3D Brain Puzzle and Tinkercad Cutting

Introduction: 3D Brain Puzzle and Tinkercad Cutting

3D printed brain jigsaw puzzle and Tinkercad cutting problem.

I want a 3D printed object! They are amazing! Can I design it myself or do I have to rely on, and pay, someone else to do all the work for me? Where did I go to get one printed out? I answer these questions and more in my required English course assignment requiring me to give a detailed step-by-step instruction on how to design an print a 3D object.

Wait! How do I make unique cuts into my 3D design in Tinkercad?

If you need to skip, I answer this question in Step 18.

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Step 1: Accessing the 3D Program

I went to the open source 3D designing program called Tinkercad which can be accessed at www.tinkercad.com.

It is easy to“sign up”. Simply follow the prompts, enter your information and press “next”.

I also Googled “brain puzzles” and then “parts of the brain puzzles”. After about 30 minutes of scrolling through images, I decided I liked the different lobes of the brain: Frontal Lobe, Parietal Lobe, Occipital Lobe, Temporal Lobe, Cerebellum, and Brain stem. I also wanted wrinkles on my design just like a real brain, but this become major problem.

First, open Tinkercad and “sign in”. Type in your email address and press “next”. Then, either choose to access your account through your email or click the tab underneath it “sign in with password”. I always choose password so I don’t have to open my email. I enter the “verification code” sent to my phone through text message. You will go through a tutorial of how to use the program. *Don’t skip this step, you will use what you learned. After, click on the “Create new design” tab. It will automatically open up a blank work space.

Step 2: Creating a Design

Click on the “half sphere” and drag it to the center of the grid.

Step 3:

Change to a side view by using the square in the top left corner or right click on your mouse while moving your mouse. Decrease the height of the sphere by clicking on the top white button and dragging in down until it is almost flat.

Step 4:

Elongate the sphere by clicking on the black square directly to the right of the shape and dragging it until the desired shape is made.

Step 5:

(I looked for a brain shape for reference.) Repeat the step by dragging another half sphere to your grid.

Step 6:

Again, reduce the size of the sphere. Click and drag to move the second sphere into desired place.

Step 7:

Add a third sphere to your grid.

Step 8:

You want to make this shape match the orange egg shape like the picture to the left. Reduce the size using the steps above.

Step 9:

To rotate the shape by clicking on the curved arrows and move your mouse to the right. You can also click in the white box to the right of shape and type in the degree that you want to shape to move to. *You will have to experiment a little here to get the angle just right. You can always undo any step by clicking on the “left arrow” at the top of the grid.

Step 10:

Choose the “dice” shape and drag it onto your grid.

Step 11:

Using the same steps as stated above, reduce the dice shape to a thin rectangle.

Step 12:

Using the same process as before, move and rotate the rectangle into the position you want. *This took several adjustments to get what I wanted.

Step 13:

I used a reduced sized “tube” shape to cut holes, make indentions, in the brainstem. *I had to go back and review the tutorial on how to cut shapes because I did not understand it the first time I did it. You may have to do what I did and review the tutorial again.

Step 14:

Then, merge “group”, the shapes together. *This is also shown in the tutorial.

Step 15:

Drag a “polygon” shape onto your grid.

Step 16:

Reduce the shape like before.

Step 17:

Move shape into position and group the shapes again.

Now it’s finally time to cut the jigsaw pieces!


There is no tutorial for this!

The only thing I can do is cut available shapes into another shape.


Don't worry.

I’ve got you covered!

Step 18: Cut the Jigsaw Pieces

Choose the “scribble” shape.

Step 19:

You will be taken to a empty grid with a “show preview” screen in the upper right corner. *CLOSE THIS SCREEN. It will only frustrate you trying to get the design you make to fit onto your brain design. It is easier to make the design and then adjust it after on the main grid.

Step 20:

You will have to design EACH SIDE of the puzzle pieces. This will give you the freedom you need to make adjustments on the brain. Press “done” at the bottom right of the screen when done. (*I tried to make an entire puzzle piece at one time, but when I reduced the size, it DID NOT fit correctly on my brain.)

Step 21:

The design will automatically appear onto your brain.

Step 22:

Reduce shape and move to the desired placing.

Step 23:

Cut! If you can’t remember how, go back and review the tutorial. Remember to check the bottom to make sure that the pieces cut all the way through before you move onto the next piece. I did not check this until close to the end and ended up with a couple of pieces that were stuck together

Step 24: ​Repeat the Process!

Repeat the process until you have covered the entire brain.

Step 25: How in the World Do I Put Different Wrinkles on My Brain?!

To get textured wrinkles on your brain, you would follow the same process as described above, but DO NOT CUT. Due to time restrictions, and the problem of cutting unique designs into my 3D model, I decided to forget the sections of adding wrinkles on the brain. I decided to only focus on cutting the puzzle pieces.

(This project took me almost a week to compete because of the experimenting and learning how to use the program. My hope is that you will be able avoid the frustration and reduce time needed to make your 3D designed puzzle.)

Step 26: Printing the 3D Design

You can "export" your design and send it to a company who will print it for you with the cost varying depending on company, size of the object, and type of material you want it made from. Before exporting the design, always double check what format the company wants the 3D design to be in.. My design was extremely small and mostly flat so It only cost me $3.00 US dollars to have it printed through the University of Florida’s science library. Make sure to double check the size of your object as well as it could cost you more than $100 US dollars if you are not careful. I simply followed the directions for submitting my design through the UF website, waited for conformation through email, paid for my design online, and then waited for an email to tell me it was finished and I could pick it up. *They will not print your design before you have paid for it. Even though I checked the “school assignment” box, it still took them over a week to print it.

Step 27: Smoothing Away Rough Edges

The back of the puzzle had lines that kept the pieces together.

These were fairly easy to pull off, but I still tried to be gentle since my pieces were thin and did not want to break them.

After pulling off the lines, there were no rough edges.

The top is already smooth, but I left the back rough so that I would know the difference between the back and the front when putting it together.

I like a bit of a challenge and decided to leave my puzzle all white, but was told that nail polish sticks well to 3D printed objects.

Step 28: Final Product

I am mostly pleased by the final product of my first 3D printed design. I am a bit disappointed that the pieces do not fit as closely as I would have liked but cutting unique designs in a consistent way using Tinkercad is a skill that I would have to develop. I used a small gift box I already had to store my puzzle in and wrote the number of pieces on the lid. I also took a picture with my phone so that I could have it as reference.

I hope you found this useful and GOOD LUCK with you 3D design!

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    1 year ago

    Great brain puzzle! Great display of how to use Tinkercad too. Nice work :)