I love open-ended building blocks, and I always wanted to create my own. One of my favorite projects on the laser cutter was to make a set of infinitely recombinable puzzle pieces. At first I planned to make a 2D tessellating set, with simple shapes. Then I realized I could cut pieces to the width of the acrylic and make a snap-together 3D set. Here is the progression of the project, and what I learned.
The 2D pieces did not snap together as well as I wanted. They remained loose because I failed to consider the kerf of the laser cuts. A solution might be to add tiny bulges or “notches” along each slot.
Next I made all the notches 1/8″ to match the width of the acrylic. This batch was okay, but I realized I could just use all slots instead of slots and tabs and have twice as much slot-together area.
I liked the all slot pieces, but having sharp edges seemed potentially dangerous for kids. So the next iteration got rounded corners.
Then I expanded the available shapes to small connector pieces and larger hexes. The small connectors could also be cut out of the center of the hexes.
Final set of puzzle pieces – successful snap together sculptures!