Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
Dice that are precision CNC machined from metal alloys used in engineering
Dice that are precision CNC machined from metal alloys used in engineering
142 backers pledged $3,422 to help bring this project to life.
Last updated

About

Dice made from engineering metal alloys project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

Dice made from engineering metal alloys

$3,422

142


Dice with or without the metal alloy engraving
Dice with or without the metal alloy engraving

Summary

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. 

6061-T6 Aluminum Alloy
6061-T6 Aluminum Alloy
C360 H02 Brass
C360 H02 Brass

Mass

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)

Story

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

The six CNC machining setups required to make the dice.
The six CNC machining setups required to make the dice.

Gif of a simulation of CNC machining operation 1 sped up, a lot.
Gif of a simulation of CNC machining operation 1 sped up, a lot.
Dice blanks after operation 1
Dice blanks after operation 1
Dice blanks after operation 1. Small production run.
Dice blanks after operation 1. Small production run.
Each dice will be checked dimensionally with a Mitutoyo micrometer. The manufacturing process isn't successful 100% of the time (none are) so quality control involves measuring and tracking trends.
Each dice will be checked dimensionally with a Mitutoyo micrometer. The manufacturing process isn't successful 100% of the time (none are) so quality control involves measuring and tracking trends.
No, really, I'll be (albeit quickly) measuring each one because a random or systematic error (like tool wear) will produce a dice that doesn't meet tolerances like this every so often.
No, really, I'll be (albeit quickly) measuring each one because a random or systematic error (like tool wear) will produce a dice that doesn't meet tolerances like this every so often.

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.

Stone washed
Stone washed

Custom Engraving

I am currently offering custom text engraving on side 1. There is enough space for 2 lines with a single font (simplex) that is 0.1" tall. 

Custom engraving is currently being offered for non engraved dice at $3 per dice (so yes, you can have a unique engraving on each dice at only $3 each!). 

There is enough space for about size capital Ws so "WWWWWW". I can tweak it a bit to make it fit but just use that as a benchmark. 

To get custom engraving simply add another $3 to your pledge for every dice that you want custom engraved and in the survey that will be sent out once funding has finished there will be a small text box where you can describe what engraving you want. For example, "First aluminum dice, line 1 "Grant", line 2 "Takara". 

Example custom engraving
Example custom engraving

If there are any problems with incorrect pledge amount we can work it later via Paypal, etc. 

All manufacturing is done within the USA. 

Image from https://www.goodfreephotos.com/vector-images/made-in-the-usa-flag-stars-and-stripes-vector-clipart.png.php
Image from https://www.goodfreephotos.com/vector-images/made-in-the-usa-flag-stars-and-stripes-vector-clipart.png.php

Timeline

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)

Example backup Google form (in case the Kickstarter one isn't sufficient enough). I can't preview the forms in its entirety until the project is successful. The link to the Google form will be sent in an update should the Kickstarter form be insufficient for the scope of this project.
Example backup Google form (in case the Kickstarter one isn't sufficient enough). I can't preview the forms in its entirety until the project is successful. The link to the Google form will be sent in an update should the Kickstarter form be insufficient for the scope of this project.

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???)

The performance of each metal alloy dice vs conventional 16mm Monopoly dice. Each dice is tumbled in closed hands then thrown into a Monopoly box.
The performance of each metal alloy dice vs conventional 16mm Monopoly dice. Each dice is tumbled in closed hands then thrown into a Monopoly box.

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.

About me

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.

Thank you for checking out my project!

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 5 or more About US$ 5

    Early Bird

    Early Bird Special! Dice
    Choose which dice that you want and in the quantity that you want! $5 for each aluminum dice (1pc), $7 for each brass dice (1pc). An online ordering form will be sent to you via Kickstarter (email) after the project has been funded.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    Limited 138 backers
    $

    By pledging you agree to Kickstarter's Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Cookie Policy.

    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 9 or more About US$ 9

    Dice ($9 for aluminum, $11 for brass)

    Choose which dice that you want and in the quantity that you want! $9 for each aluminum dice (1pc), $11 for each brass dice (1pc). Free shipping. An online ordering form will be sent to you via Kickstarter (email) after the project has been funded.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 2 backers
    $

    By pledging you agree to Kickstarter's Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Cookie Policy.

    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (25 days)