7 Ideas for 3D Printed Puzzles

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Who does not love a good puzzle? Puzzles exercise your brain muscles and can be a great way to spend time during boring days. Even a single puzzle can be entertaining for several days or weeks.

If you own a 3D printer, then you probably understand that 3D printing is a puzzle on its own. For now, we will be using that 3D printer to make your own custom puzzles. These can make excellent and inexpensive gifts to your friends or even just simple projects for your 3D printer.

1. Puzzle box

puzzle box

The idea of a puzzle box is that it can only be opened by solving a puzzle. This is a great way to package small gifts like cash, jewelry, or other trinkets. The box itself is also a nice gift, especially for people who like their valuables hidden from plain sight.

The great thing about puzzle boxes is that they can range from fairly simple to complex. The simplest form of a puzzle box is one that has two parts that need to be rotated relative to each other to move a lock through a maze. There are also puzzle boxes made with multiple parts that have to be moved in a specific sequence. These designs use the same principles but are executed in different ways.

2. Puzzle cube

Puzzle cube

A puzzle cube is made of several 3D pieces with different geometries. The goal of the puzzle is to put these pieces together so that they form a cube. This is a relatively simple puzzle toy that young kids should enjoy and play with safely.

Puzzle cubes can also vary in terms of complexity. This is a much easier example as it only involves putting together three pieces that are identical to each other. This puzzle cube is a bit more complex as it is made up of six different pieces that must be assembled at a very specific sequence and orientation.

Puzzle cubes aren’t exactly mind-bending or sophisticated. They make great toys for kids, but adults can get bored with them pretty easily.

3. Gear box

Gear box

The gear box is a unique take on the puzzle cube concept. The ultimate goal of the puzzle is also to form a cube. However, the puzzle involves turning interconnected gears instead of putting separate pieces together. This ingenious design is perfect for anyone who is looking for more complex puzzles and also enjoys moving around mechanical parts.

4. Tangram


A tangram is a classic puzzle that has you moving around parts of different shapes and sizes to form a seemingly endless list of possible larger shapes. In the simplest form of a tangram, the goal is simply to form a square. However, there are much more complex versions that may have you forming a heart or a large hexagon. There is even a 3D version of a tangram that can be put together to create a pyramid.

The great thing about tangram puzzles is that each set of pieces can be rearranged to form a huge range of different shapes. A tangram really is only limited by your creativity. You can exchange tangram puzzles with friends, come up with your own shape, and challenge them to recreate it. This is the kind of puzzle that keeps on giving.

5. Dr. Brain Breaker

Dr. Brain Breaker

This puzzle is at a higher tier in terms of ingenuity and complexity. Using about a dozen parts with different shapes, your goal is to build a brain. The grooves created by the part as they are put together make the brain look a bit closer to reality when fully formed. The halves of the brain are symmetrical, which helps in figuring out which part belongs where.

One of the best things about this model is that you can print a polygonal skull to mount the rebuilt brain. It even comes with a cap to cover the brain. Having this at home should make for an incredible conversation starter. It’s also a great ice-breaker or team activity for parties.

6. Kit card


Kit cards are some of the most popular models for 3D printing. They are basically models that can be built from several interlocking parts, all of which come in a thin plastic card. The great thing about kit cards is there are a lot of them – from an X-Wing to a nativity scene.

Kit cards make great gifts because they are incredibly fun to put together. Most of the 3D printable kit cards are simple enough to be assembled even without any printed instructions. They are also very easy to 3D print and can be done in less than 30 minutes.

7. Sliding puzzle

sliding puzzle

The sliding puzzle is another classic. It involves a series of movable panels that have to be arranged to create a specific sequence. This particular example has panels numbered from 1 to 12. We imagine that the puzzle can be easily customized to write a message or to form an intriguing pattern.

This is a simple puzzle that could provide a moderate challenge to kids and can be a good toy for fidgeting adults. It is easy to print but you might need a few tools and extra parts to put all the parts together.

Final thoughts

Puzzles can serve multiple different causes – they are great to give as gifts and are nice to fidget with to stimulate your mental muscles. Some of these puzzles are also perfect for spending time with your friends or family, especially if you’re having them over for the holidays. If you have a 3D printer, you can print out most of these puzzles from free models within half a day.

Warning; 3D printers should never be left unattended. They can pose a firesafety hazard.