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Making Prototypes with a 3D Printer & LEGO: faBrickation

by Lambert Varias
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3D printing can help you create prototypes or mockups quickly. Or should I say relatively quickly – it can take a 3D printer hours to print even moderately-sized objects. To speed things up, students from the Human-Computer Interaction Group at the Hasso Plattner Institute tested adding LEGO to their workflow.

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Researchers Stefanie Mueller, Tobias Mohr, Kerstin Guenther, Johannes Frohnhofen and Patrick Baudisch call their project faBrickation. The idea is to print just the crucial parts of a prototype, then build the rest out of LEGO. To do that, they wrote a program called faBrickator, where they can open 3D models…

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…and “Legofy” it at the press of a button.

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Then they just mark the parts of the model that will be printed…

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…and build the rest with LEGO using instructions generated by faBrickator.

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They can also use faBrickator to go back to a 3D model, modify it and then print only the parts that were changed, once again saving time.

The group claims that on average, faBrickation lets them make prototypes nearly two and a half times faster than using 3D printing alone. I wonder if they can make a reverse faBrickation scanner, so laypeople can start making a “3d model” out of LEGO instead of a modeling software, scan that LEGO model then run the resulting model through faBrickation.

[via Hasso Plattner Institute via PSFK]

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