Inside the LEGO Factory

Gizmodo is back with another amazing LEGO exclusive and this time he has been afforded the opportunity to explore (and film) inside the LEGO factory itself. His report includes several short videos showing the LEGO manufacturing process as well as some astonishing footage of how the bricks are stored in massive silos where no humans are allowed.

Some interesting facts and statistics I took from this are:

  • The plastic granules from which LEGO is made are a by-product of Diesel.
  • The LEGO machines produce 600 pieces per second (36,000 per minute, 2.1 million per hour or 19 billion per year).
  • The LEGO factory processes 60 tons of plastic  granules every 24 hours.
  • The plastic granules come in 70 basic colours, from which all other colours are derived.
  • The moulds that produce the LEGO pieces are retooled after 5 million uses.
  • Decorating the pieces is the most expensive part of the process.

Having spent a number of summer months working at an Injection Moulding company in a past life, I recognised much of the machinery and processes used but it is clearly off the radar in terms of scale, with pretty much everything controlled by a mainframe computer system.

Source: SlashDot

Triskit Project

Triskit is a fascinating project that takes the form of a self-generating toy system. If you own (or have access to) a mini laser cutter or acrylic sheet stock then you can use the Triskit software to design pieces for your very own toy system (called a Triskit). You can use the data that is produced by the software as input data for your laser cutter and the result is your very own, custom-made toy part.

Sample Triskit

One of the benefits of this is that, if you are trying to build a toy and find that you don’t have a particular part that does what you need, you can just make one to suit your needs. With the likes of LEGO and K’nex, you are limited to what pieces came in the original box.

Secret LEGO Vault

Here is real treat for LEGO fans everywhere. I learned today that there is a special vault at LEGO Headquarters in Denmark where they store one of every LEGO set ever created from 1953 to 2008, that’s 4720 sets, still in their original boxes!

Apparently one of the primary reasons for retaining such a collection is that LEGO can use it as a safeguard in copyright and patent cases.

To a long time LEGO fanatic like myself, this is an unimaginable concept and represents possibly the finest toy collection in existence bar none. Special thanks goes to Gizmodo for sharing the experience and emotion of his recent visit to this labrynth of true wonderment. His article and accompanying video are well worth checking out.

Source: SlashDot

Happy 50th Birthday LEGO Brick, my old friend

The infamous LEGO brick that we all know and love turned 50 years old today.

Personally, I have been a fan of LEGO for as long as I can remember and much to the credit of my forward-thinking parents (or were they just hoarders?), I still have pretty much all of it to this day. In recent years, I have discovered a renewed appreciation for this wonderful toy, mainly due to my 9 and 5-year old nephews and my 3 year-old daughter, all of whom play with the myriad of less-than-shiny bricks, wheels, windows, roof tiles and mini-people on an almost daily basis.

Amazingly, the boys have lots of their own (modern) LEGO but seem to prefer the simplicity and imagination of my collection. There aren’t many toys that could survive intact for over 30 years and still hold the imagination of today’s tech-hungry children for so long!

The LEGO company itself was actually first formed way back in 1934 by a Danish carpenter, Ole Christiansen, who had been making wooden toys for a number of years prior to that. It was in 1934 that he first named his company “LEGO”, a name that was derived from the Danish phrase leg godt that means “play well” but interestingly, LEGO also means “I assemble” in Latin. It was not until much later, in 1958, that the first LEGO brick was patented.

Gizmodo have also put together a great LEGO timeline in celebration of this momentous day.

Sources: SlashDot, WikiPedia