The Rubik’s Cube is one of the most well-known puzzles in history. However, this can be intimidating to beginners because it seems so complex. The good news about this puzzle is that you don’t have to know everything, (you may be asking yourself, ‘just what is 3D printing?‘) just a few simple things! This article will tell you how to take an image file and turn it into a Rubik’s Cube that you can 3D print. We’ve seen 3D printers do amazing things, from producing a bong, to even building full homes!
Try out the Flashforge Adventurer 3 if you want to make your own 3D printed Rubik’s Cube!
Steps to 3D Print Your Own Rubik’s Cube
Step 1: Find an image file of your favorite color scheme.
Try to find an image for which the background is not essential. For example, you would need to either cut out the white around the puzzle or paint in the background yourself. However, as long as it is at least as wide as a Rubik’s Cube (which it is), you can tell the software to ignore the white around it. You can also make it bigger if you want! Now for a few more tips: Try finding an image with all six cube sides in different colors.
The reason is that if you have a puzzle where there are simply two sets of three squares each, it can be more challenging to tell which side is the right side up. This way, all of them have one color on top and another on the bottom. In addition, try to get a picture that has not been edited. You will most likely have to do that later with the software, but for now, download a picture of something you found online if you don’t want to draw one yourself.
Step 2: Download and install OpenSCAD
Don’t worry; this is much easier than it sounds! OpenSCAD is free and open-source, and it is a CAD program. That means that you can use it to design 3D objects. It is not user-friendly, but we will be using a few scripts to make it do what we want. The first thing that you need to do is download OpenSCAD. For Windows users, we recommend downloading the 32-bit version; for Mac users, we recommend downloading the DMG file and extracting it. If you are running Linux, install Ubuntu and then follow this guide.
For either operating system, you will have to run OpenSCAD by opening the program in the folder where you downloaded it. This probably means going to the folder and clicking on OpenSCAD or finding it in your Applications folder and double-clicking it. Once you have opened the program, go to File –> Open. Find where you saved the image from step one and open it.
Step 3: Change the size of the object
The first thing you are going to do is click the Compile and Render button in the top left corner of the window. This will make it so that OpenSCAD creates a 3D object from your 2D image. Now, as you can see, it is too big for our printer by default. To change this, you have to change the scale.
You can do this by clicking on the scale button next to the compile and render button. As you can see, there are three different numbers in each box (one for width, one for depth, and one for height). It works is simple: if you want to make it smaller, you take away the same number from each of these numbers.
If you’re going to make it bigger, you add the same number to each number. For example, if we wanted to make the Rubik’s cube half as big in every direction, we would change all three numbers to 0.5. However, for this specific case, we recommend just changing the X number to 1.
Now your Rubik’s Cube is a more appropriate size for a 3D printer!
Step 4: Make it hollow
The next step in the process is going to involve removing material from the inside of the image. This can be done by clicking on the ‘Inset’ button, which is one to the right of the scale button.
The Inset feature will make it so that when you click on Compile and Render, all of the material inside of the box with blue lines around it will disappear (we are only working with part of our image now). However, if you want to make it hollow like the real one, you must change all of the numbers in this menu (click on ‘Insets’) to 0.
Now when you compile and render it, it will be completely hollow. You might notice that there are still some areas inside the box with blue lines around it that will not disappear. There are still holes in the Rubik’s Cube, even though they are tiny. Later on, when you get to the polishing step, this should be fixed for both versions of your cube (the full one and the hollow one). If it isn’t, use Sander to remove extra plastic leftover pieces from the Inset feature.
Step 5: Convert it to STL
This is the last step in converting your 2D image into a 3D object that a 3D printer can use! The way that you do this is by going to the Design menu and clicking on ‘Export. STL’.
The Export.STL feature will give you an STL file that only has the Rubik’s cube in it. This is great because it is precisely what we need to send our printer! However, keep reading if you want to add some color and make a more visually appealing display piece.
Step 6: Colorize your model.
This step is super simple, but it does require a little bit of work. You first need to download your favorite colorized image from the internet and then change its name to ‘color.png’ (without the quotations). Then, you have to go back into OpenSCAD and open up the File.
Instead of going to File –> Open…, you have to go to Design–> ‘Add .png image.’ Now your colorized 3D model can be imported into a slicer and sent directly to a printer!
This article has covered the basics of converting a 2D image into a 3D object that a 3D printer can use in OpenSCAD. This article also covers some features within OpenSCAD that can modify or colorize your model to make it more visually appealing.