This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Tue, April 2 2019 4:20 AM UTC +00:00.
Dice precision CNC machined from your choice of 6061-T6 (one of the most ubiquitous aluminum alloys, used in aircraft) and C360 H02 brass (used in gears, pinions, locks). Each dice is engraved with its alloy designation (or you can opt out for no engraving) and are stone washed.
There are currently 4 types of dice that I am offering.
They are the following,
- 6061-T6 aluminum alloy with alloy engraving
- 6061-T6 aluminum alloy without any engraving
- C360 H02 brass with alloy engraving
- C360 H02 brass without any engraving
*Disclaimer, C360 H02 brass is comprised of about 3% lead (for better machinability). Not a problem unless you eat it. The brass dice are also hefty and are intended more display purposes than for rolling on board games or wood tables.
Monopoly 16mm D6 dice for comparison: 0.20 oz (5.7 grams)
6061-T6 aluminum alloy: 0.36 oz (10 grams)
C360 H02 brass: 1.1 oz (32 grams)
On a work trip in the desert of Utah I found myself with extra time on my hands and spent it thinking of something cool to make with my CNC machines that other people might be interested in.
The inspiration started with some desk ornaments on Kickstarter. They had a zen look to it and there was clear market interest. Desk ornaments were something that I had some interest in making but wasn't too sure what other people would want.
I started with a project that visually displayed 1 ounce of common engineering materials placed on a stand that visually compared the strength to density. This idea was run by my friends (also engineers and in relevant fields) who all politely said it was not interesting enough.
In the spirit of engineering and marketing I steered the project toward something that had more practical utility to it and was familiar to the general public.
While sifting through Kickstarter I noticed that there were some dice projects but not many that had the design with rounded corners that I was pitching. They also did not feature the engineering theme of the metal alloys each were machined from. I thought it might be cool to have common engineering alloys at my desk that also had some useful amusing application.
I ran designs by my friends and after several iterations landed on one that had both aesthetic appeal and functionality. It was also one of the more difficult designs to manufacture.
Now came the hard part. Designing a manufacturing method to reliably and economically produce the dice. The deliverable would need to be a high quality dice, free of machine lines, consistent dimensionally, with a near uniform distribution when rolled. Time to machine is secondary. After trying out many tools, many fixtures, many programs, many finishing methods, and producing many prototype dice (around 200), a 6 operation CNC machining manufacturing process and finish procedure was developed.
This all happens in a one stall parking space in the middle of the Pacific ocean where my Tormach PCNC1100M is the primary workhouse machining the material.
What it takes to make these
To make these requires the following steps, ordering bar stock from various suppliers, finding the best shipping rate/method, cutting stock to size, machining stock square and engraving side 1 (operation 1), facing the stock (operation 2), measuring the part with a Mitutoyo micrometer and confirming it falls within an acceptable tolerance (it is discarded if it does not meet standard), documenting the dimensions (for trend analysis), machining side 2 (operation 3), machining side 3 (operation 4), machining side 4 (operation 5), machining side 5 (operation 6), then 8-12 hours of stone washing, and final inspection. Then packing and shipping. It sounds like a lot, but I love making stuff and also automating the boring parts.
All manufacturing is done within the USA.
December - prototype and testing, designing and setting up the manufacturing process, validating that each type of dice can be produced economically, reliably, and consistently.
January - Begin designing Kickstarter project, keep refining manufacturing process
February - Keep refining manufacturing process, generate Google form as back up fulfillment tool (since I can't completely preview the Kickstarter forms)
March - Continue testing manufacturing process, launch project.
April - Successfully funded? Order material, begin cutting stock and machining to size, beginning of shipping and fulfillment.
May - Continued machining, finishing, shipping and fulfillment .
June - Machining, shipping, and fulfillment finishes for original rewards (the timeline could extend further for additional rewards).
Dice Performance (Did I make loaded dice by accident???)
A sample size of n = 100 was used for each dice. The distribution (assuming each event is independent) looks like it's converging toward a uniform distribution. In conclusion, I think that the dice are fine.
I just graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with my Masters of Science in mechanical engineering with a focus in precision engineering and automation. I have also been machining for the past 7 years (11 if you count using tools to make FRC robots in high school), starting as a machine shop assistant at UH and then running my own machines, slowly getting deeper in the world of CNC. Currently, I work as a full time engineer at a small local engineering firm that develops chemical detection cameras. In my spare time I mentor my alumni robotics team their FRC season, take on commissioned machining jobs, develop biomedical devices, read articles about new science breakthroughs, and spend time watching Game of Thrones and Marvel movies with friends and family.
Risks and challenges
This is my 4th Kickstarter project, so I am quite familiar with the experience and process. The manufacturing process has been developed and should require minimal further tweaking. The main risks lie in the reliability of the machines in each process as well as sourcing the material in a timely manner, each a low risk.
Tormach typically does a good job addressing technical issues and keeping critical components on hand should something like a driver burn out. I also have a spare CNC machine that can make the dice. Back up suppliers for material have been identified with their price built into the rewards.
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