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Liquidmetal Technologies Chess?

 
Liquidmetal Chess Piece Rendering Artistic

We have updated these designs.  Please see the new blog here.

We receive many requests to purchase something made of Liquidmetal alloy, especially from those who have handled samples and are struck by the unique look and feel of this unusual material.  To be clear, the company remains focused on core markets with potential for significant scale. Promising prototypes in various applications are progressing through iterative development and testing, including Defense, Golf, Medical, Oil & Gas, and Automotive industries, among others.

But interest in a Liquidmetal alloy Chess set is an idea that has been suggested independently so many times that we decided to test the concept. Our summer intern, Cassidy Stevick, designed a set and rendered the images shown below.

Beyond frank and honest feedback on the designs themselves, we would like to know whether there is significant interest in purchasing pieces or sets.

If you'd like to contact us directly regarding this or other opportunities, please follow this link:

And so, without further ado, we present some of the Liquidmetal alloy Chess set concept renderings:

Full line up of the pieces
Liquidmetal Chess Lineup
Starting position
Liquidmetal Chess Full Board
Chess game in progress
Liquidmetal Chess Game Position KvW
Alternative King Designs
Liquidmetal Chess King Options
Artistic viewLiquidmetal Chess Artistic View

Please post your comments below.

Comments

your gonna have trouble with some of the bases on the players chess players don,t like the men falling over all the time you need to keep all the bases the same with the same diameter your asking for trouble any other way. chess is a uniform game people can,t concentrate if thier players are fallin over
Posted @ Monday, July 08, 2013 1:04 PM by mike
A Liquidmetal chess set - I like the concept, but the design of some of the pieces are too "existential." It is a set that I might like to display, but not one I would want to play chess with.
Posted @ Monday, July 08, 2013 1:04 PM by Larry W Denmark, MD
altering the character of the pieces can also be a problem just keep it simple and let the liquid metal speak for itself. try powder coating one side in black that would look super cool with the silver grey it would blend perfect with your board as well. then you would have a chess set wort playing.
Posted @ Monday, July 08, 2013 1:12 PM by mike lazar
Thanks for your comments!  
 
Larry, can you explain what you mean by "existential"? Which pieces in particular? 
 
Mike, we're trying to consider several aspects in this design, and balance is one of them. The ones with a small base have a very low centre of gravity - we don't yet know whether that will be sufficient. When you say "keep it simple", what design features did you have in mind?
Posted @ Monday, July 08, 2013 1:44 PM by Glenton Jelbert
Applying "high tech" in the "low tech" market, i.e. decorative or consumable, is definitely a good direction. Hologram is a example for you.
Posted @ Monday, July 08, 2013 2:00 PM by Morgan Tsai
If you guys make a chess set (with uniform pieces) I would buy it.
Posted @ Monday, July 08, 2013 2:08 PM by Jerry
Hi Jerry. Thanks for that indication! When you say "uniform pieces" what do you have in mind?
Posted @ Monday, July 08, 2013 2:09 PM by Glenton Jelbert
Glenton, chess is a game of tactics and depends upon one's ability to conceptualize the "battle field" in terms of where one's forces are and how they relate to the distribution and position of the opponent's pieces. It helps to have unambiguous pieces, each of which clearly representing it's position and rank on the chess board.  
 
The pieces are wonderfully artistic, but I might have difficulty distinguishing pawns from Bishops. The Castles (Rooks) look nothing like those of more conventional designs and I find that distracting. Which is the King and which is the Queen? Other than their starting positions on the board, I find it nearly impossible to know which is which. At least the Knights have enough resemblance to their classic counterparts to be recognizable. 
 
It is important to concentrate on the game, rather than on deciphering who's who on the game board. I'm sure that in time, I would become quite familiar with the pieces, but as of now, I find the design beautiful but distracting.
Posted @ Monday, July 08, 2013 2:22 PM by Larry W Denmark, MD
I'm with Larry, beautiful aesthetics - remarkable, actually - but IMVHO, the design should be more in line with actual pieces. It is difficult to say that knowing the pieces are absolutely stunning, but I would have to agree with Larry's assessment. Thank you.
Posted @ Monday, July 08, 2013 3:10 PM by Steve
Looks very pretty, but some of the pieces don't seem to be designed with manufacturability in mind. Specifically the queens and rooks look especially challenging.
Posted @ Monday, July 08, 2013 4:23 PM by Doug
I think queen is the best demonstration for the special of liquid metal's properties. I like it.
Posted @ Monday, July 08, 2013 5:41 PM by Morgan
Thanks for your comments. It's great to hear that people love the aesthetics. It seems that there's some desire for more traditional shapes. 
 
Doug, one of the design criteria was manufacturability. We wanted to shape our designs with early feedback from the community, but all of the pieces were designed to be manufactured with a straight pull from our molding process. 
 
We haven't got the same base on all the pieces, because they are following a specific theme. It seems that the theme may not be clear enough though... 
 
I've played chess with several designs beyond Staunton. My own view was that this design was far more comprehensible than some of the abstract designs out there! My heuristic is: 
King: cross on top & tallest 
Queen: knobble on top & tall 
Rook: ramparts on a tower 
Knight: equine 
Bishop: Similar to a pawn, but with more ruffles 
Pawn: smallest - our pawn has a similar morphology to the staunton pawn, except for the collar. 
 
We tried (and perhaps failed) to tie the above morphology in with the theme we were following.
Posted @ Monday, July 08, 2013 5:46 PM by Glenton Jelbert
Glenton, thank you for the explanation. I now fully understand and can appreciate the design features. 
 
The King is a truly beautiful piece and I would love to have one for it's sheer elegance alone. I just didn't recognize the cross as being a cross. That is what I was referring to by describing the chess set as being too existential; i.e., each individual determines the meaning of things for himself (Kierkegaard)... especially when the representation of an object or of an idea is removed from the familiar. 
 
Similarly, the ramparts on the Rook became instantly recognizable as such, but only after I read your description. 
 
So on second thought, I am enthralled by the artistic genius in the representation of the pieces, and I wouldn't be so quick to change the design. Now that I understand it, I really love it.
Posted @ Monday, July 08, 2013 6:24 PM by Larry W Denmark, MD
Glenton,  
The concept is promising, and I personally like a few of the pieces. On the whole though I would prefer something that nods its head more towards the classic.  
 
The queen and the rooks are my concerns - both with the small base.  
 
The queen looks more like an arum lily than anything else. The image on the right of the alternate design kings looks like a much better queen to me.  
 
The rook looks too fluid. You may see ramparts, but I just see a flower with those soft organic lines. Definitely think the rook needs to be more solid.  
 
Would like the bishops to taper up a little, and for the knight to be a bit more equine.
Posted @ Monday, July 08, 2013 6:28 PM by Paul
My first thought was the bases of some pieces looked too small. But if they will stand up easily I'd love to buy a set and eagerly whack other pieces off with my tiny based King. 
 
If the center of gravity is low enough on those pieces then I think the pices look dramatic and I don't need to see a perfect horse face or cross on top of a piece to know how it moves.
Posted @ Monday, July 08, 2013 6:36 PM by Scott
If you do decide to do a production run, I would be interested.
Posted @ Wednesday, July 17, 2013 1:10 PM by Dilip John
Its a beautiful set no doubt about it... and i agree with paul, the king and the rook need to ne more solid... and the queen and the rook need a bigger base... they look like a small nudge could make them fall... ( always happens in a chess game)the knight, pawn and bishop look beautiful... if you do end up with these changes i am buying this chess set
Posted @ Thursday, July 18, 2013 3:18 AM by Aditya
These are quite beautiful! However, if you were to make pieces that were more traditional in appearance, I would be first in line to buy a set. JMO.
Posted @ Thursday, July 18, 2013 7:34 AM by Sheila
I think the pieces look great as is. The whole point of liquid metal is to look liquid isn't it? Well those certainly look liquid to me. I think it would be really boring if they looked like traditional chess pieces, and it's not too hard to figure out which pieces are what. I can totally see this being used for casual games between friends etc. as long as te slender pieces stay up. I'd like one but I have a feeling it would be quite expensive?
Posted @ Friday, July 19, 2013 7:56 PM by Shawn
The designer is obviously not a chess player. Stick to the classic Staunton Design, add some flair or variation, and you're in. I'd buy it.
Posted @ Saturday, July 20, 2013 10:10 AM by Steve Wilson
What i like about your chess set is the visual fluidity of the pieces. I agree with the suggestions about the bases. My favorite piece is the pawn. I would suggest that useing more liquid based forms (eg. High speed fotos of liquid splashes) to remodel the Rook, Queen, and Knight to bring them closer to a chess norm eg. Handling in play without loosing the flow. Pointed bottoms could end up in a pool, like smooth tap water entering a calm body of water. Nice concept you have there and it fits in with your company name.
Posted @ Monday, July 22, 2013 10:18 AM by Thorkild Thøgersen
Why not start making pieces one at a time starting with the KING and let us purchases pieces as they become available.
Posted @ Monday, July 22, 2013 1:10 PM by Doug
Looks like a great design and showcase for liquid metal. I can't wait to see what the future holds as I'm fairly certain golf clubs will not be the apogee for your incredible material. Glenton, I have to second Mike's opinion regarding insufficient base - at least on the queen. I do like the aesthetics of her slender form but I fear her center of gravity is higher than you think and predict her final design will require modification. Since thin strands of liquid metal are so strong, it's always possible stability in the queen or elsewhere could be achieved via a second point of contact with the board such as a staff etc. 
 
