Altoid Arcade




Introduction: Altoid Arcade

Greetings! My name is Andrew Duong and I’m a fourth year Mechanical Engineering major at San Jose State University and a member of our university’s American Society of Mechanical Engineers Club (ASME). I'm working with Tyler Erwin, another fourth year Mechanical Engineering major at SJSU and in ASME.

For this project, we wanted to repurpose empty Altoid tins as fun games to take on trips over the Summer. We also wanted to design a portable storage unit that could store the 4 Altoid Arcade games.

For this project, we decided to make marble labyrinth games, where you tilt the tin to navigate the ball around the maze and it's traps. Usually, there are pitfalls that the ball can fall into, which are the main obstacle to avoid. Using this process, one could use the same storage container and tins but design a different type of game!


  • Fusion 360 with Compatible Computer
  • 2kg 1.75mm PLA 3D Printer Filament
  • Any color is fine, though different colors is nice. You could try a different type of filament if you would like, but PLA works good for our purposes here.
  • We used Hatchbox Metallic PLA Filament (Yellow, Red, Orange, Green, Mint Green)
  • 3D Printer Access
  • Cura Slicer
  • 4 Altoid Cans
  • We used Cinnamon, Wintergreen, Peppermint, Spearmint
  • Caliper (Used for measuring the tin size and designing a base shell, which is provided in this instructable)

For Labyrinth Game:

Step 1: Measure the Altoid Tins

Before we started designing, we needed a shell that would fit snugly inside the tin, so we could just slide in the 3D print once they are fabricated.

Using a caliper, we measured the inner dimensions and bottom height of the Altoids tin the best we could, using the depth rod on the end as well. Then we compared those to the numerous measurements for these tins published online, since Altoids Tins are used so widely in projects. The most accurate ones we found were here.

Step 2: Design Base Shell and Test Fit

After we got the dimensions, we designed a base for the designs that would fit inside those dimensions. We did a simple design with just a floor and walls. The shell has 1mm thick walls.

Then we printed out one just to see if it fits right, before moving onto designing the actual games. It would be a shame if the game didn't fit inside after we take the time to print it after all. Ours fit quite snugly through the opening with the lip, though once in it did have move to room around.

Step 3: Starting the Designs

Our Marble Labyrinths were all based on games from a certain company. We built it off of the base shell design, so that it would definitely fit in the Altoids tin.

Major design features included:

  • A recessed starting and ending point to indicate to the player the goals
  • Set pieces that resembled objects from those games.
  • Extending the floor up a distance of 3/16" - 1mm, which would allow any pits to be the perfect depth to hold the balls.
  • Walls and obstacles that reached from the new floor to the top of the base shell, so that one could not just "jump" over most obstacles.
  • Many pits, obstacles, slopes, and traps.

One of the ways we designed these was to make separate parts in a new design, then adding them to the base shell to make an assembly. This is good for complicated "props", like the star blocks. For simple parts this is unnecessary, simply sketch and extrude from the base shell.

Step 4: Kirby Design

The Kirby design was the first design we attempted. It was intended it to be fairly easy, so the paths were pretty straightforward.

To start off, there were three props for this design, the Star, Kirby, and the Star Block. We made them as separate components to make the process simpler. For example, the Star Block has a very complicated sketch, so replicating the feature over and over again would be tedious. Instead it was better to have it as a separate component, which can be replicated and moved around easily.

This allowed us to make a guiding path out of the Star Blocks. We also added in the Star as a centerpiece and the Kirby as a decoration, before adding all the pitfall holes and the starting and ending indentations. The pitfall holes and starting and ending indentations were made with a sketch and extrusion directly on the base shell. We also made a sloped track in the middle to try to make navigation a bit more difficult.

We rearranged the props while I figure out the design, which is easy because they were separate components! It's best to use the align tool and joint planar tools to keep things in place or at certain locations. For example, the Star had a planar joint between it's bottom surface and the base shell floor.

Step 5: Mario Design

For the Mario design we wanted a large centerpiece that would add a lot of visual interest, so I made the Mario sprite and the bricks from Mario as giant props. This design was intended to be much harder and we wanted to experiment more, so we added a lot of experimental slopes and irregularly shaped holes. Most of this was done using methods established previously in the Kirby Design. For some slopes we used chamfers or fillets.

Step 6: Initial Prints

With the initial prints, we could see if the designs printed successfully and also play test the designs. They all fit perfectly, which was good. Placing a bearing ball, we tried to navigate our way from start to end. What we found was that our slopes and chamfers were too steep, and paths too thin. We took this as a lesson and added tolerances to future designs to allow for easier traversal.

Step 7: Zelda Design

The Zelda Design was one of the most complicated to design, it is based around the dungeons you would find in the game.

To accomplish this, we created the sketch of the grid directly on the floor and offset the grid lines to both sides to create the wall thickness before extruding. Equal spacing was key for this, so we used smart dimensions and driven dimensions, setting them equal, in order to get equal distances.

