The Minecraft Chemistry Challenge

Minecraft is an truly awesome game. Think of it as digital lego set in a infinitely explorable world. But its real draw is that is encourages creativity on so many level. Players can build what they like, but also the code is open source, allowing creative coders to fiddle with rules and resources in the game. The result is a multitude of modifications (or mods in Minecraft parlance).


There are mods for every taste, including those who favour a spot of virtual  chemistry, in the form of Minechem. It allows for some surprisingly sophisticated chemistry. With a range of devises and tools everything in the world can be broken down into elements, and then reacted together to yield an incredible array of compounds.

As fun as Minechem is, my favourite mod of the moment is Printcraft. This allows the player to output anything they have built to a file that can be read by a 3D printer. And given that I have just assembled one of these wonderful contraptions (or ‘plastic tat generators’ as my better half prefers to call it), combined with my son’s Minecraft addiction means that my house is now slowly being invaded by virtual buildings turned real.

So I think I need something more meaningful to do with it. And so over to you. Build me something! Build me something original that’s related to the chemical sciences, be it useful, interesting or just plain cool. And I’ll 3D print (and send the designer) the best ones.

So here are the rules:

1) Construct something related to the chemical sciences in Minecraft, using the official printcraft server (use Minecraft 1.7.8)

Alternatively you can download the sever and run it locally or use the one I’ve set up (connect to IP using Minecraft 1.6.4)

2) Upload the STL file ,that printcraft spits out, to Thingiverse and tag it with 3DMineChem.

3) Add a link to your Thingiverse file in the comments below.

Lets see what we can come up with shall we?

P.S My ulterior motive is that I’m trying to come up with an Minecraft/chemistry workshop for school children and I need some inspiration and some beta-testers of my server.


  1. from an analytical chemists perspective:

    Based on the Minechem mod, you could introduce physico-chemical properties (for every compound) like absorption, fluorescence, mass(es), pKa, color(-change), conductibility, etc…

    Now let us also introduce some basic components like light-emitters (i.e. bulbs), prisma/modulators, thermometers, conductometers, EC-detectors, light-detectors (very basic!), a sample-holder, etc as craftable blocks. Even components from chromatography and electrophoresis might be possible.

    You could build a working photometer/fluorimeter from these blocks… maybe even a time-of-flight-mass spectrometer. Not just as one-block-unit but as changeable, customizable building in your world. Player could easily build up a basic thing, change things, and look how things work.

    And with some instruments they could examine blocks in the minecraft world and quantify the amount of substance in them.

    This is just a rough idea. I like it, though. So, I will maybe tidy it up a little and do a blog post on it later 🙂

    My two cents

  2. I think Minecraft is fascinating in the sense that as one plays the game they are learning as well. I think it’s a great way to better ones knowledge towards chemistry.


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