Acrylic Penny Maze

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About: The answer is lasers, now, what was the question? If you need help, feel free to contact me. Find me on Reddit, Tumblr and Twitter as @KitemanX

So,  I made the simple Cardboard Penny Maze.

But, it wasn't quite enough.

Enter the laser cutter...

Step 1: Planning

Planning started the old-fashioned way, with pencil and paper.

I worked on squared paper, planning routes up and down through five layers. I exploited the squares' size to plan 20mm channels, allowing both one cent and one penny coins to be used in the maze.

I then scanned the sketches into PDF files, and used InkScape to "draw over" the PDFs, and save the digital versions as DXF files.

Don’t have a laser cutter?
Download the Ponoko ready SVG design file ("Acrylic Maze All Layers") and upload to the Ponoko site. Select 3mm thick x "P3" sized sheet of clear acrylic. Wait a couple of days and you’ll receive your custom cut acrylic pieces for the project in the post. From here, you’ll want to skip to step 3 and start assembling, as step 2 is all about cutting if you have a laser.

Step 2: Cutting

The path sections of the maze were made from 3/16 inch clear acrylic, and the separating layers were cut from 1/8 inch clear acrylic.

The former was the closest available thickness that would allow the coins to move freely, the latter was the thinnest acrylic available, to keep the bulk of the maze down a little, and to stop coins falling at an odd angle and getting stuck.

I used an Epilog laser cutter, at the setting recommended by the operating manual for the materials.

If you want to cut your own, just choose the files from this step in the format that is suitable for your laser cutter.

Leave the protective film on the acrylic during cutting, to protect your exposed surfaces..

Step 3: Assembly

I popped out the off-cuts, and peeled off the protective film before arranging the layers in order and bolting them together.

When I used Ponoko to make a maze, I decided not to use wing-nuts so that it was smoother thing to handle and less, well, wing-nutty.

A word of warning: if you are using my original files, check the bolt-hole alignment - as a result of them being basically hand-drawn, some of the holes needed a quick go with a dremel to round them off and line them up.

It is important that I held the layers together with bolts, rather than adhesive, because the square section in the lower layers is a trap - if your penny ends up in there, you have failed, and can only get your money back by dismantling the maze.

Cheat.

Step 4: Does It Work?

Did it work?

Did it distract people around the office from their proper work?

Did it cause fascination and frustration in equal measure?

Did it distract Conker-X from his computer?

Yes!

This was a fun project - I need to think of an excuse to use laser cutters again!

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35 Discussions

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aymanlee

2 years ago

Hello, what kind of screws do you use? Did you make a threaded hole for the screws?

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Kitemanaymanlee

Reply 2 years ago

They're 1/4 inch bolts with a matching wing-nut.

The holes are not threaded, they're just circles cut in each layer.

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mg0930mg

6 years ago on Introduction

I really like this Kiteman. If I owned a laser cutter this would be one of the first projects I did. :P

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Kitemanmg0930mg

Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

I guess it would be possible to make it by hand, just a lot more time consuming. Unless routers work on acrylic?

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Routers do work on acrylic...I've machined so many acrylic parts with a router. On that point I would like to create your puzzle with a router. Do you have PDFs with just the outline of each layer? I could use these as templates...thanks.

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The first four pages of the PDF I think will work. If you have time can you clarify or re PDF the last three pages.

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Sorry it took so long, but I found the right pendrive with the files for this project. I've added everything I've got to Step 1 - note that there are *two* PDFs of the sketches.

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Thanks Kiteman! I've printed off the PDFs now to find that acrylic...I will send you a picture when I've completed it. With any luck it should look like your one, although the cuts will be hand routed.

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Kitemanmg0930mg

Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

A lot of schools are starting to invest in technology like this (my own is, soon), so maybe you could put together a list of cool laser-cut projects and wave them at your teachers?

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blueangelical

5 years ago

I love it, would a £1 coin fit? Could you make one that does, how much to buy one off you please, I could put my kids pocket money in and they get to keep it if they can get it out.

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Kitemanblueangelical

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

You'd have to re-size the files (a 5p works fine in this one), and use thicker acrylic for the maze layers, but it would work after that.

I'm afraid I can't make another for sale (the laser cutter I used is in San Francisco, I am in the UK), but you are welcome to use the files to get one made by one of the growing number of online laser cutter services, such as Ponoko.