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What Are the Different Types of 3D Puzzles?

By T. Carrier
Updated May 23, 2024
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Three-dimensional puzzles, or 3D puzzles, put a few new spins on the conventional puzzle format. Typically, these puzzles present multidimensional design in three primary ways. For one, the puzzle might work like a 3D movie, where 3D glasses are required to make the puzzle picture gain depth. A lenticular 3D puzzle gains dimensionality via movement. Other puzzle makers take 3D puzzles to a more literal level, whereby the entire puzzle is constructed so that it is shaped like an actual object.

Solving puzzles is a popular pastime for adults and children alike. These challenging activities traditionally involve piecing together a flat, usually square piece of cardboard cut into varying shaped pieces. Graphics adorn these pieces, and when the puzzle is put together, a complete picture emerges. When a puzzle is 3D, it either has a picture that appears three-dimensional or the puzzle itself has dimension.

True 3D puzzles have depth, shape, and dimension that simulates something real. For example, many manufacturers market puzzles designed as models of famous buildings that when constructed are essentially miniature versions of their real-life counterparts. Unlike a more traditional puzzle, these puzzle types are usually built from the ground up. Pieces are also thicker, sturdier, and shaped more angularly than regular puzzle pieces. Other examples of replica three-dimensional puzzles might include globe puzzles and animal puzzles.

Lenticular puzzles and graphics 3D puzzles both typically have the traditional flat puzzle structure, but the pieces create a 3D picture. Regular 3D graphics puzzles merge superimposed images together in a manner that creates the illusion of depth when using special 3D viewing glasses. In addition, the images may be constructed so that they appear to move when seen from varying angles. This type of effect might result from use of a lenticular lens, which involves taking images with slight variations and printing them in layers on paper or plastic materials. Stereoscopic picture puzzles only require a small change in angle viewing for each eye to process a different image and perceive depth, while transforming 3D print puzzles necessitates a significant change in puzzle viewing angles.

Some types of problem-solving devices might be considered 3D puzzles as well. In additional to jigsaw puzzles, any device that compels the user to navigate a challenge or negotiate a series of choices to reach a solution might be considered a puzzle. As such, hand-held objects such as the Rubik’s Cube could be viewed as a 3D puzzle. This particular object is a cube with various color patterns that the user must match up via twisting motions.

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Discussion Comments
By Viranty — On Jan 18, 2014
Interesting article, but I would have enjoyed it even more if it had discussed puzzle solving in video games. Although some people feel they're a waste of time, I beg to differ, as they can definitely put your brain to the test. The Legend of Zelda series is known for having incredibly challenging puzzles, some which even have multiple solutions.

The next time you go to your nearest video store, consider renting The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. If you're looking for a way to challenge yourself, you won't be disappointed. Overall, it's good to know that the gaming industry isn't limited to mindless first person shooters.

By RoyalSpyder — On Jan 17, 2014
Whether they're as basic as jigsaws, or as complex as Rubik's Cubes, puzzles are as thought provoking as they are entertaining. Not only is this article a great read, but what I enjoy the most is how it gives insight into the types of puzzles available, such as 3D and lenticular. In my opinion, what makes puzzles so entertaining is how they challenge you in unexpected ways, and the feeling of accomplishment you get upon solving them.

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