Great work! 
Posted @ Monday, July 22, 2013 4:43 PM by Scott H
If the chess set isn't absurdly priced due to the metal, it's totally worth it. Chess pieces often break but some indestructible ones would really say something.
Posted @ Tuesday, July 23, 2013 3:31 AM by Wyatt
look you can dress it up all you want it won,t matter it will still be confusing to play with altered pieces. chess is a mindset not checkers. if you want a novelty make this set if you want a true chess set you must build the pieces that are internationally recognized.if you take those players like that to another country europe saudi Arabia ore the middle east.they won,t play with a game that looks like that period because they won,t understand.
Posted @ Tuesday, July 23, 2013 2:35 PM by mike lazar
I'm thinking you want to make a statement with this project, not a profit. The statement is about how different Liquidmetal technology is? The complex shapes possible? A traditional set will not show that. If you make it in a traditional pattern it will be just another chess set made of a different material. A really cool material, but just another set. Liquidmetal is different, not traditional - the set should reflect that. 
Chess sets are looked at far more than they are played, and people who play a lot usually have favorite sets they use - How may serious players would buy a traditional set to use, versus casual players who would buy the Stevick design to display, do you think? 
And - Hopefully you'll get some product image exposure. I bet you'd get much more with the Stevick design. I guess chess websites and magazines would run pictures of a traditional style set, but who else would? The Stevick set would look great in the background of a classy library or such, and will likely end up in a movie or TV show or two. A traditional set won't.  
The Stevick design is attractive and unique, which is hard to pull off after centuries of designs. I had no trouble recognizing the pieces, and my wife didn't either. 
 
Your company is awesome, it's like Rearden Metal! 
 
I'll buy an artistic style set if I can afford it. 
 
Posted @ Saturday, July 27, 2013 12:37 AM by MrHeeHee
who cares what statement he wants to make this is not a private company.this is a puplic company backed by its stockholders, their interest is in making money period. anyone with a good 3d printer could come up with just as many fantastic designs as this one.if you want to show off the liquid metal product i suggest you incorporate it into something the public can use to make money like armoured piercing bullets or tools to use in space on the Hubble space telescope.maybe in fracking or the oil industry.as for the weekend chess playing couple good for them they can recognize the pieces. most people won,t and the game wpould become useless before it,s even made. you made your point with one set leave it at that as a wow factor can you really do that stuff with this. and lets move on to something we all can use with a wow factor to its stock holders.
Posted @ Saturday, July 27, 2013 8:54 AM by mike lazar
Hi All. Thanks for your comments. We're certainly not thinking of doing this at a loss. It's possible to find sets that are not staunton and are not inexpensive ( eg. http://app.thechessstore.com/category/00027-metal-chess-pieces.2-staunton-metal-chess-pieces/) 
 
Mike, our contract manufacturer has a good 3d metal printer, and it's not as easy as you might expect! 
 
