Introduction: (mostly) 3D Printed Letter Connect Puzzle

I have always been a fan of board games rather than computer games, interacting with other people in real life being one of the best parts for me.

I think it can also benefit children, who can exercise their vocabulary through this game but people of all ages can enjoy the fun.

For the making of this project, I was inspired by several word android games (there are hundreds of them :) ) and their different variants, so the thought was to create a real-life version of this kind of games.

So because I am making it, I can make it however I like, choosing the size, the shapes, the colors, the font.

This game is a simple yet really fun challenging game that consists of mostly 3D printed parts, as you will see in the next step. Even though it has such a simple construction, easy to make (but a 3D printer, owned by you or a friend, is kind of necessary) it’s suitable for many entertaining game scenarios, as you will soon read.

Step 1: Construction

For the construction of the game I firstly used some 3D printed parts:

The only part that is not 3D printed is a disc made of transparent acrylic material with a diameter of 150mm and a thickness of 3mm which acts as a cover.

In a first phase I thought I would use for letters some plastic beads that can be found in DIY jewelry stores

they are relatively cheap but for two reasons I had to give them up in the end:

  • They are not of the best quality, in the sense that the printing of the letters is defective (it can be seen in the photo);
  • The diameters of the beads are really small (7 mm), hard to read and uneven.

I wanted some shapes with beautiful, clear letters that were easy to read, so I had to make them myself :)

The STL files for the first three components are on Tinkercad.

The discs with letters are 12mm in diameter and I printed them with white material for the discs, respectively black for the letters. For this, before starting the layer at a height of 5mm I put 'pause' printing in the g-code generated by the slicer so I was be able to change the printing material spool with which I print (from white to black) How you edit de g-code, how you make this pause in your slicer depends a lot on what printer and what software you use. I have an Anet A2 with firmware updated to Marlin (1.1.6) and Repetier Host so I needed to put @pause command before I started printing the first letters layer at a 5mm height. I also want to mention that I used 0.2 mm for the height of the printing layer (0.3mm for the first layer) and 20% infill. To make my life easier I printed the letters in four equal parts (as in photo above), while I was printing the next group I already cleaned the previous one.

I would like to draw your attention to the way I designed the letters. Maybe you didn't know but you can use your favorite font in Tinkercad for different texts, I followed this howto and the font I used is Baloo.

You may be wondering why exactly 100 letter discs (of which there are two discs with asterisks as jokers!). I used exactly the number of letters used in the classic scrabble game. The purpose of the game is to compose words and if I had used some random letters I'm sure the game would be unplayable. The distribution of letters in scrabble is made so that you are able to make as many words as possible. I used the classic English distribution but I had a small problem with a calculation error. The diameter of 150 mm for the part where the letters are placed is a bit small, 100 letters cannot be mixed properly. So I gave up a few vowels (E- 4 pieces, A - 3 pieces, I - 3 pieces, O - 2 pieces, U - 1 piece). In the main photo are the whole set of letters but in the video there are fewer, without the vowels I listed above

You can adapt the game to your native language using the distributions according to this wikipedia article.

The letters could be grouped so that they are printed in different colors (say black, red, green, blue), in this way you can assign scores to different letters generating scores to various words, very similar to the scrabble game.

Of course, everything can be printed in other sizes, you can easily edit the files on Tinkercad.

I printed the body of the game with black material. But I chose to print the support in white for a nice contrast :) The height of the printing layer is not critical, I used 0.3 mm.

The size of the acrylic disc fits the body so that when mounting it enters snugly into its slot, that way I didn't need to glue it. There is a hole on the lateral of the body in which I can insert a thin object (which does not scratch the acrylic material) and I can push out the disc from its place, to change the set of letters set for example...

Step 2: Let's Play!

We can imagine several game scenarios, but they are all based on the possibility of composing words by reading the letters in any direction, one after the other, but only on those letters whose discs touch.

So shake the game well and then put it in the stand:

-Scenario 1

In a given time, each player writes on his sheet the words he discovers, then the lists are checked, the words that appear on 2 or more lists are cut ofand the player with the most original words wins.

-Scenario 2

Players find words consisting of three or more letters in turn and the one who can no longer find a word loses the game

-Scenario 3

Players try to find in turn different words from the ones that were found, but each letter is a point (or more points if we use letters of different colors and default score) and the longer the word is the more points it is worth, the player who has the most points when words are no longer found wins.

And because this type of puzzle can be very successful in children ...

-Scenario 0

As the child learns the alphabet, we add letters to the puzzle and help him find words. This scenario can be a good exercise in enriching children's vocabulary.

And you can find many other scenarios ...

Below you have a video in which you can see the list of the words that I found at a moment. Can you find more? :)

And when you're bored, you can display it on the desk because it looks good as a decoration too, right? (As in the main photo)

Step 3: Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this article, I would like to see as many of you as possible making this simple game, and spending a fun time playing it.

I look forward to your comments and questions.

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