Jordan Brink Portfolio


My name is Jordan Brink and I am a transfer student here at JMU. I grew up in Colorado and completed the first two years of my education at Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado. I work at The Makery here at JMU, so I am fairly familiar with 3D printing already. In addition to 3D printing, my work also includes helping patrons use our embroidery machine, vinyl cutter, laser cutter, virtual reality headset, and more. Another big part of my job is teaching workshops, and I currently teach classes in electronics and textile arts/machine embroidery. In my spare time I enjoy drawing, creating 3D models using software like Blender, knitting, and hiking.

I don’t really have experience creating puzzles, but I’m excited to learn! I’m interested in creating puzzles that can double as art and am really excited about combining mathematics and 3D printing.

I really don’t like taking pictures of myself, so here’s a picture of a canyon near where I grew up. It’s called Picture Canyon because of the numerous ancient petroglyphs in and near it. This area of Colorado is a little desolate for most peoples’ taste, but it is special to me.

Here are some other places that you can find me:

Initial Puzzle Research

While learning more about 3D puzzles, dissection puzzles and Soma cubes caught my eye. Both of them have a lot of potential to create an aesthetically or tactiley pleasing object, and there seem to be a lot of different ways to create both.

According to Stewart Coffin, one of the oldest dissection puzzles is called the Tangramfig006a. It is a seven-piece dissection of a square and can be arranged into many different shapes. Dissection puzzles can be made in many different ways, and can be very simple to make. I think it would be interesting to create a dissection puzzle in which each geometric shape contained some sort of design or motif so that when arranged in different ways, it is possible to create different scenes or creatures.

Soma cubes were created by Piet Hein whilst sitting through a quantum physics lecture. Individual pieces of a Soma cube are composed of all of the irregular face-joined cubes within another larger cube. Pieces are not supposed to be more than 4 cubes. Like dissection puzzles, there are many ways to create a Soma cube with these parameters (240, to be exact). I am

Make a Wooden Soma Cube interested in creating a Soma cube that resembles an animal, with some sort of head and arms/legs. Because of this, it would really only be possible to configure it in one way, however I think creating a Soma cube with the added stipulation of organic-looking appendages seems fun and like a good opportunity to capitalize on my experience with character modelling.


Soma Cubes

Dissection Puzzles

Thingiverse Puzzle Print

The model I chose is “Mosquito Puzzle” by entomophile. It is a set of many flat pieces that are put together using aligning notches. When all the pieces are assembled, the puzzle will resemble a mosquito. I chose this puzzle because it looked cool, frankly. I also thought that the low-volume of the print would mean a very fast print time, and I was right. The initial print I set up on the Lulzbot Mini2 printed in just over 19 minutes.

The initial print was slightly scaled down in order to fit everything on the buildplate, but all of the pieces printed nicely. Because every piece was smaller however, I ran into tolerance issues when assembling the puzzle and ultimately decided to print another on the larger buildplate of a Ultimaker 3. The second mosquito was not sized-down, but it was still rather difficult to assemble because of warping. I believe this was caused by the print being spread over the entire buildplate, as it’s hard to ensure print uniformity over such a large area.

All in all, I think the puzzle is designed rather well. The pieces that needed to fit together fit together well, and the finished puzzle looks much more difficult to print and assemble than it really is.

My print of the mosquito puzzle. You can see how warping shortened the front legs.

Link to my “Make” on Thingiverse: Mosquito Puzzle made by brinkjl

Tinkercad Cube Puzzle

My assembled puzzle.

My cube puzzle is simple. I wanted to create a puzzle that was easy enough to be done in a couple of minutes and that had nice, hefty pieces. I made the basic layout of the puzzle in Tinkercad by duplicating, moving, and welding smaller cubes together so that the whole formed a 3×3 cube.

My puzzle pieces in Tinkercad.

After my pieces were created, I exported them and opened them in Blender. Once in Blender, I added a subdivision surface modifier and a bevel modifier to each piece to smooth out the corners. The puzzle printed fine with the exception of a little bit of issues with adhesion on a couple of the pieces. I tried to design a puzzle that didn’t require support or buildplate adhesion because I find both of them to be a little bit of a pain to deal with. Although the puzzle fits together well, I think I could have been a lot more ambitious with the design and play elements. If I could redo this project, I would add some sort of carrying case and increase the size of each pieces so that they fit together a little bit more snugly.

Applying a bevel modifier.
My pieces as they looked in Blender.

Cube Puzzle Iteration

My printed puzzle.

In the first iteration of my cube puzzle, I was most dissatisfied with how loosely the pieces fit together and how difficult they were to transport. So, in this iteration I attempted to address those problems by creating a case for the puzzle to fit into and altered the bevel width so that the pieces would fit together more snugly.

I built the case in Tinkercad, making sure that there was enough space in the case to allow the pieces to fit.

My pieces in Tinkercad.

After I had my pieces in Tinkercad, I once again exported them to Blender where I cleaned up the geometry (deleting useless edges, trying to minimize the number of triangles) and re-added the bevel modifier. However this time I decreased the width, resulting in less rounded but hopefully tighter-fitting pieces.

My pieces and bevel modifier settings.

After I had the pieces’ geometries figured out, I added a small handle on the top of the case so that it would be easier to remove. I did this by adding a sphere and then joining it to the case.

The top of my case with the handle added.

My cube puzzle is far from perfect, but I feel like this second iteration is a more complete idea than the first. If I were to do one more iteration, I would make the top lid bigger so that it was easier to assemble the pieces in the bottom lid and place the top lid over the completed puzzle. As it is now, it’s difficult to get the top lid into place.

Link to this puzzle on Thingiverse.

