When the Rubik’s Cube first came out in the 1970s, it was far from the Rubik’s Cube puzzles we have today. The original cubes were cheaply made and were often a struggle to turn. This was perfectly fine for the time being. Speed solving was not yet established and people were more intrigued by the puzzle itself and not concerned with how fast one could solve it.
The Inventor: Erno Rubik
Since then, however, most people who are serious about cubing or try to reduce their solve times, wouldn’t dare to attempt a solve on an actual Rubik’s Cube. (Although most cubers do have an original Rubik’s Cube for collection purposes). Instead, most cubers opt for a more modern type of puzzle known as a “speed cube”.
There are many different manufactures of speed cubes and more enter the scene each year. Some of the main manufactures include: GAN, MoYu, QiYi MoFangGe, DaYan, FangShi, YuXin, and more. Because of the puzzles created by these brands, the world record has dropped from 22.95 seconds in 1985 to 3.47 seconds as of November 2018. This record was set by Yusheng Du (杜宇生) using a magnetized MoYu WeiLong GTS2.
Yusheng Du (杜宇生) setting the WR
This large drop in solve times is mostly due to better technology and materials used in manufacturing. The plastics that are used now are a more durable and often softer type of plastic that reduces friction. The puzzle pieces themselves are designed with grooves to reduce friction and the cores are flexible which allows for better corner cutting and fewer lockups. Special lubricants have also been introduced in the past few years to reduce friction even further and to speed up the puzzle.
The most recent technology to be introduced to speed cubing that has had a huge impact on solve times is adding adjustable magnets to the inside of the pieces.
Magnets inside a speed cube
It has helped improve the solve experience so much that magnetized cubes are now the preferred puzzle of most speed cubers. This trend started when cubers began to disassemble puzzles and glue tiny magnets in each piece. It didn’t take long for manufacturers to catch on either and now most of the top manufactures have released magnetized speed cubes.
But how do magnets help?
Magnetizing the puzzle allows it to almost snap into place after making a turn. This is a huge advantage when you’re turning the puzzle multiple times per second. It keeps the puzzle in its cubic shape and reduces lockups even more. It does add a little weight to the puzzle but most cubers don’t mind and even prefer the heavier feel.
With so many advancements in speed cubes, some might argue that we’re very close to reaching the fastest solve times humanly possible. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see