For my exploration with 3D designing and printing, I am usually in a search for simple to make objects that do provide a nice learning curve and at the same time make the end product useful. I decided to build a Rubik's cube but it felt complicated than usual. As I was browsing in the lines of Rubik's cube for 3D designing, I stumbled upon the Snake Cube Puzzle. It looked fascinating! The fact that you can build so many structures with that was amazing. It was simple enough for kids to follow and build something from their own imagination, unlike the mundane Rubik's cube. Now that I have come to the decision and you have come here out of interest as well, then why don't you tag along to find out how I built it? Maybe you will learn a thing or two from my (mis)adventures and in the end, you may find yourself following along my footsteps to build your own 3D Printed Snake Cube Puzzle!
Step 1: Parts, Materials & Tools
For the 3D designing, we will be using Tinkercad as it provides a good starting point for beginners and lots of customization options even for the experts. You can access the same by clicking on this link: Tinkercad Dashboard
If you have access to a 3D printer then well and good, otherwise based on your country of residence you can find an online service that will help you turn your 3D masterpiece into reality and that will be your exercise.
For the scope of this instructable, the following materials will be typically used:
- Elastic to put through the cubes (The width is based on the hole size)
- Hand-Drill (In-case you need to drill some extra holes here and there)
- Crochet (It makes it easier to pull the string from the L cubes)
- Paints & Brush (You can directly print the cubes in the color of your liking)
- Glue Gun (To tie up loose ends, quite literally!)
Caution: Safety comes first. Handle the scissor & hand-drill with caution. If you are using the glue gun then be careful of the hot nozzle and don't forget to turn off the switch after use.
Step 2: 3D Designing
Basically, we need to design 3 types of a cube - End Cubes, L Cubes & I Cubes. For this instructable, we will be considering a 3x3x3 cube structure so the total number of cubes, in the end, would be 27. Follow the video guide below to learn how to design the three cube structure.
A. Designing I Cubes
B. Designing L Cubes
C. Designing End Cubes
So you can now use the copy-paste method to replicate the above cubes. For the 3x3x3 version, you have to print 2 End Cubes, 9 I Cubes and 16 L Cubes. In the end, you get something similar to the image down below.
If you face any problem during the designing then you can tinker through the link or print it directly: Snake Puzzle
You can also download the .stl directly from below to print or modify in some other 3D designing tool:
Step 3: Make It Real
Now that my 3D printed parts are here and the tools are ready, let's get started!
You need to follow the image below to arrange the cubes. The pattern is the key and you can adjust the structure later as well.
Follow the video guide below to understand how to put the elastic through the hole and proceed with completing the pattern required for the snake puzzle.
Learning From Mistakes
I accidentally sent the wrong number of cubes for 3D printing and I got more I cubes than L cubes. So I used a hand-drill to drill holes in the I cubes to turn them into L cubes. You can see the video below to know how. I realized that having three holes for the L cubes really helped in making the process faster! Though, as you will see, in the end, product these extra holes are quite visible.
In the end, what you get is something similar to the image below.
When this is done, it is time to tie up the loose ends! There are many ways to do that. The neatest way will be to print a 3D plug for the end cubes but I chose to be experimental. I used a glue gun to apply a little glue on the end cubes and just press the glue a little to make it even. It is illustrated in a couple of images down below.
Now you have to start twisting and turning the above pieces to make a structure similar to the image below.
Once the basic structure is ready, you can refer to the following tutorial to learn how to solve the puzzle.
Following the above tutorial, I was able to solve the puzzle and achieve the end result as shown in the image below.
Fact: The above cube is just 4x4x4 cm in size! The size of each cube is 1x1x1 cm!
Once I was satisfied with what I had achieved, I thought why not add some colors to this cube to make it look funkier.
Note: You may choose to color each cube, typically in an alternative color format which just improves the overall look as well as makes it easier for you to solve the puzzle.
Step 4: Play Time
It was my second encounter with 3D designing and printing and oh boy! it was amazing! Tinkercad really helped me simplify the development due to which I was able to complete the project fruitfully. My first encounter with 3D designing and printing was with 3D Printed Jigsaw Puzzle. One can say that for the purpose of a jigsaw puzzle, one may be better off with using cardboard or user laser-cutting techniques. But in the case of 3D Printed Snake Cube Puzzle (which what we build in this instructable), the true potential of 3D printing is truly reflected. First up, the process is way simpler than say the process of manually making by using wood pieces. Also, you have more control over and you can easily translate a 3x3x3 cube puzzle to turn it into a 4x4x4 cube puzzle with least effort. If you have seen the video of the 3D designing carefully then you would have noticed that the cubes are not just solid blocks of plastic but in fact are hollow to a certain extent. I have done this purposively so as to decrease the amount of material required but at the same time make it easier to pass the elastic through the holes. One more important benefit one gets through 3D printing is that you reduce the cube size to the very least bit which is very difficult through typical methods.
Challenge: How about adding a LED inside each of the cubes? Sounds amazing to me!
What are you waiting for now? Get started right now! Design, Build, Play!
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I will appreciate any feedback and suggestion you may have related to instructable and you can share your views down in the comments section.