Feb 6, 2016 | By Kira

Engineer and 3D printing enthusiast Mark Fuller has recreated a famous magic trick using a few simple 3D printed parts. Known as the Three Deck Illusion, or Charpentier’s Illusion, named after the French physicist who discovered the phenomenon, the illusion can easily be recreated at home thanks to Fuller’s free, 3D models, and would make for an entertaining and clever way to impress or surprise your friends.

Like most magic tricks, it starts off quite simply. Three identical decks of cards are laid out on a table, and a participant is asked to lift first, all three at once, and then the top deck alone. Surprisingly (for the participant), the top box will appear to weigh more than all three boxes combined—but, they will think, how can that be so, since they all appear to be exactly the same?

According to Fuller, the illusion occurs “when a person underestimates the weight of a larger object (three decks) when compared to a smaller object of the same mass (top deck).” The same time of illusion happens with objects of different materials or colors. For example, a person lifting a lightly-colored metal container will assume that it weighs less than a container of the same size made from dark wood. Even if they weighed exactly the same amount, our minds would fool us into thinking otherwise.

For the Three Deck Illusion, however, it’s not merely a mind-game. The top box is in fact much heavier, as it is filled with 84 pennies, whereas the bottom two decks are hollow. You can see the trick in action--as well as a lot of astonished particpants--in the video below:

This is known as a ‘trick deck,’ a common tool amongst magicians where a deck of cards has to be physically altered because traditional sleight of hand techniques are too hard to pull off. Other examples include a svengali deck (where the deck alternates between normal and shortened cards) or a marked deck (where there is a subtle mark on the back of the card that indicates its number.) Though perhaps not a magic trick in its ‘purest’ form, it is nevertheless a clever and sneaky way to fool your friends into thinking their minds have gone for a walk.

In order to make your own 3D printed Charpentier’s Three Deck Illusion at home, Fuller has uploaded the free, 3D printable models to Thingiverse, and has created an easy-to-follow video tutorial (below) showing users how to assemble and pull off the trick. All that’s needed are the six 3D printed parts (two parts for each ‘card deck’), 84 US pennies, and hot glue gun, ABS juice or super glue. Keep in mind that the illusion requires permanently gluing those pennies into the case, so make sure you haven’t got any rare collectibles before starting! For European tricksters, Fuller has also released an International Edition designed specifically to fit the Euro 1 cent coint.

According to Fuller, it’s an easy 3D printing project for a rainy or snowy day, and would make a great illusion for the classroom, team building events or just for showing off to your friends. This isn’t the first time Fuller has been featured on 3Ders.org. Previously, he and friend Jake Veilleux built and launched an impressive 6’5” tall rocket with a 3D printed nose cone, sending it 1,200 feet into the air.

We’ve also seen a few other DIY magic tricks, pulled off seamlessly thanks to 3D printing. If you’re planning on brushing up your magician’s skills, try out the 3D printed Pencil Puzzler, which creates the illusion of cutting a pencil in two and then putting it back together, or, get your friends to build ‘impossible towers’ with the trick-weighted 3D printed Tricky Bricks. To see the entire illusion come together, watch Mark Fuller's video tutorial here:



Posted in 3D Printing Application



Maybe you also like:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to

3ders.org Feeds 3ders.org twitter 3ders.org facebook   

About 3Ders.org

3Ders.org provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive