Puzzle Cube Design Project
For our engineering class, we were tasked to create a puzzle cube from left-over 3/4" hardwood cubes from a local office furniture manufacturing company. They throw away tens of thousands of these scraps, and we've been tasked to come up with a potential product using these materials.
Our design concept is a puzzle cube that consists of 5 puzzle pieces.
Each puzzle piece must consist at least 3 cubes and no more than six cubes.
No two puzzle pieces can be the same
The five puzzle pieces must assemble to form a 2-1/4" cube.
Some of the pieces must inter-lock.
Hardest Part of this project
The hardest part of the project was visualizing the combinations of the cube pieces to meet the requirements. Our team prototyped and tested several variations before we arrived at this solution. We like this design because it offers a good level of difficulty and has several pieces that inter-lock.
We also found that the pieces were not all the same size. We saw a variation of almost 0.100" between cubes. During the production stage, we had to do a lot of sanding and processing to get pieces to fit. This is something we need to take into account when we go into production.
How does SketchUp help engineers visualize designs?
As part of this project, we used SketchUp to model our design. SketchUp was useful because it allows engineers to see the model from a variety of angles and perspectives. It also simplifies the documentation process. Once we have the model, we can quickly create drawings of each of the pieces and generate an assembly drawing all from the same model.
Why do engineers use CAD rather than just building immediately?
Engineers use CAD tools so that they can see how parts fit together before gluing or permanently changing materials that they are using. It's important so that materials are not wasted. We saw several students in our class that either made mistakes during the glue-up process, didn't read the requirements fully, or just forgot how their design went together. In most of these cases, they had ended up wasting additional cubes in their prototype process. Material costs are real and engineers need to be very careful when planning and designing products.