Creating a custom puzzle is a great way to give a gift and make it personal and more meaningful. There are many ways this can be done so don’t fear if you don’t have the same machinery that I do. For this project, I’m going to be using a combination of UV printing and laser cutting to create a unique puzzle.
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Let’s jump into the project and make something awesome!
Table of Contents
This is a list of all the materials that were used to create this project. These items may contain affiliate links.
- 1/4″ Clear Cast Acrylic
Machinery and Settings Used
This is a list of all the machines and their respective settings that were used to create this project. These items may contain affiliate links.
Step 1 – Generate the Design Using AI
For this project, I decided to use AI to generate a cool design. Let’s be honest about this, my art skills aren’t the best and this is a good way to get a really cool image quickly. I will say that I hope to improve my art skills in the future, but for now, I’ll have to live with using DALL-E 2.
My idea for this is to use an animal combined with an evil scientist’s prompt to see what happens. Let’s just say, I’m not disappointed with the outcome.
Step 2 – Laser Cut the Outer Shape
For this project, I want to cut out the outer shape first because this will make it easier to print. This step is pretty simple. I just take the outer square design for my puzzle and send it to the laser using the settings above. Make sure to leave the masking on the acrylic during this process.
Step 3 – Print the Design
There are a lot of ways that you can put an image onto acrylic. I’m using the process of UV printing because I have the machinery available to me and it is a super fast way to get designs printed onto different substrates. For this, I want to invert the design so that it will be the correct orientation once it’s flipped over. I then print the design using the first layer as the color layer and the second layer as a white layer so that the design isn’t transparent all the way through.
Step 4 – Generate the Puzzle Design and Cut the Pieces
For this step, I’m going to save myself a ton of time by using a puzzle generator. These things already exist, so there’s no sense in reinventing the wheel when you can do it in a fraction of the time. By using a puzzle generator, you can easily generate a vector file for just about any size puzzle that you can fit onto a laser. Once it’s designed, import it into your design software and send it over to the laser.
Step 5 – Unmask and Assemble
Here comes the tedious part. Every puzzle piece will have masking on it. It’s time to peel that off to reveal the design. This may take a little while, but it is very rewarding once you see the final product.
Now it’s time to enjoy your hard work! I used to put puzzles together all the time as a kid and it’s one of my favorite memories of spending time with my grandparents. With the power of UV Printing and Laser Cutting, I can share this experience with my kids while making it a much more personalized experience.