Lego structures could help to remodel the Process Industry

With a handful of blockbuster movies, multiple world-wide theme parks, and the hearts and minds of millions of children and adults alike to their name – LEGO's popularity continues to build unabated...piece by colourful piece.

But far from just being the preserve of diehard enthusiasts of all ages, the Danish structural building kits are inspiring expert modellers to build ever-more impressive LEGO buildings and laying the foundations for innovative new manufacturing processes on a grand scale.

A short history of LEGO

LEGO was founded in Billund, Denmark by the Kirk Kristiansen family in 1932 and now ranks among the biggest toy manufacturers in the world. “The company today provides toys, experiences and teaching materials for children in more than 130 countries,” according to their website. Children across the globe reputedly spend five billion hours a year constructing LEGO structures.

Yes, we're a society of LEGO-holics who just can't seem to put those nobbled, rainbow building blocks away. Some more so than others, as you can attest from these incredible creations.

Impressive Lego structures

Lego Pharaoh

Impressive lego srtuctures

An enormous 16-foot (4.9-metre) Lego structure of an ancient pharaoh took centre stage at Legoland Windsor back in 2009. The Egyptian ruler replica was apparently the biggest LEGO structure ever created, comprising 200,000 individual pieces and weighing in at more than a ton.

Lego Sport City

Lego sport city

The Hong Kong LEGO Users Group (HKLUG) tirelessly recreated Beijing's Sport City, right down to a miniature Bird's Nest stadium, to help promote the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

Lego Airbus A380

It was only a matter of time before the world's largest commercial passenger aeroplane, the Airbus A380, was homaged with the biggest LEGO aeroplane in the world. The 1:25 scale model measures an impressive 9.5-foot long, has a 10.5-foot wingspan, and stands 3.2-foot tall. All in, it's the product of 100kg of bricks or 75,000 pieces to be precise.

That's all very well and good. But what if this wildly popular toy could be used on an industrial scale? Well, as it happens, several projects have seen that very notion click into place.

Kite Bricks

Israel-based developer, Ronnie Zohar, and his company Kite Bricks has launched a patent pending line of construction blocks that bear more than a passing resemblance to the toy box classic. According to a recent Daily Mail Online report, Zohar claims his bricks can cut constructions costs and building time by up to 80 percent, as well as slashing energy bills.

The Kite Bricks website claims that, “The brick is amenable for building houses, buildings, bridges and more. The block is constructed of high-strength concrete with unique properties that allow for the building of truly ecological structures, with large savings in electricity expenses associated with seasonal heating and cooling. The block allows for faster, cheaper, more precise, and stronger building than is available through traditional building methods.”


There is no doubt that 3D printing has revolutionised the manufacturing process. Although, despite the ability to form a widget overnight, some would prefer a speedier and cheaper modelling alternative before they set the printer whirring. Cue Stefanie Mueller, a PhD Student from the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany.

Her low-fi fabrication project, faBrickation, tackled the subject of fast prototyping. She says, “In contrast to the traditional workflow, in which the 3D model is always fabricated as a slow hi-fidelity version, low-fi fabrication fabricates all intermediate versions as fast, low-fidelity previews.

“Our project faBrickation limits 3D printing to the few parts that actually require the high resolution of the 3D printer and uses construction kit building blocks, such as LEGO, everywhere else,” she adds. Mueller claims that, on average, her system fabricates objects 2.44 times faster than traditional 3D printing and requires just 14 minutes of manual assembly.

We'll wager that you'll be dusting off your LEGO sets, and building your own prototypes, in no time now that there's scientific proof that this humble children's plaything can be transformed into an industrial modelling tool. That's what you can tell the boss anyway. Good luck building it into your appraisal though...

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