© 2018 Nathan Davies.

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I've had this idea of a puzzle cube promotional piece for over a decade now.

When I originally designed my 2D hexa-star logo, I did it with this 3D shape in mind. I've always liked the shwag I've picked up from studios, and design houses over the years. When it's done right it can transcend the membrane from obnoxious promotional trinket to thoughtful curiosity worth keeping, and representative of what it promotes. I wanted to create something like that for my branding. A little research, and a whole lot of trial and error later, I was left with a puzzle cube cube that is expressive of my mission as a designer, animator, and general creative.

This one is based on a foam cube of similar design I had when I was young, and it was one of the original foam 3D puzzles. I didn't find any satisfactory ones for purchase I could brand in any acceptable way, so I decided to make one. I bought a 3D printer and quickly trained on how to tune it in as finely as possible. The joints would have to be very accurate to snap together without being too tight or too lose, so precision from start to finish was paramount. Over the course of 6 test runs, I dialed in the final measurements, and explored the overall cube form. Because 3D printing at an affordable range is still very young, the detail quality is only acceptable down to a certain scale. I took the unavoidable inconsistencies of printing as a challenge to make the smoothest cube I possibly could. I felt that if the cube is perfectly smooth with precise seams, then that would serve as evidence of precision, design, and craftsmanship. When considered all at once, this project's scope crosses a great many creative disciplines. Graphic design, motion design, web design, industrial design, all orchestrated in a unified branding schema that still affords the leeway for the components to speak their own language.


What is a good project without narrow parameters? For this I chose to omit mass production shortcuts wherever possible to stay true to the do-it-yourself ideal. I printed, cut, polished, sanded, and glued every item in every package personally. I operated in a "clean room" mindset to ensure every piece remained pristine to delivery. Finally due to the cost of ink being more valuable per oz than gold, I used as little as I could, and still get the idea across in a memorable way. I wanted the most output with as little material as possible. Maximized minimalism.


When I was designing my logo initially, I wanted a shape that represented as many aspects of my creative scope as possible. It reads well flat, but is a 3D object as well. The placement of the circle/star completes the deliniation between hexagon and cube giving the logo a 2.5 dimensional impression. The star on the flat logo is tilted perceptably clockwise to hint at the passage of time, or animation. Finaly, the logo recurses from positve to negative to positive space in the language of layered composite while simultaneously creating one. My logo is all these things and a little off center with intent.


I began by exploring what size the cube should be, bearing in mind that the 3D printer's limitations would weigh heavily in the final design. I decided on a 2.5cm cube.  It's a novel size, doesn't use a lot of material, and is within an acceptable threshhold for quality of print. Using an unfolded template from the internet, I projected the initial shapes and built the geometry on a 5mm unit grid in MoDo. I used MoDo because I appreciate it's forced attention to scale. Scale and measurement precision were very important to get this shape all the way through the pipeline, and into physical reality, so I felt the modeling tools and attention to precise units made MoDo a good choice. Once the puzzle pieces were adjusted for printer overspill and material workability, I carved away at an assembled 3D version to produce the logo shape, at scale, ready for print

3D development of the cube in MoDo.

After extensive research into the 3D printing world, I bought a 3D printer from a company in China. I decided on the Creality CR10 for it's reliability and build volume. It seemed to be in line with the standard for current extruder printers, so parts and supplies would be easy to acquire.

I spent some time making various prints to understand the printer better, and fine tune the settings I would need to make my cube a reality. It's the cutting edge of personal manufacturing, but still a very young industry. Where circuit boards were the domain of the hobbiest in the late 70s, 3D printing is that to the contemporary technophile, in my opinion. I look forward to a Star Trekesque replicator in the not too distant future.

Creality CR10 3D Printer
Development of the cube as a physical, interactive object.