Printable Interlocking Puzzle #3 - Level 4 by Bram Cohen

by richgain, published

Printable Interlocking Puzzle #3 - Level 4 by Bram Cohen by richgain Jan 1, 2013

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I am proud to present a new Printable Interlocking Puzzle Cube, but this time I didn't design it.

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."

His first attempt was a level 2 puzzle cube but that was quickly superseded by this very clever level 4 design.

EDIT: (23/12/2014) Thanks to a great piece of work by mateddy (see http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:569118) I can finally make this puzzle available in OpenSCAD format.


I have opted to export this puzzle with a unit size of 8 mm to give a slightly larger puzzle.

  1. Print at a fine resolution so that the sides of the pieces are as smooth as possible.

  2. Assemble.

  3. Design a new version with a level higher than 4.

  4. Feel smug.

Completed 1 and 2.

Still working on 3 and 4.

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That was a delightful puzzle! Thank you so much for sharing this design. :-)

Very nice model. Printing it as a gift

Very nice model. Printing it as a gift

Fits perfectly, a great modell, kids love it, thank you so much!

The mark of a well-tuned printer! Glad you enjoyed it.

i'm finding hard to put it together, can you tell me how?

Try starting with the two H shaped pieces back-to-back in the middle. Then start feeding the C shaped pieces into the slots.

(Edited because I had C and H the wrong way round. Sorry!)

I like this one so much that I started to wonder how hard it is to design something like this. I came to a conclusion that it is indeed hard (at least for me) :). It made me design my own, much simpler level 1 puzzle - http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1270128

I really like puzzles published by you @richgain and you seem to be an expert on this matter, so any feedback from you would be extremely valuable to me. I plan to try to go level up when I have some time.

comboy's puzzle #1
by comboy

Amazing design (the fact that no bottom is outside). I think I got addicted to those and I'm running out of them.

Thanks a lot for providing it!


I'm struggeling with the solution. Could somebody possibly help me? Is it correct, that this puzzle onyl consists from this 4 pieces?

If you made these in something like OpenSCAD, then would you be willing to share your code file? On my printer these pieces are really tight and I'd like to adjust the clearance and try to print again.

Hi mathgrrl
I'm afraid I didn't make them in OpenSCAD but the good news is that the software I use is parametric. Grab yourself a copy of Burr Tools, a free burr puzzle designing and solving application. Then download the .xmpuzzle file which I have uploaded here and load it into Burr Tools. You can then use the export STL function to create new files with any cube size, bevel size and offset tolerance.
Alternatively, for a simpler fix try scaling the puzzle up in your slicer - this will have the effect of scaling up the offset and making the pieces looser.

Great puzzle! This is one of the only puzzles I've seen where taking it apart presents a comparable challenge to putting it together. I need to print a second copy, as I'm sure my original will be "borrowed" for extended periods of time.

Have you looked at Stewart Coffin's puzzles?

Sure have.
Stewart Coffin is highly respected in the puzzle community both for his designs and his craftsmanship.
I first made a copy of his Convolution puzzle out of wood about 30 years ago but don't really have the necessary degree of wood-working skills to do it well. 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.