Feel like a puzzle? Simple Marble Run v1.0.9

I assume there are lots of people just like you, that prefer GF only builds. I ran into a couple snags when testing the project without the added hardware, so I am making a few additional adjustments. I hope to have the new (hardware-less) design done by this weekend, but my day job is getting in the way…

It doesn’t help that Prime is no longer one day :slight_smile: Some things don’t show up for a WHOLE WEEK!!! (please realize I am just kidding)


In the 3D printing world, the term we use for non-printable hardware is “vitamins.” They can definitely add strength/fortification to a design, but it’s always a fun challenge to minimize or eliminate them if you can.

If I find that a vitamin-free design requirement affects the functionality, it’s usually better to just use them, or sometimes I’ll design both ways.

It is also a good idea to keep a stock of basic hardware in your workshop. For a couple bucks, you can get a small plastic case with assorted nuts & bolts at your local hardware store. It’s always handy to have a few different sizes and lengths.


I thought about buying one and using it as a template to make more.


I have seen several different versions. But, my favorites are more open so you can see more of how the ball travels around.

And I like being able to add motors, but I prefer manual cranks just because you don’t need additional pieces.

When I first started designing the first one, I didn’t even consider that I might be able to create the whole thing without any bolts, nuts, and washers. But, I have learned quite a bit in all my attempts.


The new version is complete. I posted it here:



I’ve noodled on building something like this with rolling discs instead of marbles. Gives you some interesting opportunities and limitations to work with too.


Wow… I really like that idea! Challenge excepted! Corners sound like the trickiest part upon initial speculations…


Inspired by your project, I started designing a Marble Run in a slightly different format. I was thinking along the lines of an ant farm, where the case is so thin as to effectively be 2-dimensional. The marble run components would be sandwiched between two clear sheets of acrylic. (I was going to call this variation a “Marble Farm.”)

Something like that would probably work just as well with discs as with spheres.

That is a really nice work on the vitamin-free remix of your Marble Run, BTW!


I look forward to seeing your “Marble Farm”!


@bill.m.davis, congratulations on this excellent project. It was an interesting and fun puzzle to make.

I cut it out and assembled it in about 1 hour. I just fished some hardware from my surplus jar and presto. At first I tried with some slightly smaller glass marbles 3/8" but they would jump the rails. Later I got some 1/2" steel bearings and they stuck on the first pass hole. After I tweaked it with a file, it works beautifully without jumping the rails (on a level surface).

I´m surprised at the precision and press fit of the design. At first I assembled it just press fit with no glue, just to make sure everything was in its correct place, and to my surprise it held upright and firm and worked just fine. To finish I disassembled and added glue to all the intersections except the second ramp, to be able to remove the central axel if necessary.

If you look closely at my design you will notice a strange main gear, because my GF stopped working just before the gear cap for the bearings got cut, so I improvised with some scraps.
(my GF is now waiting for a replacement black ribbon lid cable).

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge, experience and design.


My latest version has raised edges, to prevent balls from jumping the rails even if it is not completely level.

Nice improvision! Yeah, that last piece is only there to prevent the balls from falling through at the bottom.

LOL! I am very new to Glowforge and this creator space… But I do love playing with machines and drawing SVGs, so it is a perfect combination here!

I learned a lot with this build, and I look forward to coming up with and sharing much more!

Thanks for sharing your experience with my build! I love it when I see others create it and share their stories. And your’s was very interesting with your improvisation! (But very sorry to hear about your machine being down… I know it was very hard for me when mine stopped working too.)


I absolutely LOVE marble runs…awesome job!

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Did you see that I used your suggestion in the latest version? Thanks for that!

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Yes, indeed!

I am planning to cut another one using your latest design. I might not get to it until the weekend. Still have to find some smaller marbles!

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We are using this.

Or at least something really close to this that we already had.


This is amazing!!!
I want to try and make this but I don’t see how to download the design. Is it no longer available? Or am I just a dinosaur that can’t figure it out :slight_smile:

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It’s the first image in their post.


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Thank you.

I saw that and figured that’s what it was but there is no download button or way for me to save it. Do I right click on it and save as, then open in Inkscape or how do i use it?
Sorry, probably a really easy solution that I am not just seeing.

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You can right-click and “Save as…” then you can upload it to the Glowforge to print it.

Be sure to set the text to “Score”. It should be the second grouping from the top.