Warwick, UK - In the mid-1970s, the 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 (AM) or 3D printing technology.
The new Marusenko Sphere is both a 3D logic puzzle and an educational toy. It is available in 10 color schemes and five levels of difficulty, depending on the configuration and color 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. When the design phase of the sphere in CAD was complete, electronic simulation had to give way to testing of a physical model.
AM 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 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 system that produces plastic parts from polyamide powder, layer by layer, directly from CAD data within a few hours. 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 so highly dependent on its components' geometry and fit.
The rapid prototyping method not only made creation of the toy possible, but also led to cost-effective injection mold manufacture by allowing the behavior of the additive manufactured PA 2200 plastic toy to be compared with the hypothetical behavior of the material after molding.
LASER ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING: HOW DOES ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING 'STACK UP' AGAINST SUBTRACTIVE METHODS?
Above: Close-up of the Marusenko Sphere.
Below: The injection molded 3D puzzle, Marusenko Sphere (right), and some single parts of the prototype produced in an EOS FORMIGA P 100 additive manufacturing machine.