How Are Puzzometry Puzzles Made?
Puzzometry starts in Powerpoint. (flipping, merging, rotating and scaling of various geometric shapes is very quick and easy in Powerpoint). After several minutes, or more typically, several hours, of playing around with different tessellations**, I finally settle on a final pattern that meets all of my requirements for playability, challenge, esthetics and other design rules. I then print out the Powerpoint document and carefully cut out the puzzle pieces and frame so that I can test the playability of the paper version of the puzzle. This sometimes results in a design revision. Eventually, after a few (or sometimes many) redesigns, I end up with a final design.
At this point, I then draw the final design in CAD Software (Autodesk Inventor is my current preference) where I can pay very close attention to precise (+/- 0.001”) locations and dimensions of each of the vertices of the pieces and puzzle frame. After checking and re-checking every vertex, I then save the file as a PDF, which is one of the file formats used by the Laser Cutter.
My most common Puzzometry material is clear, 0.22” acrylic, but I’ve used different materials for various prototypes (wood, different colors of acrylic, cardboard, etc.). Once I settle on a material, I do a few test cuts on the laser to ensure that the settings are correct for the material choice. Parameters like LASER POWER, PULSING FREQUENCY, and CUTTING SPEED are very critical to getting a very clean cut/etch and they are different for every type of material. Once I find the correct settings for the material, I then put a sheet of the material in the laser cutter. After a few minutes of flashing laser beams, a bit of smoke, just a touch of magic and a few silent prayers to the Laser Gods….a Puzzometry is born!
**A tessellation of a flat surface is the tiling of a plane using one or more geometric shapes, called tiles, with no overlaps and no gaps.