We are also pushing as hard as we can on other promising applications. Adopting new materials and new technologies for mission critical applications requires extensive testing. The appealing thing about a chess set is that we have sufficient testing already.
Posted @ Monday, July 29, 2013 10:30 AM by Glenton Jelbert
i can understand that and wish you well on your endeavours . but your turning your product into a novelty .instead of going after making things with practical applications that could revolutionize the metals industry. i know i could come up with a couple of ideas for liquid metal if i had the dimensions of its properties .and it,s limitations on size. but by no means do i mean to belittle the chess set just my opinion thats all sincerly mike lazar
Posted @ Monday, July 29, 2013 11:46 AM by mike lazar
Hi Mike. Thanks again for sharing your concern, and your point is well noted.  
 
We would welcome your ideas! The design guide may be downloaded here:  
 
Design guide 
Posted @ Monday, July 29, 2013 4:45 PM by Glenton Jelbert
Love the idea! Great marketing. Might be pricey so the "collector pieces" may work. (Sometimes side projects shed light on the main production products but don't lose focus). Like the feel & sound of 2x & 3x weighted Staunton pieces; these seem lightweight. Q & Kt easily tipped without a decent base. Hard to differentiate the colors. Wondering about the board "feel". Design should be artistic but practical. Since Q has powers of both B & R and already resembles R, why not add B-like small sphere on top of 'stamen' to Q? (Although I like the calla lilly)
Posted @ Tuesday, August 06, 2013 7:57 PM by RobertC
Glenton, with all due respect, a chess set is great and it looks great, but LQMT hasn't even shipped one product yet. Aren't resources/expenses better served to things other than developing a chess set?
Posted @ Thursday, August 08, 2013 5:16 PM by Richard T
Hi Richard. Thanks for sharing your concern. My view is that this is something that is relatively light touch (our engineers are not involved, and the expense has been minimal so far), but that could lead to a profitable contract that gives us useful experience in a controlled manner. In some ways practicing for the bigger contracts that we're still working on. 
 
Other parts that we're working on are for mission critical applications, and introducing a new material into the medical or aerospace industries necessarily takes considerable time for testing. My hope would be that we can test our production supply chain, try out some advanced tooling, and make something that people like, without the same stringent testing requirements. 
 
We're acutely aware of the possibility that this becomes a distraction, which is why we're exploring it with the community before we invest more heavily.
Posted @ Thursday, August 08, 2013 7:21 PM by Glenton Jelbert
Glenton, understood. Thank you for your timely response.
Posted @ Friday, August 09, 2013 6:24 AM by Richard T
I am a chess player, we tend to like 100% traditional horses, etc. with good weight and sized for a professional size chess board. Your design amazing art.  
I worked in the aero space industry, making precision parts for high tec gear. Your material could be molded to the high tolerances needed in many of the applications I monitored. The finishing of ceramic molds with aluminum (strong formula) was extensive and costly. So many uses, hope you get some great contracts. You need a good revenue stream to live. Do you have any active projects close to completion?bb 
Posted @ Wednesday, August 28, 2013 10:09 PM by paul Spector
Hi Paul. Thanks for your comments. You may be interested in our updated designs, incorporating much of the feedback from here. You'll find them here:  
Liquidmetal Chess Reworked
Posted @ Thursday, August 29, 2013 11:06 AM by Glenton Jelbert
For production of the types of parts suitable for Liquidmetal allows, is powder metallurgy a direct competitor, or are they complementary technologies?
Posted @ Wednesday, September 11, 2013 11:40 AM by Allister
Hi Allister. MIM is a bit of both. There's a lot of overlap in the manufacturing technique. Our precision tends to be higher (nearest to net cast) because our shrinkage is around 0.2%, while MIM is 10-20%. MIM has made some great advances, but for example a canard has part-to-part tolerances that are very hard for MIM to meet. We hope that many MIM manufacturers will install Liquidmetal capabilities in the future as a complement to their existing capabilities. 
 
See here for a comparison. 
 
See here for our case study into canards.
Posted @ Wednesday, September 11, 2013 2:51 PM by Glenton Jelbert
Hi Glenton and All, 
 
Is LQMT being represented at the Las Vagas Electronics Trade Show.? If so, I might fly out there and say 
"Hello". Thanks. Good Luck. Happy New Year!!! 
 
Sockholder
Posted @ Wednesday, January 08, 2014 12:28 PM by Tom Aye
Hi Tom. Our reps tend to be focused on medical, aerospace and manufacturing. I've asked around and as far as I know none of our reps is going there.
Posted @ Wednesday, January 08, 2014 2:41 PM by Glenton Jelbert
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