Richard Gain is a doctor but also a self-confessed lover of puzzles. Richard has had a life-long interest in collecting, making and solving mechanical puzzles and has now established his own small puzzle designing and manufacturing business — microcubology — using 3D printing another passion of his. “One of the things I find so exciting about the arrival of affordable 3D printing is the democratisation of puzzle making. However, not all designs are printable (without the use of support material which messes up the faces) hence my latest foray into designing ‘printable’ interlocking puzzles.”
On the first day of the new year Richard uploaded a new, printable, interlocking puzzle cube to Thingiverse. This is not one that he designed personally, but it got his attention due to its level of difficulty and printability. This is a fascinating discipline and an excellent application for 3D printing it seems.
Richard explains, “Following the release of PIP#2, I was contacted by Bram Cohen (puzzle designer and author of the BitTorrent protocol) asking whether I had found any printable interlocking puzzle cube designs with a level higher than 1 — i.e. needing more than a single move to take the first piece out.
This sounded like a great challenge and I set about about trying to design one but then Bram beat me to it — not once but twice. As Bram commented in his email, “the main thing causing difficulties is that the printed bottom of the pieces can’t be facing the outside directly, because then they can just be pulled off as the first move, but because the bottom must by definition have the most voxels, putting those on the interior makes it very hard to fill up all the external voxels and not stuff shut the internal voxels.”
Bram’s first design and print attempt was a level 2 puzzle cube, but that was quickly superseded by this very clever level 4 design, which is now available, with full instructions on Thingiverse for any DIYers.
Richard’s plan involves designing a new version of the puzzle – higher than level 4.
Look forward to seeing it materialize![nggallery id=34]