Make #3 - Level 9 Acrylic Packing Puzzle

Posted by Jonathan Borders on

Jami asked me if I wanted to write about the puzzle I have been working on for the Make It March challenge.  Is it cheating if I do one of the days for her?  The jury is out on that one; I will let you decide.  

I have always enjoyed puzzles.  From the simple triangle peg game, to those metal rings people sit on their desk that you need to figure out how to separate.  Jami and I have also become rather addicted to escape rooms.  Before the pandemic we escaped from seven rooms and had a blast at every one.  

We invested in a laser cutter awhile ago thinking we might offer custom engraving through our site or sell custom made items.  We haven't had the time to pursue it yet but I wanted to try my hand at making a puzzle.  The puzzle I chose is a packing puzzle.  In essence you have a frame and you must fit all pieces into the frame.  Sounds easy right?  Well sometimes it is easier said than done.

I started designing the basic puzzle in Inkscape.  I based my puzzle off other puzzles I had seen in my research.  I wanted something simple and I found one designed by Jürgen Reiche.  I didn't like the presentation and wanted a more mysterious feel.  But first I needed to make sure the puzzle worked.  

I started printing prototypes.  Making sure only the one solution could be found.  I had Jami give it a shot.  She found a solution by forcing the pieces slightly which was incorrect.  I took note and had to adjust.  I also had a friend give it a go.  It stumped him for three hours until he finally was successful.  This was truly a difficult one.  The original designer rated this a level 9 puzzle (out of a 10 maximum difficulty).

Prototype

Now that I had the basic design down I wanted to pretty it up.  I knew I was going to use acrylic so I started thinking about hiring someone on Fiverr to do some designs for me.  I then found some free images online and tried them.  They just didn't turn out great.   Finally I just free handed some mystical looking designs on the pieces.  I tried cutting it on clear acrylic and it just didn't look right. I finally settled on neon blue for the pieces with a black base.  

Prototypes

Final

We are in the process of getting some puzzles in from Germany to add to our store and expand to some of the other designers as we can.  You can find my puzzle here if you like the way it turned out.  

Tomorrow Jami will be back again with Make #4.  Keep an eye out for that!


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