Prolific puzzle designer Stewart Coffin described this dodecahedral cluster of 30 notched pentagonal sticks in his book "The Puzzling World of Polyhedral Dissections" (Oxford University Press 1990); but although this puzzle would be extremely difficult to produce in wood it is exceptionally well suited to home based 3D printers as there are no significant overhangs and therefore no support structures are required. Support free puzzle designs are preferable to 3D printer operators in the same way that notchable designs are to woodworkers.

There are many ways of planning the grooves in a Pentapod; for this first version Steve Nicholls designed a puzzle that used pieces with 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 notches. This made it far from trivial to assemble and also leads to the name "Pentapod 024" (Pentapod 0 to 4).

Steve Nicholls and Simon Bexfield not only decided to 3D print the puzzle but designed and made a 3D printer which overcame some of the shortcomings in existing home printers. Their improvements were so successful that they have gone on to market their printer under the name THREEDY.



The small (70mm diameter) puzzles have been printed using both PLA ( and ABS ( plastic. The majority are in PLA. Each piece has been printed in 46 layers (although it is possible to more than double the number of layers this would have also more than doubled the production time).The whole puzzle requires 42.84 meters of 1.75mm plastic filament to be completed which means that the print head travelling just over 820 meters for each puzzle once the plastic is extruded.

The medium size (100mm) purple puzzle shown here is ABS the smaller ones are PLA. Some scientific studies have demonstrated that PLA can lose up to 50% of it's strength when immersed in water for 3000 hours (4 months). Therefore, our venerable curator has been recommended to primarily restrict his bath time puzzling to the ABS version of the puzzle saving the PLA versions for special occasions, Birthdays, Christmas etc.

One of the bonus features of having notches with an overhang is that they "grip" other pieces in such a way that one can build abstract sculptures with the pieces.
An advantage of home 3D printing is that one can fool around and test spur of the moment ideas like these secret boxes hidden as puzzle key pieces.

Buy a 3D Pentapod