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Making Europe Surprise
Making Europe Surprise
Sep 5, 2021
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Making Europe Surprise

The Idea

After launching Smartek in it's standard 19 blocks box we were always dreaming of releasing a smaller more entry point package. Think about trading cards (type of loot boxes) where for a low amount you get a few cards and the kick is that you do not know what is inside. We imagened that three blocks should be enough to understand the magic of Smartek. But what would make people buy more surprise boxes?

Since we recently made a 19 box flags set (S0093), this pointed us in the direction of flags. But which flags? How many can you make with 3 blocks?

Here is a video of our first 24 European flags we build with 3 blocks:

During our day job (at Riscure) we were approached by NL to see if we as Riscure and Smartek could sponsor the event. This actually was the main motivator to further explore our idea and to work on a nice new 3 blocks packages. Read more about the event in our previous blog.

Package Development

The main requirements for our new package are that we should be able to make it ourselves or with local companies. Furthermore the packages should be small enough to fit in a mailbox so we can ship it cheaper. Also the packages should conceal what is inside in order not to ruin the surprise. Finally it shouldn't be opened that easily e.g. against theft in stores.

Browsing around in our local toy store (with the help of my family) this is what you see a lot:

Fidget toys in our local toy store

Based on our 'research' we imaged a clamshell design where the plastic (to hold the blocks) is held by two pieces of cardboard which are stapled together. For this we need a cardboard design which needs to be cut a few times, a piece of folded plastic to hold the blocks and a few staples. Easy?!

Molding the plastic with Mayku

We love manufacturing and already own a 3D printer (Prusa MK3S with MMU2) and Ultra-Sonic Welding Machine, it was time to buy another great device: Mayku - FormBox. The FormBox is basically the inverse of our 3D printed parts. It can form plastic (either white or transparent) around a template. We therefore 3D printed eight blocks which are a bit bigger and slightly angled than three blocks of Smartek.

Our production facility

The first step is to place the white plastic form sheet on the FormBox and let is heat (~250 Celsius) until it becomes soft.

Placing the white form sheet

After placing the form sheet we move it up to the heater and while it is getting soft we place the eight 3D printed templates on the metal mesh.

Placing the forms

Here is a short video of the process (without sound).

The final product is the plastic sheet formed around the eight templates.

The final result

Europe Surprise

Time to make the complete package. We start with testing if the three blocks fit.

Will it fit?

With a 3D printed template we cut out the proper shape for the package.

We asked a professional printer to print the cardboard sheets (300gr paper) and cut the cardboard on the outsides. This is actually cheaper than doing this on my home printer since printer inkt is expensive (crazy).

We have three cutters to finalise the cardboard. First we cut the corners, then cut out the hole (within the black box) and then cut a EURO SLOT on top of the package.

We finalise the package by placing three blocks inside the form and place it inside the hole. We fold the paper in two parts like a clamshell and with three staples we fix the form and also hold the two parts of the cardboard together (Bada Bing!).

The Final result - Europe Surprise - S2000

European flags

We can probably have a long discussion how many official countries or states there are in Europe. We took the List of European Countries from Wiki and counted 51 states. We did exclude Kazakhstan from the list since we do not have the right color and replace it with a Rainbow flag instead.

The complete set of flags you can get

We ended up with 46 variations of three blocks colours where countries like Luxembourg and The Netherlands have the same flag colours (we only have one type of blue). Also Russia, Slovakia and Slovenia have the 'same' flag since we do not have enough granularity to show the small details. For the Croatian, United Kingdom and Scandinavic flags we had to be a bit creative. Hopefully people will recognise some of the flags?


One thing to figure out is still the frequency of each to be produced? Will we keep the frequency of the flags equally or is the frequency of the flags depending on the amount of people living in a country or the size of country (land mass)? What is better? Any good suggestions?

We decided to make 300 sets and personally defined a weight factor for every flag. Bigger countries have a higher weight factor than smaller countries. The higher weight factor was for the Rainbow flag because it is cool and universal.

Figured out the distribution we moved on to production .


Move over Netflix. It's time for mass production at home. Much more satisfying than binge-watching.

300 three blocks EU flags
300 boxes needed to be filled with blocks and than stapled
Randomizing them on the couch
Nicely packed for

We are definitely looking forward to hand-out the flags during NL 25-29th of October to see what the audience think of this surprise?

More info: