The first time I can remember picking up a Rubik’s cube is sometime around 2005. I tried to solve it for a few months, and set it aside for the most part. Finally one day I had a friend playing with it, and he accidentally solved it. That was all the spark I needed. While browsing the internet in attempt to learn how to solve it, I found videos of amazing “twistypuzzles” that I had never seen before. The first puzzle that I remember seeing was Andrew Cormier’s Teraminx.
It was shortly after finding out there are more puzzles than just the normal 3x3x3 I found a forum dedicated to twistypuzzles, http://twistypuzzles.com/
I joined the forum the 1st of October 2008, and I have been an active member ever since.
The most fascinating thing about twistypuzzles to me is how they work, the mechanism that holds such complex puzzles together. My uncle suggested that I look into becoming an Engineer, I looked into it and it seemed to fit my personality and what I was interested in. I am now a Mechanical Engineering major here at NMU and enjoy my studies greatly; we have a great set of Professors in the department.
I started by enrolling in a Drafting and Design course at a technology center my senior year of High School. I immediately started out designing puzzles. My only working design that I was able to produce was a normal 3x3x3. When I showed my other designs to the Twistypuzzles forum I was informed that my designs would not work. One of the reasons was because I designed each piece individually. One of the great things about Solidworks is how versatile it is. If you can think it, you can probably make it. I found some tutorials posted by none other than Andrew Cormier himself, and finally I was able to make more complex designs.
The first puzzle that I had 3-D printed was a 2x5x5 puzzle, luckily for my first puzzle I had a success.
It was a great stepping stone into my passion for designing puzzles. I have been designing puzzles for several years now, and I have had some very successful puzzles, as well as some not so successful puzzles. Sometimes you can’t tell if a puzzle is going to work unless you go ahead and make a very expensive prototype.
Today there are many fantastic puzzle designers out there and new designs are being made constantly, there are even some great companies out there that are working to mass produce some of these great designs.
The easiest part in designing a twisty puzzle is decideing what you want to make; “what shape will it be, will it turn on the faces? The edges? How deep? How many layers?” After this you can basically draw a sketch to make whatever your idea is. The difficult part comes in making it a stable design, something that won’t fall apart when you turn it. Once you have a nice looking design then the long work begins. Fillets, rounds, engineering fit, places for screws, hollowing of pieces; all of these steps are very time consuming. At this point you have to decide what is next. Is your design really what you wanted? Perhaps you want to change the shape of your puzzle, but not change how it turns or works. Maybe you even want the puzzle 3-D printed so you can actually play with it. You might even get lucky and have a company mass produce the puzzle so many people can enjoy it.
I really enjoy the design process for puzzles, and I have created several basic tutorials for how to design them. The best one is the basics.