There is one in every group. A person who either can, or claims to be able to, solve any puzzle. Whether it’s because of genius level visualization abilities or a stubbornness so fierce they simply will never give in, the urge to provide them with something to work on is hard to resist. It was exactly this kind of desire that led Mike Le Page to create his 21 piece, 3D printed Tetris puzzle.
The idea first occurred to him when he saw a 5-piece 3 x 3 x 3 cube puzzle that had been carved out of wood. However, he was looking for something slightly more challenging and so he decided to design his own. After completing his design, he uploaded it to Shapeways and had it printed. This led to several revisions, most importantly the separation of two pieces he had accidentally left overlapping in virtual space. Unfortunately, the realization that this needed to be fixed only after having spent several hours trying to somehow fit the whole thing together.
The other revision that was made was to recreate the pieces of the model but hollow. Le Page had hopes that that would reduce the printing cost enough that he would be able to order it printed in matte black stainless steel. While it did bring the cost down, that version of the puzzle would have to wait as it still carried a price tag of $220. For the plastic printed version of the puzzle, he had originally hoped to sell it for $30 but due to a shift in the pricing structure at Shapeways, it retails at $66. However, it’s still the number one selling item in his Shapeways store and now it’s also available for download through Thingiverse.
The first victims, or shall I say ‘beneficiaries,’ of this design were members of Le Page’s family. He described the inaugural effort in an interview with 3DPrint.com:
“It took my brother and his wife about two hours to get to halfway, and when they were running out of time and had to go, I gave them the guide which helped them finish it more quickly than they would have. It’s basically at a level of difficulty that will take an adult the better part of an evening to solve and is immensely satisfying when you do, whilst still having a guide there for those of us who are more likely to throw it out the window when we get frustrated.”
It’s a good thing there’s a short cut too because Le Page doesn’t exactly have time to waste. The 32-year-old Australian is a medical scientist, currently writing up a PhD in Immunology, who fills in his free time by composing classical music, writing ebooks, and generally causing the world’s citizens to feel as though are underachieving at any given moment. Luckily, he has given up being a superhero and so has a couple of free evenings to devote to building these puzzles and solving them. After all, everybody has to relax sometimes.
Will you print out your own Tetris cube puzzle, or purchase one from Le Page’s Shapeways shop? How does this design compare to your favorite three-dimensional puzzles? Let us know what you think in the 3D Printed Tetris Cube Puzzle forum thread at 3DPB.com.
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