The perfect match? using 3d printing and lego for better prototyping
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The Good Match? Utilizing 3D Printing and LEGO for Higher Prototyping

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A diagram displaying frequent bodily prototyping strategies occupying a spectrum of constancy, reconfigurability and talent stage.  See extra on the clay modeling picture right here.

Whereas 3D printing has turn out to be a power in on-demand product manufacturing and a catalyst for creating many alternative practical objects, the know-how was created to permit engineers to create fast prototypes—with some being extra excellent than others. In ‘Accelerating product prototyping by hybrid strategies: Coupling 3D printing and LEGO,’ authors David Mathias, Chris Snider, Ben Hicks, and Charlie Ranscomb tackle a modular method to fabrication and prototyping.

For this venture, the authors designed six completely different 3D shapes with a ‘continuum of hypothetical brick sizes.’ And whereas it’s arduous not to consider LEGOS with out getting impressed simply as a result of artistic enjoyable issue related to the colourful constructing blocks, the researchers right here have been critical about finding out the advantages of such materials and technological collaboration—yielding a staggering discount in fabrication time of as much as 45 p.c, with ‘reconfigurability of 57 p.c on the optimum.’ Trailing behind additionally, are all of the basic advantages of 3D printing: pace in manufacturing, affordability, financial savings in price of supplies, and fast growth.

“Prototyping is an important a part of the product growth course of and it’s broadly accepted that elevated prototyping – each bodily and digital – results in improved merchandise,” state the authors of their examine.

They define the advantages of prototyping as follows:

Complete exploration of a design spaceOpportunity to unravel design problemsSupplementation of designers’ psychological modelsDiscovery of sudden phenomenaOffering boundary objects for communication

The ‘commerce off’ between time and high quality of labor in prototyping is mentioned at size, however the authors additionally remind us of one other profit in such a manufacturing as designers can interact with their designs extra bodily, ‘designing by hand.’

Apart from 3D printed buildings, different supplies typically utilized in prototyping are foam, cardboard, and clay—which generally is a high-fidelity endeavor. The authors remind us that it doesn’t matter what kind the prototype takes, if it’s the supplies are straightforward to make use of and the method promotes expediency, extra iterations may be made in striving to create a remaining product.

Advantages of including LEGO blocks to the 3D printing quotient embody:

Easy modelingNo well being or security precautions requiredAside from the plain supplies, no different instruments are required

“Coupling low price 3D printing and LEGO® introduces a stage of constancy unachievable by LEGO® alone whereas sustaining the flexibleness and reconfigurability of a building equipment. It affords fast ideation and modification with a bodily prototype to keep away from breaking person research or artistic episodes,” said the authors.

Pc simulation was used to evaluate the viability of the venture, after which it was put into motion 3D printing a video controller for a case examine meant to additional exhibit some great benefits of such a coupling for the constructing of prototypes. Typical primitive shapes have been chosen for the samples, within the type of:

These primitives consisted of:

CubeCylinderConeSphereTetrahedronTriangular Prism

The primitive shapes used within the simulations. From L to R: Dice, Cylinder, Triangular Prism, Tetrahedron, Cone, and Sphere

“The quantity of the objects was diversified over a variety of 1 × 103–eight × 103 mm3. These volumes have been used as they’re throughout the bounds of feasibility for many commercially obtainable desktop low price 3D printers–such because the Ultimaker three (9.42 × 103 mm3 (Ultimaker, 2018)) and Makerbot Replicator + (9.45 × 103 mm3 (MakerBot Industries, 2018)).”

“The simulations have been stepped 50 occasions over this quantity vary. This was then repeated for every of the thing shapes, and every of the sizes of brick.”

Sizes of bricks have been described as follows:

“The preliminary brick measurement was LEGO with dimensions of eight × eight × three.2 mm. For these simulations, a pool of normal bricks may very well be used to cut back the general brick rely (see Part three.three.2). Smaller and bigger bricks have been thought of both facet of LEGO, these embody NANO (four × four × three.2 mm) and DUPLO (16 × 16 × 19.2 mm). Using completely different sizes of brick affords completely different ranges of constancy, with the expectation that the smaller bricks will enable a greater approximation of extra advanced geometry.”

Comparability of the three sizes of building equipment brick

The researchers famous substantial time variations in 3D printing time for the three units of bricks—with NANO bricks providing slower time, LEGOs providing the ‘biggest enchancment in fabrication time’ and DUPLO bricks handing over a worse efficiency than the LEGO bricks. Reusability (the quantity of supplies that may be transferred to a different prototyping design expertise) was finest for NANO bricks; worst for DUPLO—leaving the authors to state the usage of smaller bricks can be finest for customers with reusability in thoughts.

Total, nevertheless, the modular dynamic means larger ease for customers as there may be substantial latitude in having the ability to bodily make modifications to the designs. Whether or not they’re inserting or eradicating LEGOS or refining the 3D printed elements, prototyping may be improved on quite a few ranges—providing extra expansive alternative for design by connecting the idea course of to that of precise, true bodily, fabrication.

“This method to creating looks-like prototypes of user-driven merchandise is kind dependent. Consequently, there may very well be higher approaches utilizing completely different prototyping strategies to cut back the fabrication time and prices for specific designs,” concluded the researchers.

“Additional work is required to comprehend the bodily practicalities of manufacturing prototypes utilizing this hybrid method, together with optimizing brick format for half power and ease of building, and to generate 3D printable floor items that connect to the LEGO bricks. Because the resultant prototype is modular it might should be constructed in such a approach that it may very well be sturdy sufficient to face up to designer/person interplay with out falling aside but be straightforward sufficient to dismantle or reconfigure.”

A plot displaying the entire fabrication time in opposition to the thing quantity for the three brick sizes, a reference line for solely printing the thing is included

3D printing and LEGOS are a pure match for customers creating tasks around the globe, not solely as a result of plastics concerned however as a result of they’re each centered round constructing and creating objects that will typically additionally incorporate electronics and revolutionary controllers, from a motorized Go-Kart to kits requiring 3D printing of just about 400 elements—or 3D printers truly constructed with LEGOS.

The library of normal LEGO® bricks

[Source / Image: ‘Accelerating product prototyping through hybrid methods: Coupling 3D printing and LEGO’]

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