As an exercise I chose to adapt Moiré Maze, a design I briefly tested in 2009. The original test model contained 5 layers of transparent laser-cut acrylic containing ring-shaped channels. The goal is use a magnetic wand to guide a small magnet through the channels from start to finish. The lowest layer is a mirror, which I hoped would create an illusion that would disguise one secret feature so its solution could literally hide in plain sight.
It's always good to build a prototype: during inspection I discovered an error in my maze.
- As a straightforward web page (pictured above) with tabs and interactive elements.
- As an enhanced web page with a powerful 3D plug-in.
- As a printable PDF document with all the information comprehensively laid out.
- As an enhanced PDF document that exploits Adobe Reader's ability to view 3D models.
It was a valuable experience, and this particular model was probably an ideal choice for learning how to make an injection-molded design. But, in my final analysis I concluded injection-molding isn't suitable for this particular project in the quantities I needed because:
- This particular design still required laser-cut parts for the mirror and top cover. Injection molding merely reduced the volume of laser-cut parts per model (from 5 down to 2), it didn't eliminate laser cutting entirely.
- To attain the required transparency the molds would require laborious polishing to a mirror finish. That polishing would cost more than all other expenses combined, which rendered the project hopelessly uneconomical for a small production run.
- Critical geometry includes a knife-edge "gore" where two arcs converge toward an intersection, a feature not suited for injection molding. Hence injection molding would diminish the quality of that particular detail.
- The previous test model had already demonstrated the design was suitable for being laser cut.