Die Puzzle

by profhankd, published

Die Puzzle by profhankd Dec 10, 2013
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Die Puzzle by profhankd is licensed under the Creative Commons - Attribution license.

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The author of Thing 31685 mentioned it was inspired by a circa 1893 puzzle book, which led me to read that book online. There, I stumbled on the "Spots" puzzle, http://archive.org/stream/puzzlesoldnew00hoff#page/98/mode/1up , in which an oversized die is cut into nine simple blocks. The surprisingly difficult problem is to reassemble the die.
My version takes advantage of the fact that 3D printing can easily build more complex shapes. First, the dots are not merely painted, but are conical hollows. Second, rather than having the internal edges be simple cuts, I have introduced an interlocking pattern of conical hollows and bumps. This makes the assembled die hold together somewhat, but the puzzle is at least as difficult to solve because the internal and external hollows look identical -- I even painted them identically.
I also made the die face pattern match the modern dice I had at home. All dice have opposing faces sum to 7, but the book's face pattern is slightly different from my design.
In the 20131213 version, I've added a little 3D-printed box to hold the assembled die and rotated a few of the pieces to make print quality less slicer-dependent (no holes on top, because cura doesn't place fill wisely). The box serves to hold the assembled die together and as a reference for the dot placement while assembling the puzzle, but the box itself is also a little puzzle -- how does it open?


This is a very easy print using either PLA or ABS with typical settings and minimal fill. I designed it to be printed at 2/3 the scale given here, but such small parts simply do not feel as nice when attempting to solve the puzzle. The parts given here build a die which is roughly 45mm on each side. There is a tolerance built-into the design to allow for some roughness in the print, but the design can be scaled up or down quite a bit without major issues. The paint inside the conical hollows of the blue version is simply flat white latex, which sticks well enough due to the texture of the extruded PLA; the black die is made out of ABS with white appliance touch-up paint. The black hollows of the white version were dyed using a black permanent marker. The 20131213 version has the same die parts (in a potentially better-printing orientation), but also includes a box for the die which has dots to be painted the same way.
By far the easiest way to assemble the die puzzle is to closely examine the assembled-with-gaps 3D design I've included here just for this purpose -- don't try to print diepuzzle45mmAssembled.stl . The file to print for puzzle+box is diepuzzle20131213_flat.stl , but you can print just the puzzle as diepuzzle20131213_flat_pieces.stl and just the box as diepuzzle20131213_flat_box.stl . Hint: I find the puzzle is easier to solve by building the three layers separately, stacking them as the final step. Despite having only 9 pieces, it is not an easy puzzle to solve, and can deliver hours of painful frustration. ;-)
Note that this size puzzle contains parts that could be a choking hazard, so it isn't for toddlers. Trust me... they wouldn't enjoy it anyway. My 12-year-old daughter is generally very fast with such puzzles, and she likes it, but it still took her something like 20 minutes to solve it.
As for the box added in the 20131213 version, there is also a little trick to open the sliding door. When you slide the door closed, a little oval bump on it will gently click against the front edge of the box, locking it closed. The door is printed top-down on our M2's glass bed, so it's smooth enough to give no grip when closed. To open it, quickly turn the loaded box so that the die inside gently lands on the sliding door, popping the oval's edge from against the inside of the lip and letting the door slide open freely. If you close the box with nothing inside, it will be a lot harder to open.... The latch might also stick somewhat if your printer isn't as precise as our M2.

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Love this. I started a bit of a Christmas tradition of giving my daughter a 3D printed puzzle of some sort. . She also has an extensive dice collection. This will be perfect for this year's puzzle!

I think this is the best of the puzzles I've designed. That said, you might get a kick out of perhaps the hardest 2-piece puzzle, https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1542564

I ran across http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:186372, but it wasn't toleranced right. I couldn't see an easy way to fix it. However, one of my undergrad students, Zachary Snyder, figured it out almost immediately and wrote parametric OpenSCAD code to do it right. I added the customizer support to his code, and that's what's posted as https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1542564 : Tunable Tolerance Tetrahedron Twist Timewasting Toy.

Tunable Tolerance Tetrahedron Twist Timewasting Toy
Five screw-puzzles by George Hart

My son and I love this Thing, it's a great puzzle.
Thank you!
We've printed two sets so far.
I would like to print a container box separately form the Die but can't figure out how to edit the file in order to do so.
Would it be possible for you to post the file for just the box?

Ok, done. Print diepuzzle20131213_flat_box.stl . It's really easy to separate things using tools like cura (right click, "split object into parts," then DELete the parts you don't want), but I did it for you. ;-)

Thank you very much, I really do appreciate you doing this for me.
I will be sure to look into cura, as well.

Is there any chance of getting individual files for the pieces? I somehow lost one piece and I don't want to reprint the whole thing if I don't have to.

it's a great puzzle - thanks!

Most slicers have an option to split a design into individual parts, and you can then delete the parts you don't want. Maybe I'll convert this to a customizer design with the individual-part option... the original is OpenSCAD code anyway.

I'm using Dimension CatalystEX with a Uprint printer and I can't seem to cut the STL at all. And my company uses Inventor as opposed to OpenSCAD, so I'm not sure how much luck I'll have manipulating the source file. Thanks though.

Shoot! You're right. I've posted a sitting-flat version. BTW, it's easy to fix this using cura.

hi i am having trouble printing the puzzle and box at the same time because it only starts printing the puzzle pieces on layer 2 is there any chance you can upload an stl of just the box thank you

I will photograph this thing as soon as I solve the puzzle! It IS much more difficult than it looks. :)

die puzzle ist cool

I will definitely make some of these puzzles this Christmas!