Cubicle Labs is a division of TheCubicle.us, one of the most popular online cube stores, and is led by and was founded in 2016 by Christopher V Tran, more commonly known by simply Chris Tran. Cubicle Labs has been responsible for releasing many new cubing innovations and ideas to the public, including magnets in speedcubes, boron treated cubes, MagLev tensions, as well as longer-lasting water and silicone based lubricants. Cubicle Labs is best known for taking a scientific approach to speedcubing hardware.
Cubicle Labs products and projects
Lubicle Silk was developed by Cubicle Labs before they had even officially started. It is a green water-based lubricant and is arguably the most popular premium lubricant from TheCubicle.us.
Dyed cubes have been made by Cubicle Labs and are sold around certain holidays such as Halloween, Christmas, and St. Patrick's Day. They are created by dying certain pieces which result in unique and vibrant colored illusion cubes.
Neodymium magnets have taken a huge role in popularizing Cubicle Labs and have been the most widespread cubing innovation produced by them. This was the first project released to the public by Cubicle Labs. Neodymium magnets have since been used in setting world records for the Rubik's Cube, 4x4x4 Cube, 5x5x5 Cube, 6x6x6 Cube, Megaminx, Pyraminx, Skewb, and more.
Companies such as MoYu, QiYi, and Z have added magnets into their pyraminx, skewb, 3x3x3, and 4x4x4 puzzles. Cubicle Labs has also worked directly with Gans to create the first mass-produced magnetic 3x3x3 cube, the GAN 356 Air UM.
Magnets are able to increase the stability of cubes and decrease lockups and catches dramatically, which is why they have helped many speedsolvers achieve lower times and produce many new world records.
However, magnets don't always improve all twisty puzzles. Although they give added stability, they can add up to be too heavy for some cubers in puzzles where you would need a lot of magnets, such as in the 7x7x7 Cube. Also, magnets tend to not be widely liked in 2x2x2 Cubes because the added stability does not necessarily make up for the slightly lowered speed. This is because 2x2x2 Cubes generally take a fraction of the time to solve compared to more complex puzzles such as the Rubik's Cube, so therefore the speed affects results more than the stability that the magnets give.
Cubicle Labs has also released the Boob Cube M, which includes magnets which repel each other, preventing the cube from being solved. It was released as an April Fools' joke, however it is a real product and is available for purchase.
DNM-37 is a blue-purple, long-lasting, water-based lubricant and was the first lubricant released by Cubicle Labs. It was inspired from how Maru Lube would dry out quite fast due to being water-based, meaning that Maru Lube would often make puzzles slower after they dried out rather than keeping the puzzles fast. Because of this issue, DNM-37 was released in order to resolve this issue. It is made from a special formula designed to retain moisture from the air, allowing it to remain effective for a much longer period of time compared to Maru Lube, as well as Z Lube.
Project Boron-22 was a project that focused on changing the structure of the plastic in cubes to make the puzzle feel softer and smoother. The project was the first project that Chris Tran wanted to work on, but instead released magnets first. The idea of Boron-22 came about because of DaYan switching the plastic type in their ZhanChi 2x2x2 cubes to a generally more disliked plastic type that was harder and scratchier compared to the original plastic. Because of this, Cubicle Labs started on developing boron-treated prototype cubes for not only the DaYan 2x2x2, but as well as other cubes and puzzles. The project was, however, scrapped due to inconsistencies in the plastic, high expenses, and properties that made for undesirable characteristics such as the degradation of superglue for magnets. It was succeeded by the Polymer Coating project.
Boron-treated plastic has been used to accomplish the current (as of 11 Jul 2017) Megaminx single and average world records by Juan Pablo Huanqui (29.93 single; 35.15 average).
Generally, twisty puzzle plastics are made from Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS). The reason that some cubes have different feelings to them may be because the manufacturer ran the plastic at different temperates, has different additives added into their plastic, has different dyes, etc. By modifying the Acrylonitrile and the Butadiene in ABS plastic, the feeling can change in a twisty puzzle. Butadiene controls how soft or hard a plastic feels, and the Nitrile group in Acrylonitrile controls how "grippy" the plastic is. Hydroboration, hence the name "Boron-22," is done to eliminate double-bonds in Butadiene which leads to a softer feeling.
Lubicle 1, originally Fluonium and then temporarily renamed Lubicle ONE, is a white, long-lasting, silicone-based teflon lubricant and was the third lubricant developed by Cubicle Labs. The idea came after DNM-37 was developed when Chris Tran wanted to create a silicone-based equivalent of it. The bottle that Lubicle 1 comes in also contains a ball bearing inside to help the particles in the lube disperse.
MagLev tensioning uses repelling magnets in cubes' centers for tensioning instead of springs. It is often reported that they don't create much of a difference compared to springs other than making the cube a bit heavier, which is why Chris Tran has said before that MagLev will likely never be sold publicly at Cubicle Labs.
Lubicle Black, originally FluoniumBLACK, is a type of lube initially showed off in Chris Tran's Fourth Chemistry Lesson video. It is a similar lubricant variation to Lubicle 1. Its purpose is for lubing metal-on-plastic surfaces such as the core of a puzzle. It is expected to release soon.
Luxury Cube Case
The Cubicle Labs Luxury Cube Case is a cube case with two lids on the top, and the three pieces stay together as one whole box with magnets. It is expected to release soon.
Project Isinglass (or Nitride Coating) was a project involving Nitride coatings for speedcubes in order to make them faster and have lower friction. By using what is currently a publicly unknown mixture, the plastic becomes sticky and absorbs sub-micron nitride into the surface. Once the solvent mix evaporates, the cube's plastic hardens and the result is a heterogeneous plastic-nitride surface, which is what causes the low friction.
Project Isinglass was scrapped and succeeded by the Polymer Coating project.
Growth Serum was an accidental discovery by Chris Tran. This, however, deforms the plastic which makes the cube unturnable. The growth serum also has been described as having an unpleasant smell. The result of the growth serum was demonstrated in this video. The growth serum is very unlikely to ever be released by Cubicle Labs.
Polymer Coating is a coating which gives a smooth yet fast and controllable feeling to puzzles. It is only a few microns wide, despite the massive improvements in feeling that it gives twisty puzzles. Polymer Coating is the successor to Boron-22 and Insinglass.
- Allison Li's in-depth video about Cubicle Labs
- Chris Tran's Demonstration of Magnetic Cubes
- Chris Tran's Chemistry Lesson Video on DNM-37 Revision C
- Chris Tran's Chemistry Lesson Video on Project Boron-22
- Chris Tran's Physics Lesson Video on Why Lubicle 1 has Ball Bearings
- Chris Tran's Explanation on MagLev Tensioning
- Chris Tran's Chemistry Lesson about Lubicle 1 and Lubicle Black