3-Dimensional Sliding Tile Puzzle




About: I make stuff, or at least I try. When I'm am not making things, I enjoy learning what I can in the areas of history, religion, electronics, and 3D printing.

Hi All.

Here is a fun little knick-knack that I designed and printed recently. The mechanics of this thing is basically the same as my "3D Printed Sliding Tile Puzzle," but instead of having the boring number tiles I added more of a 3-dimensional aspect to the tiles.

I borrowed a Mexican Pyramid model published by gpvillamil, and a Flower model published by TrevorLaw from Thingiverse to make the puzzles shown above. So many thanks to them both for their great models.

After I downloaded their models, I used Netfabb to cut up the STL's and put the tiles together.

In this instructables, I'll briefly go over how to print and assemble the puzzles shown above. I have also included files for a blank puzzle in case you wanted to make a model of your choice into a sliding puzzle. I'll also show you the way I put the designs on the puzzle pieces in Netfabb.

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Step 1: What You're Gonna Need

To make this puzzle you'll need a few crucial items, namely the following:

- 3D Printer with minimum build volume of: 100mm x 100mm X 50mm

- Plastic Printer Filament ( I used what I had on hand: ABS )

- Super Glue

Step 2: Print the Puzzle

Now its time to print. Download the STL's below and configure the gcode for your printer.

I used the following specs to print my puzzles:

Layer Height: 0.2 mm

Infill: 30%

The puzzle tiles and frame will need a minimum amount of support material.

Step 3: Assemble and Enjoy!

After you've printed all the parts, removed the support material and assemble your puzzle. Simply snap the pieces into the puzzle tray. The "missing" piece is the one in the bottom left-hand corner. Leaving that space empty, place the other tiles around it in a continuous upward outward pattern.

When all fifteen tiles are in place, squirt a drop of super glue on the four corner pegs on the puzzle tray. Then align the holes on the frame with the pegs on the tray, and snap the two pieces together. Be careful not to get any super glue on the puzzle tiles.

You can now solve your puzzle! Start by sliding the tiles around into a completely random orientation, then you can put them straight again. Some of the tiles may slide roughly at first, but as you keep sliding them around, their edges wear down a bit and the sliding action will become smoother.

Step 4: Customize a 3-Dimensional Sliding Tile Puzzle

So what if you don't want a puzzle of a flower or pyramid? Maybe you want a Millennium Falcon Puzzle instead. (which is a great idea, by the way) Well, you will not be disappointed...I hope.

Because of the endless amounts of awesome models out there on the internet, I could not make them all into puzzle pieces myself. So instead, I have included below the files of a blank set of puzzle tiles with which you can make any sliding tile puzzle you please.

Step 5: Import Files Into Netfabb

As I mentioned above, I used Autodesk Netfabb to cut up the models and place them on the puzzle tiles. Autodesk offers a free version of Netfabb for non-commercial use.

After you've opened Netfabb, you'll need to open the "Blank Tile Set" STL. I recommend checking the boxes indicated in the second picture above, when importing the file.

Secondly, find a model you want to put on the puzzle and import that as well. Chances are the model will either be too big or too small, so you will probably have to scale the model to an appropriate size. The scaling tool is indicated in the fourth picture above. Center the model on the puzzle tile surface and make sure the bottom of the model is contacting the top of the tiles.

Step 6: Slice'em Up

When you are done situating your model on the puzzle tiles, you'll need to cut the model up into puzzle size pieces. Using the "Clip Plane Frame" command on the left side Netfabb interface, position the cutting plane at the edge of the puzzle tiles and execute a cut command. You will need to make three cuts along the X-axis and three cuts along the Y-axis as indicated in the first picture above. When you're done, the cuts off your model should line up with the edges of the tiles as shown in the second picture above.

Next you'll need to look at the whole puzzle from a side view and make six more cuts as indicated in the third picture above. Again this is three cuts along the X-axis and three cuts along the Y-axis.

Lastly, you'll need to make two cuts along the Z-axis as indicated in the fourth picture above.

Step 7: Export STL's

You might have noticed that I have a little excess flower over the "blank" space in my puzzle set, If your model does as well you can go ahead and select and delete it.

Next you'll want to hold down the "Ctrl" key and select all the parts that make up one puzzle piece. Once you have them all selected, right-click and export them as an STL file. I found it was easier to select the pieces if I first moved on row at a time away from the rest of the puzzle tiles.

After exporting a puzzle piece, open it up in your favorite CAM software to ensure your exported STL file had all the parts. If the puzzle piece is all there, you can go ahead and delete it or move it out of the way in Netfabb and move on to the next piece. Continue selecting and exporting until you have STL's of all the pieces.

You can then print and assemble your puzzle for your enjoyment. You may have to resize the STL's in your CAM software. The puzzle pieces should be 25mm in the X and Y directions and the tray should be 92mm in the X and Y directions.

And that's all folks. I hope you enjoyed this instructable and the puzzles.


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    10 Discussions

    Penolopy Bulnick

    1 year ago

    I am absolutely horrible at these puzzles, but I think it would be so fun to design a 3D one and try to solve it :D

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    Great project, I think also very interresting for blind people. Well done!!

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    I don't have a 3d printer but this is still really cool, Great Job!

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    hey this is a really cool Idea! If I had acces to a 3D printer I would totally make one...

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    This is super cool! I always play this sliding puzzle as a kid but this is the first time it's in 3d how awesome! The Mayan one is super neat

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you. Yes, the pyramid my favorite one too.