As a little kid I constantly found myself wanting to take apart objects or find a way to lock mechanisms that could be used for storage. For example, I had a special piggy bank for my allowance that had a key locking mechanism which must be inserted a certain way to unlock the piggy bank. These simplistic objects and toys were my childhood and have always served a purpose in my life. Lately, I have been wanting to build my own locking mechanism and utilize the resources I have available at school before I graduate. Therefore, this project provides the perfect opportunity for me to incorporate an aesthetic while designing something that can be 3D printed.

Just the other day, I remembered how difficult it is to think of an idea that meets the project requirements but also one that interests me moving forward. In my previous projects such as the Upcycle Project I spent a great deal of time focusing on what to design and how to make that design come to life. Creativity is not one of my strong suits and therefore, I struggle to find meaningful projects to create. However, with a cryptex lock there are a magnitude of ways to fabricate and design the overall locking mechanism. Some common design opportunities include how the key will be designed, how many teeth the key will have, what will the lock combination be for the lock, and will the locking mechanism include numbers or letters.

As I begin in the early concept phase of this project, I have not yet narrowed down any of the design questions above or what aesthetic I am going to portray. I think locks are a timeless and rustic piece of equipment however I am not sure that is the route I want to take moving forward. After doing a bit of research online, I found locks that were gothic themed or ones that were dark naturalism themed.

Upon completion of my research looking online for inspiration it seemed pretty apparent that all these locks follow a standard design pattern. They usually have a standard shape with a desired number of dials and a long horizontal key that protrudes into the dials. This key is how the cryptex lock knows when the correct code has been entered and allows for the storage inside the lock to become exposed. I think this project has a lot of work left and a lot of design concepts to consider but it is exciting to have a project that I am able to make my own throughout the rest of the semester.

[1] “Cryptex Puzzles & Locks.” Puzzle Box World,

[2] “Finance and Currency: Money Concept – Coins (Pennies) Spilling out from Open Combination Puzzle Box with Rings of Letters (Cryptex), See a Set Password.” FeaturePics,

[3] “BuildMe! 3D Wooden Cryptex Combination Lock Pick Puzzle / Working Lock Kit.”,

[4] “ • View Topic – Cryptex Puzzle: Wooden Puzzle Box, Unique Items Products, Wooden Box Diy.” Pinterest,

[5] “335.73US $: Fashion New Style Educational Toys Cryptex Locks Gift Ideas Da Vinci Code Lock to Marry Lover Escape Chamber Props Black: Locks: – AliExpress.”,

Previous Post
Organics Inspired Desk Water Fountain
Next Post
light and dark main project inspirations

4 Comments. Leave new

  • Ankit Shukla
    March 10, 2021 1:42 pm

    I love the idea of a storage box with a locking mechanism that you will design. When I first saw a Cryptex in the Da Vnci Code movie, I was amazed. So that could be a reason I am interested to find out more about your project.
    Good luck!

    • Branden Tangney
      March 10, 2021 2:31 pm

      I hope my idea for this design can even remotely resemble the Cryptex in the Da Vinci Code. Either way, I am very excited for this project and to push my boundaries a bit more!

  • Gary Marshall
    March 4, 2021 12:57 am

    Hi Branden, I cannot express how excited I am to see how this project turns out! I love the idea of a cryptex and especially one made in this class. I have always loved puzzles in real life, movies, and games, so I really am eager to see how complex you can make this. Regarding the aesthetic, cryptex containers like the ones you have shown have always been used in the past so their aesthetics belong to the 10th to 18th century approximately. Do you plan to give this new one a more modern look or do you plan to stick to the original styles of the past?

    • Branden Tangney
      March 4, 2021 11:17 am

      Hi Gary,

      I am glad you’re interested in this project! I love cryptex and I think there is so much room for creativity within the project. Depending on my time constraints and capabilities, I think a nice 4 dial cryptex would be perfect. I have both black and yellow PLA and think I am going to print my cryptex using these colors so I think I might stick within the 10th to 18th century for this aesthetic.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.