A puzzle box (also called a secret box or trick box) is a box that can be opened only by solving a puzzle. Some require only a simple move and others a series of discoveries.
Modern puzzle boxes developed from furniture and jewellery boxes with secret compartments and hidden openings, known since Renaissance times.
With the help of 3D printing,
makers have been able to create a variety of different puzzles and share them,
Traditional tooling made a lot of things incredibly difficult or impossible,
but 3D printers have made a lot of things possible.
Certain shapes lend themselves to 3D printing, and the prices of materials and manufacturing are often decreased.
Their capacity to rapidly prototype solutions to complex mathematical issues is something that may not be discussed as much,
in this case taking the form of a 3D printed maze,
known as a dodecahedral holonomy maze, with an interesting solution.
Reducing brute force
The puzzle is shaped like a sphere with numerous inlaid hexagons forming a track for the puzzle piece, or “rook.” Because some roads are obstructed when the rook is angled in particular ways,
the tracks create a maze for the rook to move through.
To successfully reach the exit, the player must rotate the rook by moving it around the hexagons in such a way that its path is not physically blocked by any of the pegs.
On the surface, this appears to be a fun toy, but the impressive thing about it is that the solutions are designed to reduce the likelihood of solving the puzzle using “brute force” methods while also providing multiple paths to the exit as well as several bottlenecks for the puzzle solver to navigate.
There are numerous puzzles of this size and design that may be created,
all of which have predetermined solutions and ingeniously chosen approaches.
This may sound like a lot, but when you consider mathematicians at Oklahoma State University were responsible for the entire build,
from concept to 3D modelling to implementation, it becomes evident how well-designed the puzzle was.