Diniar Namdarian from Germany has always been very well known for his many 2D sliding block puzzle designs. In fact I have quite a number of puzzles he has produced over the years. These have mainly been fabricated out of laser cut acrylic in the past. Of late, he has started producing puzzles using 3D printing. Of course 3D printing has now allowed him to extend his design capabilities quite significantly. I had the good fortune of getting one of his 3D printed puzzles, the Sewing Box during the IPP38 Puzzle Exchange in San Diego this past August.
The Sewing Box consists of an ABS plastic (the stuff for 3D printing) circular frame which holds six different coloured rods in place. Each of the rods consists of two parts split at varying lengths. The object of the Sewing Box is to remove the rods from the frame. Quality of the 3D printing and finishing is very good. The puzzle looks really nice with all that colour around the sides.
I think everyone would agree that the puzzle is very intriguing and enticing looking and begs to be played with. But the solving is a whole different ball game. I struggled with it for quite some time and got nowhere. The rods can rotate on their own axis and all six rods can also rotate around the frame. Eventually I asked Diniar for a clue. All he told me was that the rods are split at different heights (something which I already knew). Anyway, I persevered on. And through a rather painful process of trial and error, continuous sliding and twisting, I finally manage to dislodge the rods. I say dislodge because it seemed that several of the rods all came apart almost at the same instant. It was only then that I saw the “internal mechanism” of the Sewing Box. I like to think I got the rods out more by chance than systematic skill.
I took a fairly long time to solve, like nearly maybe an hour. Diniar mentioned that three other puzzlers, Jim Strayer, Kevin Sadler and Goetz Schwandtner all had taken apart the thing in only 15 minutes or so. Hey, these guys are experts…what do you expect?! Overall, I would say that the Sewing Box has quite a clever and rather very unique design concept, well executed via 3D printing production. Very challenging would be a bit of an understatement. Solving requires a fair bit of (lateral) thinking. And certainly quite a handful to be juggling so many pieces. I saw the official solution from Diniar. And yes, there is a “method” or rather technique to solving but it is difficult to discover. More suitable for the hardcore puzzle enthusiasts.
For anyone interested to get a copy (15 Euros plus S&H) and I would highly recommend the Sewing Box to those who relish a good challenge, you can email Diniar via the IPP38 Puzzle Design Competition webpage. Yes, the Sewing Box was also an entry to the competition, and the most colourful one!