept – a dice tower printed in mostly flat pieces, which could be disassembled for convenient storage. And in our design software it all fit and worked perfectly!

But with the actual print it very quickly became apparent that it was completely unworkable. The pieces would not hold together tightly enough to maintain structural integrity.

We could have solved that with more interlocking slot connections, but we really wanted the outside to look good, without a bunch of extra protruding connector bits.

Second Attempt

We ended up shifting away from the separate panel concept and combined the four main walls into a single tube-shaped print. This gave us our tower in four separate prints:

The base, to provide a catching tray for the dice and a stable support for the tower.

The tower tube, which needs to be printed upside down because of the opening at the bottom of the front.

The deflector ramps, which fit inside the tower to help randomize dice rolls.

And the top, providing a structure for the crenellations.

The pieces fit together fairly well,

and could all nest inside the base for shipping and storage.

This basic structure has remained the same since then.

Third Attempt

We made a few sizing adjustments to make the fit even better, and added all the surface detail – stone blocks/bricks, a portcullis, and crenellations. We also added curved bevels in the tray to make dice removal easier, and improved the supports for the deflector ramps.

At first we thought this design might be the final version.

But then we noticed something – the pieces no longer fit together nicely for shipping/storage! We hadn’t taken into account the thickness of the surface detail, and it was just enough to ruin the fit.

Fourth Attempt

So we had to adjust the sizes of several pieces to make it all fit nicely when disassembled, and still work when assembled.

We also increased the size of the tray bevel to make it more helpful in lifting dice out, and thickened the walls in some places for added strength.

Now it fits nicely when collapsed,

and still looks great when assembled!

This is likely our final design, but we’re going to print it again using one or two other filament colors in case that highlights other needed changes. (You’d be surprised what can happen just from using filament from a different supplier!)

That will also give us more photo options for our Etsy listing. In particular we envision it in gray to simulate stone walls, or a bright color for a fairy castle! But just printing more copies is no small feat. Print time for the entire dice tower totals around 20 hours!

And that assumes no failures, like this piece that came loose from the print bed 5.5 hours into a 9 hour print!

Jankó Update

If you read last week’s blog, you know we’ve been working on a funky keyboard project as a special request. It turned out there were still a few small issues to overcome. I’ve got them fixed now, and I’m awaiting approval from the client before moving ahead with the rest of the keys.

New Seasonal Game Pieces

We have an ambitious week ahead of us! We hope to get the dice tower listing up on Etsy, we’ll be producing more keys for the Jankó keyboard, and we’re very excited to be launching some new sets of game pieces for both Ticket to Ride and Catan! Come back next Monday to see them featured here!