Weather Updates

If a Rubik’s cube is just too easy for you . . .

Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: July 17, 2013 6:23AM

When Dane Christianson was an Illinois Math and Science Academy freshman, he solved a Rubik’s cube in 27 seconds. Then, he said, the game got boring, so he decided to make his own version.

“I wanted a puzzle that could change shape and have pieces sticking out instead of just a cube,” he said. “I thought it would be cool if people could solve a Rubik’s cube, but in the shape of an X.”

Four years later, Christianson, now a sophomore at the Illinois Institute of Technology, has created a prototype of his more-complicated Rubik’s cube, which he calls the X-Cube, using a 3-D printer at school.

The X-Cube, the Batavia native says, is much more challenging than a standard Rubik’s cube.

“There are 43 quintillion ways to jumble up a Rubik’s cube,” he said. “That means that even if you spent all the time since the beginning of the universe, spending one second per pattern on a Rubik’s cube, you wouldn’t have enough time to look at all the patterns.”

Christianson, 20, said the X-Cube has 125 decillion possible patterns — about two quadrillion more than the Rubik’s cube.

“This one has two levels,” he said. “You have to figure out how to get the shape right, and then figure out how to get the colors right. And sometimes those goals don’t really line up.”

After building the original prototype of the X-Cube, Christianson decided to put a video of his creation on YouTube. Within nine days of posting the video, more than 1.5 million people had seen it. That’s when he decided this was a product he could sell.

Christianson, who is a mechanical engineering major at IIT, first created the design of the X-Cube on his computer. He used computer-aided design software to create a model of the cube. Then he exported the design to an STL file, which is the common format for 3-D files, similar to a DOC file for a paper printer. The 3-D printer at school, housed in IIT’s Idea Shop, could then read the file and produce his X-Cube.

Last week, Christianson took to Kickstarter, the popular crowdfunding website, to raise money to manufacture more X-Cubes. His Kickstarter goal was $30,000; as per Kickstarter rules, if his donations made it to that amount by July 7 (one month after he launched his Kickstarter campaign), he would get the money. If not, he would get nothing.

Donations for the X-Cube were $2,000 above the $30,000 goal within one week of the campaign launch. Now, Christianson is focusing on distributing his creation. He has struck a deal with Marbles: The Brain Store, the Chicago-based retailer, to stock the X-Cube nationwide. He also has a Hong Kong-based manufacturer ready to produce more X-Cubes.

Marbles co-founder Scott Brown said the X-Cube is perfect for the store, which specializes in products that add a twist to a game people already know.

“We like taking things your brain is already used to and changing it slightly so that your brain has to think about it in a different way,” Brown said.

Brown said Christianson will decide how much to charge for the X-Cube, but he estimates it will be $30-$40.

Eventually, Christianson hopes people will enjoy playing with the X-Cube as much as he does.

“It’s been many months; I think I should be able to break five minutes soon,” he quipped about solving it.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.