Oct. 23, 2014

Brooklyn based designer Fleet Hower and 3D Hubs partner to release 3D printed Designer Puzzles: Lock-Nesters today. The Lock-Nester collection consists of six three-dimensional jigsaw puzzles that range in difficulty from 5 to 185 pieces. Upon launch, over 100 colour combinations will be released.

"I've always been fascinated with jigsaw puzzles and the geometries that make up their connections, but wished they could be designed with more freedom in three dimensions." stated Hower.

Instead of using standardized shapes it is important to Hower that each piece has its own connection logic determined by the curvature it spanned and relationship to its neighbors, the close association between model and piece gives every puzzle a distinct look.

Monica + Mini Monica

For developing the Lock-Nesters Hower chose a desktop 3D printer because of the speed and ease of access for prototyping. The printer helped him find out the perfect types of connections that would allow a puzzle to be assembled and taken apart. "My first prototype did not hold together at all, the second would not come apart, it was only after a few hundred iterations of testing that I began to develop an intuition about what would make a successful connection."

Albert + Mini Albert

Due to the number of unique pieces involved, 3D printing remained the best option for larger scale production of the Lock-Nesters. "Conventional methods such as injection molding and casting came with quotes that were prohibitively high, but it makes no difference to a 3D printer whether each piece is the same or different, so we are leveraging 3D printing by using unique pieces that could not be produced another way." explained Hower.

Suima + Mini Suima

Prices will start at $15 per puzzle. Over 8,000 print locations worldwide in the 3D Hubs network will be available for printing the Lock-Nesters. The distributed production capabilities of 3D Hubs could get puzzles to customers around the world by locally 3D printing through their global network, cutting out expensive shipping and third-party distributors.


Hower is planning to expand upon his current work by offering more customization for the consumer to control. "All of our work is driven by algorithms, so there is a lot of digital modeling and code writing that goes on in the office. We're hoping to increase the consumer's ability to act as a client and influence the design of the end product." Hower says this is achieved by customizing a puzzle's form or color, or even offering the ability to upload one's own model and create a personal puzzle, "everyone is important enough to be immortalized by a puzzle bust".


The Lock-Nester Designer Puzzles are amongst the first of a new type of product. By using the 3D Hubs network, each product is manufactured on demand upon ordering. "We are working towards a future in which distant mass-production is replaced with local communities that digitally design and make the products that they use daily." says Bram de Zwart, CEO of 3D Hubs.


Lock-Nesters can be ordered from Hower's website or directly through 3D Hubs. The first series will be available in the US, Canada and Europe starting October 23.

Posted in 3D Printing Services

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