Introduction: 3D Printed Crystal Shard Puzzle

This crystal shard puzzle is easy to make and even easier to solve. You can adapt this design to make it cooler, harder to solve, or just have fun with different variations.

Step 1: Materials Needed

1) 3d printer. I have a CR-10 mini 3d printer but this object is small enough it should fit on many different types of 3d printer you might have access to at home, school or local library.

2) 3d printer filament. I used PLA filament to print this model. I've become a big fan of glittery PLAs. The glitter seems to help hide layer lines or make any under extrusions less noticeable. Basically your printer doesn't have to be perfectly calibrated and you still get nice results. Plus your prints literally sparkle!

3) Slicer. You'll see I used Cura from Ultimaker (Cura) for this tutorial but you can use similar settings in a slicer of your choice.

4) Tinkercad Account ( This tutorial uses Tinkercad to design the puzzle. You can use other design programs to create something similar but this is a great beginner program that I love using.

Step 2: Where to Get the Design

If you just want to print the .stl file on your printer here are some links.

Tinkercad Link

Thingiverse Link


See the files linked below

Step 3: Design Your Own Base

The base is really simple to make.

Add the asteroid shape into the workspace. To do this instead of going to the right of the screen and adding a Tinkercad Basic Shape, you need to find the Shape Generator and select all. I found the asteroid as one of the last community shapes.

Once the asteroid ball is added to the workspace, think about the overall size you want for your base. My ball park was 100mm for the asteroid ball size.

The generator lets you pick a style; here are my settings:

Randomizer: 100

Coarseness: 1

# of Divisions: 30.

Then use a giant cube shape to split the asteroid in half. See the screenshot above.

Now set your base to the side and we will begin to work on the crystals.

***I got this excellent idea from AlexT306 Instructable on how to make a 3D Printed Castle Planter.The asteroid shape was created by Brandon Cole (Community shapes).

Step 4: Crystal Design Part 1

I chose to make 4 crystals for this puzzle. I started with one and completed it, then moved on to the next crystal using the same method.

I figured the crystal would be about 100mm tall and 30mm wide as a place to start.

I like to start with a cylinder. Then I cut out a polygon by using large rectangle prisms (set to hole) going the entire height of the cylinder. I group the items so that the curved cylinder is all faceted.

You could simply extrude a pentagon or hexagon or similar equal sided shape, but I like making the sides on my own so I can change angles and lengths of sides.

Step 5: Crystal Design Part 2

The second part of the crystal design is to make cuts out of the base.

I usually do this one rectangle prism hole at a time. But if you look at the image above, it gives a sense of how you go around the crystal making "cuts" at slightly different angles and rotations to get a more crystal-like shape.

Key Points:

1. The crystal needs to be designed so that about half way down the crystal continues to get more narrow. If you design it in a way where a side gets more wide at the base then it won't work as a puzzle piece later on.

2. Make sure your rectangle prism hole is big enough to make a complete cut through the shape. Sometimes you may get little stray ledges you didn't intend. Just undo and make adjustments.

3. If you leave the very bottom big enough, in my case about 15mm, and flat, you can print the crystals standing up on your 3d printer.

Step 6: Crystal Design Part 3

Complete the top of the crystal.

Completing the top is much like completing the bottom. Move around the shape using the rectangular prism as a hole and creating facets by using the group feature in Tinkercad.

Once you've completed the first crystal, design the rest. Each time I try to change little parameters to give each crystal a unique look but they all stay roughly the same size.

Next, it's time to combine the puzzle pieces.

Step 7: Crystal Puzzle Combination With Tolerances

Now you are ready to orient your puzzle pieces on the base.

There is one very important consideration you need to adjust for first. We need to create some tolerance or "wiggle room" between the crystal and the hole in the base so that the crystal can slide into place.

To add tolerance, I found this simple step works for this puzzle but you may need to experiment with other variations.

Take each crystal and duplicate it. Take the solid duplicate and make it a hole. Now increase the overall size length, width and height by 1mm on each dimension. This creates a slightly bigger crystal and we can add this hole shape to the base and once printed, everything will fit together nicely.

When adding the crystals to the base, compose in a way that you think makes a nice composition but also doesn't connect to another crystal. You can double-check any errors in the slicer preview.

Also, you'll want your crystals as close as you can get to the bottom of the base without leaving a hole at the bottom of the base.

Step 8: Print Your Design

Print the Base

See the slicer picture for some of my settings (.2mm layer height). It does not need supports and I didn't use any brim or raft for bed adhesion.

**The best thing to check before printing is to go to your slicer layer preview and make sure none of the crystal walls connect. Lower and raise the layer preview to verify that you are in the clear. The base takes a long time to print, about 6 hours on my printer.

Print the Crystals

The crystals are really quick prints. I used a brim to keep them secured to the bed. You could print them one at a time or all-at-once. These crystals worked without supports or infill.

Now enjoy!

Bring balance to the universe and restore harmony to world by inserting the mystic crystals into their correct locations.

3D Printed Contest

Runner Up in the
3D Printed Contest