A puzzling role for 3D printing
06 April 2014
In the mid 1970s, Rubik’s Cube became one of the world’s most popular toys and by January 2009, more than 350 million had been sold. Now, a worthy successor has arrived that could only have been created using additive manufacturing.
The injection moulded 3D puzzle, Marusenko Sphere (right), and some single parts of the prototype produced in an EOS Formiga P 100 additive manufacturing machine
The new Marusenko Sphere is both a 3D logic puzzle and an educational toy. It is available in ten colour schemes and five levels of difficulty, depending on the configuration and colour combination of its 32 exterior pieces, which are supported by 22 internal elements. The puzzle is solved using nine different types of movements – two meridional and perpendicular to each other, one equatorial and six polar.
Rapid prototyping from plastic powder in an EOS Formiga P 100 additive manufacturing machine played an important role in making the toy a reality. This system produces plastic parts from polyamide powder, layer by layer, directly from CAD data within a few hours. When the design phase of the sphere in CAD was complete, electronic simulation had to give way to testing of a physical model.
Aditive manufacturing was the logical approach to producing prototypes due to the toy's complexity, the need to make mid-process adjustments to the shape of the 54 pieces and the need to avoid use of adhesive, springs, screws or shafts to promote child safety. The prototypes had to be tested for both physical and mechanical durability as well as functionality.
The many stages of adjustments to geometry and tolerance were made in the Formiga P 100. Multiple trial and error tests were performed to refine the toy's mechanics until the final level of perfection was achieved.
The flexibility and speed of the AM machine were essential for producing the successive prototype iterations cost effectively and quickly. The process was key to ensuring the success of the final, sales-ready product, whose function is wholly dependent on its geometry and fit.
The rapid prototyping method not only made creation of the toy possible, but also led to cost-effective injection mould manufacture by allowing the behaviour of the additive manufactured PA 2200 plastic toy to be compared with the hypothetical behaviour of the material after moulding. Marusenko general manager, Victor Troyas takes up the story:
“Additive manufacturing with EOS’ Formiga P 100 and PA 2200 material was the only way to create the product successfully. Without it, we would have found it impossible to build a fully working prototype at all.
“Our toy is designed around free movement in predetermined directions. The design initially seemed to be quite challenging, but once we had fully discovered the possibilities of rapid prototyping, we knew that we could make our vision a reality."
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