Cube Puzzle Wrap-Up

For my cube puzzle’s final iteration, I wanted to do my best to respond to the feedback I had received from a peer. The main complaints regarding my puzzle were that it was too difficult and that, as mentioned in my previous write-up, had a poorly fitting lid. In order to address the first of these problems, I thought it would be a good idea to build a “hint” into the puzzle’s case. I did this by fusing one piece of the puzzle to the bottom of the case so that it would be a given, guaranteed starting point. I also altered the structure of the lid so that, hopefully, it would fit onto the base in a way that didn’t make it difficult to close. I made these edits in Tinkercad and, like last time, beveled the pieces in blender.

My revamped lid pieces in Tinkercad!

While making this puzzle I learned a lot about how much goes in to making a puzzle that is merely functional, let alone enjoyable to solve. I also learned much more about Tinkercad than I knew prior, and even a few new things about Blender. A lot of things that ended up being problems with my design (tolerance, easy of transportation) were things I hadn’t really considered before these attempts. I am very interested carrying over this sort of case design to my final project, but with a more eye-catching design.

All in all, I think this iteration did an okay job wrapping up this first project. Even at the end, I think it is still obvious that this is my first puzzle design (it’s still a really boring puzzle, to be honest!), but this iteration fixes most of the big issues myself and others had with this design. Due to time constraints and the print failing 3 times, I was not able to iterate this version as many times as I wanted. Because of this, there still may be some tolerance issues between the pieces of the lid.

Here’s a link to my updated puzzle on Thingiverse!

Note: Thingiverse struggled a lot with re-uploading my files. It gave me an error every time saying that I needed to have at least one non-image file despite having all of my .stls listed on the page. It looks okay to me now, but I apologize if it’s still messed up.

Personal Project Pitch

For my personal project, I would like to create a puzzle that is pleasing to touch and engage with, not one that is necessarily difficult. An idea I’ve had floating around in my head is another cube puzzle, but one that represents some sort of living creature. The case could be the outside of the creature/animal, the pieces the organs or muscles, and then the support that holds the pieces together as they’re being assembled or that locks them together when fully assembled could represent the spine/ other bone structures. I think it would be a really fun and difficult challenge to create a puzzle that represents something and isn’t just a geometric shape.

I being knowledge of design, illustration, and modelling software like Blender to this project. The knowledge of Blender has already been helpful, but I think it will be especially helpful for this project since I want to do something a little more involved with the design.

So far in this class I have learned a lot about the great, great importance of tolerances and how difficult good tolerance can be to achieve with 3D printing. I have also learned the importance of iterating in general. Even the design iterations that I was most confident about had issues after completion that were not at all visible to me beforehand.

I think I will have to learn how to use more features of Blender, especially measurement and what limited CAD features it has. I also think it would be very helpful to learn a full-featured CAD software like Solid Works, or even FreeCAD. I will have to learn how far I can push abstraction/stylization while keeping shapes and structures recognizable, which will require me to study extant sculptures or even 2D art.


20 Things in Fusion 360

Although I have quite a bit of experience with Blender, doing even simple things in Fusion 360 proved to be a little bit of a challenge. The more I worked, however, the easier navigating the program became.

The forms in the above image were created with the following tools (from top left to right): sketch and extrude, hole, sculpt, sketch and chamfer, extrude and shell, torus and pull, torus, and fillet.

The shapes in this image were created with the quad-ball tool, the slot tool, the slot and offset tool, the split body tool, the quad-ball and crease tool, the loft tool, the split body and shell tool, the plane tool, the pipe tool, and the fillet tool.

My 3D printed shape! This was the shape created using the slot and offset tools.


Digital Fabrication in the Makery

I chose to make a vinyl sticker at the Makery in Rose. Using Illustrator (which I am not very good at), I made a mock design for the outermost layer of my puzzle. This exploration will be useful for my final project because it will help me settle on a look for my outer shell.

My completed stickers.

To start with, I created the my design in Adobe Illustrator. After I finished my design, I exported it to CuttingMaster 4, which communicates with the large GraphTec cutter/plotter connected to the computer. After loading up some vinyl into the machine by raising and lowering a lever, I simply clicked “cut” and my design was cut out of the top layer of the vinyl. Next, I “weeded” the vinyl by removing pieces that I did not want to be present in the final sticker. And finally, I put transfer paper over the vinyl so that it could be easily placed on a surface.

Process shot of my sticker in Illustrator. Sorry its a photo of the screen rather than a screenshot.

Though I can’t really use vinyl in the final design (except maybe as branding on the base of the puzzle?), this exploration did help me to solidify what I would like my tiger to look like.

10 Things in OpenSCAD

Nine of the shapes I generated

The shapes I made are all rather basic. The first shape was made using the hull function with a cube and sphere. The second also used the hull function, but with a sphere and a sphere.  For the third and fourth shapes the linear extrusion function was used, but with different parameters. The fifth and sixth shapes were made by creating circles with different ‘f’ values. The seventh shape is a basic, default sphere and the eight shape a basic cube. The final shape on this image is a circle created with the circle function.

The tenth shape was created by creating two shapes and translating one.

I can see how OpenSCAD could be very useful software in the right circumstance, but I don’t think it’s the right tool I need for my project due to the organic shapes I will be working with.


Here are a few more shapes!

This shape was created by using the difference function and then creating a sphere. It resembles a geologic cut away of the earth’s crust.

This shape was generated using code created by Eric Buijs on YouTube. This vase is particularly interesting because it makes use of Bezier curves, which are not set up by default in OpenSCAD. I modified this design by changing one of the values associated with the cubic Bezier curve in the design.