The block pillars were simple enough that it was much easier to simply draw them directly instead of using the component-placement method, and most other features were also drawn directly on. The only thing that were not is the Triforce that marks the end, which is a separate part. Note that all holes are now slightly larger than the ball and that any ledges now have slight slopes to keep the ball from going over too easily.

Step 8: Donkey Kong Design

This Donkey Kong design was one of the simplest in terms of level design and is actually one of our favorites for it's simplicity. The tricky part was cutting out all the triangles in the girders, which was accomplished using a rectangular pattern and mirrors. After getting those, we added more holes in the girder for the ball to fall down, and one way slopes to make it harder to cheat. The pitfalls have a diagonal crossbar to make them look like barrels!

Step 9: Second Round of Prints

These prints turned out great in quality, and the level design is much improved from the last round.

Step 10: Finalizing Mazes

After printing all the mazes, we placed them into the tins. We also decided to add the Altoids wrapping paper for visual flair! On top, we wanted to add a plexiglass covering to keep the ball in during play. To do this, first we bought thin plexiglass and cut it to shape using the original fitting base shell as a guide. Then, we pasted it on the designs using superglue on the top edges. With that, we have our labyrinth games finished!

Step 11: Designing the Mystery Block Storage

We also wanted to design a storage space for the games that matched the video game theme. One of our favorite games growing up was Mario, so we decided to model the Altoids storage after the mystery block from the popular series. Furthermore, we wanted to include that styling to each drawer as well, so we added a mystery symbol and level indicators.

No video game is complete without a secret or easter egg! We included one behind the Altoid tins, an Autodesk logo that serves as a secret storage compartment to put money or any other small items. The dimensions of the block wdetermined by the drawers, as the extruded cut allows for the drawers to sit inside of it. The final dimensions of the block ended up being 120 mm cubed with a 100 mm x 100 mm x 75 mm extruded cut to hold the drawers.

Step 12: Designing the Drawers

For the drawers, we wanted to create a level system that allowed for variation in themes. We had a lot of different filaments available in our club room in the metallic style, so we chose the red, orange, green, and mint green to represent each level. This allows us to match the colors of the labyrinth themselves. We added a label for each level and the question mark from the mystery block as a 0.025 in depth cut to each drawer. Measuring the tin’s outer dimensions, they were roughly 97 mm x 62.5 mm x 21.25 mm. We designed each drawer to be 100 mm x 75 mm x 25 mm in order to hold a tin with a bit of space left over. For the handles, we had a shelled rectangular cube attached to the drawer to pull on.

Step 13: Digital Assembly

We then utilized Fusion 360’s animation feature with the assembly to demonstrate the storage unit’s functionality to fellow club members. We showcased each drawer coming out from the block.

Step 14: Printing

The scale of the mystery block was much too large originally. The first model would take almost 3 days to print and use over 825 grams of filament. To reduce the print time while still maintaining the same style, we turned the question mark into an indentation rather than an extrusion, while also added a secret compartment to reduce print time as well. The original block also shrunk from 150 mm to 120 mm, this allowed us to cut down the print time by over 24 hours and the filament weight by 500 grams.

Printing this part of the project was done over several days, and turned out well in quality, about what was expected. It did take a long time because of the size of the print.

Step 15: Improving and Reprinting

Additionally with the drawers. we realized later on that the fitting was pretty tight, so rather than reprinting the entire cube again, it was more cost-effective to alter the first drawer to be a millimeter shorter in each dimension so that it was a loose fit. This allowed all four drawers to be removed with ease.

Step 16: Final Results and Recommendations

Overall, this project turned out well in our opinion and looks great visually! The functions of the project are there and working, and the prints taught us a lot about 3D printing and designing around 3D printing.

For the future, however, we would like to do more play testing and spend more time designing new levels. We think that while the current levels are good, they could be easier and more fun for the player! In addition, the drawers could be all reprinted with some tolerance to make them easier to pull out without putting all the tolerance on one drawer.

However, at the end of the day, we are both very proud of this project. We hope that if you find this interesting, you take this idea and make your own, with creative ideas and different types of games!

Step 17: Files

Here are our Fusion 360 files!

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    Question 21 hours ago on Step 17

    Great project! I would love to have my students iterate on your design- would you be willing to post a blank maze base template for creating mazes from?


    Question 4 days ago on Step 17

    Is there a file for Cabinet 2?


    Answer 4 days ago

    All Good, I found a way to edit another cabinet in Fusion 360 so I am good. Thanks


    10 days ago on Step 17

    I really love the storage design for the altoid repurpose! Nice instructions too.


    11 days ago

    Oh my gosh this is so cool. Should you want to make and sell these I would be first in line! I hope you do!


    Question 11 days ago on Step 17

    This is Awesome! Would you consider selling one of these?


    11 days ago

    Thank you for this awesome write up! We do an altoid project in my 8th grade maker elective. I really appreciate your documentation of test prints. I plan to print up some of your models as examples for next year's project. Awesome work!


    11 days ago

    Thanks for sharing and providing such detailed pictures and videos! This is such a great project. Sounds like it was a lot of fun to work on too.


    13 days ago

    This is really clever and well done. Kudos to your whole team for creating and sharing such a great project! :D