Is Lego a maker’s tool? But, more importantly, is Lego destined to play a much bigger role than previously imagined in the world of making and in tomorrow’s self manufacturing? The faBrickation team at the Hasso Plattner Institut in Germany seems to think so. They have developed a new approach to rapid prototyping functional objects that cuts time by mixing together Lego brick assembly and 3D printing.
Their faBrickation software analyzes the 3D model to be built and automatically works in standard building blocks, in this case Lego bricks. Any part that cannot or should not be made in Lego can easily be marked for 3D printing and factored in. The software also calculates instructions for the Lego assembly, that can be put together while the extra parts are being 3D printed.
Insert Image, align right, text wrap: 1e-head-mounted-display.jpeg Their first project was an Oculus Rift-like device. The body was made in Lego but the lens mounts and certain other parts, such as the nose piece and check bones protectors, were 3D printed for added (or necessary) comfort. These are the parts that might need to be modified for all the different possible wearers: the faBrickation software can quickly analyze which bricks need to be removed and calculate the new shape of the 3D printed parts, that are small and can thus be made in just a few minutes.
The result: 3D printing the entire item would have required over 14 hours, while the Lego and 3D print mix took only 67 minutes. It might not be the prettiest of all head mounted displays but, then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and in this case the beholder’s eyes are going to be on the inside of a functioning head mounted visor, built from scratch in little over an hour.
Other examples of brick & 3D printed items include a practical object such as a soap holder and a fun toy such as a penny ballista. In these cases the time difference between full 3D printing and faBrickation is more contained but still worth considering, especially for the many who just love to build using Lego bricks.
I know it is superficial, but I cannot help wondering what Christy Mack, the pornstar who recently made headlines for an indecent Lego contest proposal on Twitter, would make with this?