Sep 20, 2015 | By Kira

You’ve no doubt seen a variation of this magic trick before: a woman enters a box so that only her face, hands, and possibly feet are visible. Then, in a great show of courage, the magician slides two blades into the box, effectively ‘slicing’ his assistant into three clean parts. He even pushes the middle box aside to prove it. The illusion is completed with her midsection being slid back into place, the blades removed, and the woman stepping out of the box completely unharmed. Known as the ‘zig zag’ woman, it’s an iconic magic trick that you can now replicate with a few cleverly 3D printed parts.

Of course, neither the woman, nor the pencil, in this case, is ever actually sliced up. In the case of the zig-zag woman, the illusion is accomplished by the box appearing to be much smaller than it actually is, giving the woman room to turn her body sideways and avoid the blades. In the 3D printed version, aptly called the Pencil Puzzler, the trick lies in having two ‘pencils’ on hand. One in solid form, the other already cut into three even pieces.

As shown in the video above, the ‘magician’ slides the intact pencil into the box, where it is stored in a separate compartment. He then pushes the middle section upwards, preserving the intact pencil in one compartment, while revealing the three separate pieces. The action happens so fast, of course, that to the naked eye it looks as though the original pencil has been chopped up, but when he pushes the middle section back down, the magician remove the first pencil in one clean piece. Don’t worry, if you don’t catch it the first time; I had to watch the video several times and it’s still pretty much impossible to see.

Former avionics and video game designer and programmer, Greg Zumwalt, used to mess around with his high school buddies by making this classic magic trick out of buass wood and ‘laddie’ pencils. Now, he has designed and 3D printed a much more sophisticated, but equally mesmerizing version with his Makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer. All pieces, including the ‘pencils’ are 3D printed, and took about two hours to print running at 150% speed.

The .STL files are available to download on Thingiverse, and by looking at the CAD models, you can get a feel for how the trick works. There are many ‘broken pencil’ tricks that you can buy online, or learn from YouTube, but few that take advantage of the mind-bending properites of 3D printing technology like this.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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