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Japanese Crystals

(design: March 2004)

(Due to limited webspace (50Mb), images have been reduced in size. You can still find the original images in my BrickShelf account.)


1. The idea

People have been asking me if there will be a 4x4x4 Cube after the standard 3x3x3 Rubik Cube. I'd love to make one, but everyone who has already seen the interior of the 4x4x4 Cube will understand that it's not as easy as the 3x3x3 Cube. That's why I decided to build another puzzle, not necessarily one of my own collection. In an old book I found a full description of how to make my own Japanese Crystal.
I guess that the 3D-puzzles from Eric Harshbarger also inspired me to build this one.

2. Japanese Crystal with 51 pieces

Required pieces

  • Left: the 51 pieces required to build the Japanese Crystal.
  • Right: my pieces. The invisible parts are in different colours because I didn't have enough bricks; I got really desperate on the gray pieces (I had to use train-windows). I suggested to "borrow" bricks from the kids, but my wife disaggreed...
My pieces
Virtual Crystal

  • Left: It looks great if all the pieces are in the same colour.
  • Right: making the pieces was the easiest part. I found building instructions for this puzzle on the web, but even with these instructions it's still a difficult puzzle. The smaller versions are much easier...
  • Below: the straightforward building technique results in some weak spots.

Real Crystal
Problem

3. Japanese Crystal with 33 pieces

With a minor adjustment on the largest pieces, it is possible to make another (smaller) Japanese Crystal with 33 pieces.

Required pieces

  • Left: the 33 pieces required to build the Japanese Crystal.
  • Right: my pieces.
My pieces
Virtual Crystal

  • Left: all the pieces in the same colour.
  • Right: the completed puzzle.

Real Crystal

4. Japanese Crystal with 19 pieces

With another minor adjustment on the largest pieces, it is possible to make another (smaller) Japanese Crystal with 19 pieces.

Required pieces

  • Left: the 19 pieces required to build the Japanese Crystal.
  • Right: my pieces.
My pieces
Virtual Crystal

  • Left: all the pieces in the same colour.
  • Right: the completed puzzle.

Real Crystal

5. Smaller Japanese Crystals

With another minor adjustment on the largest pieces, it is possible to make yet another (smaller) Japanese Crystal with only 9 pieces.

Required pieces

  • Left: the 9 pieces required to build the Japanese Crystal.
  • Right: my pieces.
My pieces
Virtual Crystal

  • Left: all the pieces in the same colour.
  • Right: the completed puzzle.

Real Crystal

Strictly mathematical it is even possible to make a Japanese Crystal with only 3 pieces (this one is known as "Cross Puzzle").

Virtual Crystal

  • Left: virtual puzzle.
  • Right: real puzzle.

Real Crystal

6. SNOT-version

Because the straightforward building technique resulted in some weak spots, I decided to rebuild the Crystal using the SNOT-technique. Additional advantage: smooth surfaces on all sides make it look even better.

Finished puzzle

  • Left: the finished puzzle.
  • Right: used pieces. Notice the smooth tiles on all sides; the bottom of LEGO elements is no longer visible. Right now, there is only one weak spot left: the key-piece with cilindrical center. This is justifiable since it is one of the smallest pieces.
Used pieces

Remarks:

More puzzles to come ??....


The rendered images are created with MLCad, converted with L3P and rendered with POV-Ray.