Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Moiré Maze for laser cutter

I took last month's injection-molded prototype for Moiré Maze and adapted it back for laser cutting by projecting it into 2-dimensional layers and tracing their outlines.  I don't own a laser cutter, but plenty of businesses offer laser cutting services including mail-order Ponoko.  But why wait for the mail?

The SD300 can make good simulations of laser-cut parts, given adequate model data.  I created accurate simulations of laser-cut models by first modeling a sheet about the anticipated thickness of the part, about 3.0 mm to simulate the typical "eighth inch acrylic" (which usually runs a tad thin).  To simulate a laser's cutting behavior I cut the outlines using a "thin wall cut" with a 2 degree draft angle.

Models were easy to clean because the sheet-like design meant there weren't any overhangs, undercuts, or loose ends to deal with.  It was easy to stab leftover support material and peel it away from both sides of each finished piece.

I also designed a 2-piece base, shown upside-down here, on which the maze layers are stacked.  The base aligns the maze pieces and holds them together.

The magnetic wand can be stored in a compartment at the top edge of the maze, and it's held in place because the magnets in the wand are attracted to steel beads embedded inside the model.

Above is a brief video tour of Moiré Maze.

Moiré Maze was inspired by Boston Subway, Oskar van Deventer's design for IPP26 shown at left in the picture.  Boston Subway has layers of criss-crossing channels built from laser-cut acrylic, and the goal was to guide a little magnet from "work" to "home" using a magnetic wand.  Moiré Maze substitutes ring-shaped channels for the straight ones, and thereby creates a visual hiding place for its solution even though it's entirely transparent!


  1. Hi Scott, I have the Boston Subway...a nice little puzzle...your Moire Maze looks really cool! Are you making any for sale?


  2. Yes, ultimately I plan to sell some--but I haven't gotten the laser-cut parts yet. My homemade vinyl model (pictured) was good enough for basic testing, but it's sure not as attractive as a laser-cut model should be! Do you know of any good laser-cutting services?

  3. Sorry Scott, unfortunately I don't....not for where you live anyway. Hmm, perhaps you should invest in a laser cutter?

  4. Oh well, Ponoko says they've mailed some of the parts today so I should get them soon enough. There's a business across town that offers laser cutting but I haven't ventured over there yet.

  5. Ponoko made my exchange puzzle last year and I had no problems with them. Definitely join Ponoko Prime if you are planning on doing a lot of laser cutting, it is much cheaper. You can join just for a few months ...