Poly-Snaps: Tiles for Building Polyhedra

by mathgrrl, published

Poly-Snaps: Tiles for Building Polyhedra by mathgrrl Dec 20, 2013

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These tiles snap together to make polyhedra of any type you wish! Regular, semi-regular, truncated, stellated, or freaky; you decide.

Customize your own with the "Open in Customizer" button or download pre-made sets of compact or light Poly-Snap tiles. The compact tiles are the blue, white, and black ones in the main picture; they are sturdy and difficult to snap together, so they make very strong models you can toss around. The light tiles are larger and shown in the red picture; these are easier to take apart and put together and print up very quickly, but the models are a little less sturdy.

Depending on your printer and the filament, temperature, elevation from sea level, day of the week, etc, you may need different tolerances for your snaps; you can modify this in the Customizer.
A few technical notes and tips are listed in the Instructions tab.

Detailed walkthroughs of how we used OpenSCAD to make Poly-Snaps to construct particular models are at the links below.
Truncated Tetrahedron
Truncated Octahedron
Snub Cube


Unlike the tiles we used in http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:185859, these Poly-Snap tiles all have identical snap configurations. As long as you are trying to build an orientable surface this one configuration will suffice. The only trick is to make sure you don't attach them in the wrong orientation. On a Replicator 2 the Poly-Snaps print with a shiny side and a matte side; keep one type of finish on the inside of the model and one on the outside, and all your tiles will line up correctly.

You may have to snap and un-snap the tiles a few times to break them in; they get a bit looser over time. A pair of pliers can help snap them together the first time, if needed.

We suggest making the border size close to the thickness. Because of the way this model was constructed, you can't make completely solid tiles, and because of reality you can't have the border be larger than the radius, so make sure your border is small enough to fit within the tile. In our experience, clearance works well between .1 and .2, and lengthen works well between .3 and 1.2.


Twitter: twitter.com/mathgrrl
Hacktastic blog: www.mathgrrl.com/hacktastic
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This design and all associated pictures and files are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license. If you want to use designs, images, or files outside of the terms of this license, please email [email protected].

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I customized some pieces in hope of making a rhombicosidodecahedron. I thought it would work out, but the triangles wouldn't fit in. There wasn't enough space between the squares. The tips of the triangles got in the way. Have you had any luck with more complicated geometries?

Did you try the adjust-fit parameters in the Customizer? It may be that you just need a different fit for your printer or for the angle that things fit together. I'd think that the rhombicosidodecahedron shouldn't be harder than the simpler ones because it is still convex, and even more sphere-like... hopefully it is just clearances?

Plesse add support for Catalan solids as well!

I cannot wait to make these! They remind me of Zaks I played with as a kid.

Love it! Great design

Very nice design! Unfortunately, with ultimaker, the printouts are a bit loose... So, some reconsideration must be done in the scads, at least, for ulitmaker.

Have you tried the "Open in Customizer" button? From there you can change the "clearance" and "lengthen" parameters in the "Adjust Fit" tab. Decrease "clearance", and if you are making thin tiles then I suggest also increasing "lengthen".

It would be better if the edges had litte holes and knobs on them to really make them snap together

You are an unstoppable design machine. These are very nice.