For this project I decided to explore the world and uses of 3D printing further after my exploration of the 3D printed iPhone cases market where I designed, created and now sell the 'TriStand iPhone Case - 3D printed iPhone cases with built in flip out stands'
which stretched the capabilities of 3D printing to the max. Near to Christmas last year I also used the amazing 'trapping' capabilities of 3D printing to my advantage when I designed, created and now also sell the 'Captured Snowflake - Christmas Ornament'.
This time I have used 3D printing for the creation of a one of a kind puzzle box that is solved like no other in the world: Centrifugal Puzzle Box (these designs were printed through a company called Shapeways based in the Netherlands and New York, a copy can also be bought and 3D printed for you here via Shapeways)-
This is a unique one of a kind 3D printed puzzle box that can store anything with dimensions of less than 39x39x13mm that is opened/solved in an intriguing way, by simply spinning the puzzle box on a flat surface will unlock the lid, however this is not made to be obvious:
On the lid of the box are six sliders of different shapes, these can slide along rails in the lid, there are also three buttons that can be pressed and released, however don't be fooled, these sliders and buttons have absolutely no purpose at all in helping solve the puzzle and open the box, these sliders and buttons are simply a distraction to confuse the user.
There is one clue towards the solution of opening this puzzle box for the user, firstly, you may have noticed the numbers around the top face of the lid, these are actually coded in the format of "A=1 B=2 C=3" and actually decode clockwise starting from the number after the small circle to read "give-me-a-rapid-spin-to-unlock-my-lid", this may seem hard to notice, and it is, however I have designed an optional additional clue towards finding this clue: This 3D printed key-ring
contains embedded within it, using a special wax trapped within the key-ring during the 3D printing process, a QR code and the word 'CLUE' above it (just to make it that bit more obvious), if the user is stuck while solving the Centrifugal Puzzle Box they can choose to reveal this clue by using an IOS device with a camera (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch 4g) to read the QR code by using a bar-code reader application (tested with an app called 'Scan') to reveal the text "A=1 B=2 C=3" on the device's display which should help the user decode the message on the puzzle's lid helping them to solve the puzzle and open the lid. The Mechanism -
The mechanism used inside this puzzle box is a unique one and is best described in the video above, there are six 6mm ball bearings (sourced off eBay) placed in the slots around the top face of the bottom half of the box, these ball bearings can move freely in their short channels, the lid has corresponding loops that lower into these channels when the lid is placed on. Once the lid is placed on and the box is given a shake, the ball bearings should all be at random points in their channels, some will be across these loops in the lid which will stop that loop from being pulled out which will stop the lid being removed thus locking the puzzle. When the puzzle is spun, all the ball bearings travel to the outside of their channel so none are obscuring the loops in the lid meaning the lid can now be freely removed which unlocks the puzzle.