Topographical Puzzle of the USA

Inspiration: I have always liked doing puzzles every since I was a little kid and it was one of my goals coming into the class to be able to make one. I also never have seen a topographical puzzle before so I thought it would be really interesting to see how it would work.

The Process:

First, I found a topographical model of the USA to use for my puzzle on thingiverse. Here is the link I used:

I traced out a sketch of the perimeter of the model using the spline tool. Then, I split the sketch into random pieces in the sketch environment.

I took this sketch into the form environment and extruded the outlines of each piece. Then I made the thickness of the piece boundaries 0.01mm thick so I could edit the form as a body.

I used this as a cutting tool to split the original model into 16 puzzle pieces There was a little excess on the outside boundaries where I did not trace the boundary exactly as it should have been. I deleted these parts out so they would not mess with the puzzle. They were only on the outside, so they did not mess with any of the puzzle fitting geometry on the inside. Now, I individual puzzle pieces of the USA.

Lastly, I used the sketch I made, scaled it up 5%, and cut it into a rectangular body to create a base for my puzzle to fit into.


I did not take into consideration any tolerance needed between the puzzle pieces so they actually do not fit it perfectly into the base i created. I tried to fix this by offsetting each piece by 0.2 mm, but I ran into problems doing that with such a complex design. While it still makes for a great puzzle by itself, I am sad that I was not able to get it to fit inside the base. I think my future project will be to try to make a simpler puzzle first before moving on to a more complex one like this.

Print Settings:

  • Layer Height: 0.2mm
  • Support off
  • Adhesion type: None
  • Print time: 5 hours and 36 minutes (puzzle pieces) 6 hours and 29 minutes (puzzle base)
  • Filament type: eSun PLA
  • Filament amount: 43g (puzzle pieces) and 84g (puzzle base)
  • 20% infill
  • Infill pattern: Lines

Thingiverse link:

Technical Drawing:

Leave a Reply