It all started with a sketch.
Beautiful, isn’t it? I know it makes no sense, but this is what happens when inspiration strikes! For our final assignment this week, we had free rein on what to do. Usually, these type of assignments stump me. Luckily, inspiration struck and very quickly I had a solid idea of what to do.
The idea: a maze. The twist: a blind maze. Stay with me.
When brainstorming the idea, the thought of just doing a maze seemed a little too simplistic bordering on basic. But, on top of gravitating towards games (in particular logic ones) I also have a particular interest in sensory experiences and flipping those around. So that’s when this idea was born.
If I create a “blind” maze, you would have to stop relying so heavily on your sight to complete it, and instead use the sound of the bean rolling through the maze, and the windows that give you a peak to complete it. It becomes much more difficult, but the end is much more rewarding.
Now that the plan was set, it was time to set it in motion. Another part of this assignment was to ideally use a material we hadn’t used before. Surprisingly, I’ve used the laser cutter on a couple of different materials but not acrylic, so I decided this would be the perfect moment to try it out.
I made my way to canal plastics and bought a big ol’ sheet of blue to make my project. I needed a big piece as this was going to be done in layers, and bought a necessary smaller clear piece to go right under the “window layer.”
Idea–check, materials–check. On to the design. I found a maze generator online that was exactly what I wanted. After spending some time on it finding the perfect size and difficulty, I settled for a design and downloaded to my computer. I then imported it to illustrator and spent hours on converting it to a version I would be able to get on the laser cutter.
Once I moved to the laser cutter I started with a cardboard prototype to make sure the size and spacing was right. This prototype did not work. The passages were too thin and getting it out just ripped the whole thing apart. I then moved to foam to mimic the thickness of the acrylic and little better and that did work. The prototype was way too big though. So I resized it printed it out again and got the perfect size for what I needed.
Acrylic time. Now that the size and design were right, I moved on to the laser cutter. My sheet was too big for the 50 and 60 Watt cutters, but as goldilocks would say it, “just right” for the 75 watt one. When in Rome, right?
I got started cutting the acrylic on Friday morning, fast-forward to Sunday night by the time I was done. Times by PI doesn’t even come close to the time I spent on this thing. I had to do at least three passes on each piece based on the reference sheet for materials, and the two maze layers took around 45 mins per pass. The shop is my second home now.
As I was cutting the layers, I was designing the non-maze layers. Each layer needed to be it’s own design based on the components that were supposed to fit into it and its purpose. So I was designing, cutting and at some point gluing. At first I didn’t want to use glue (and I avoided it for the most part), but I found it to be necessary for the two maze pieces in order for them to be connected to each other as well as part of the maze.
Once that part was done, I needed to put them all together. I got four 1″ flat head screws to hold everything together, and one binding post to connect the top rotating piece to the clear layer. I had cut out all the holes already, but needed to countersink the clear layer in order for the screws to sit flat in it so the top layer could rotate.
I clamped down my piece and worked on it until everything was exactly how it needed to be. Unfortunately, I kept rotating the clear layer to see if the screw was sitting flush and didn’t realize it was getting scratched. It got pretty banged up, but now I know what not to do >.<
After that was done, it was a matter of putting everything together. I am very happy with how this turned out. Work hard, play hard!