The world’s first Lego 3D printer is a tech nerd’s dream

It's built entirely with LEGO.

Mar 1, 2020, 12:16 am*

Tech

 

Selena Larson

What do you get when you combine 3D printing and Lego? Something amazing, of course.

By now we’re used to seeing 3D-printing technologies used to build incredible objects, from human tissue to frosted cookies. But one Lego enthusiast is taking his love for the bricks and the programmable Lego robotics system Mindstorms to build a 3D printer that creates images out of the tiny plastic bricks.

Jason Allermann at JK Brickworks used a Lego Windstorms EV3 machine to scan and “print” a pixelated image on square-inch plates. Because the EV3 has a color sensor, it can scan an image that’s colored in pixelated squares and replicate the in brick form by selecting the appropriate colors fed through a gravity feed system. A stack of Lego bricks in the appropriate colors is set up on the side of the device.

The printing head is a round plate that picks up and snaps the Lego bricks into place. The body of the printer itself is also made of Lego bricks and bits of plastic all connected to the Mindstorms robot. Each plate takes about 20 minutes to print. 

In a video, Allermann describes the process. 

It’s not possible to scan any image, like you would with a traditional 3D printer, because the EV3 needs pixelated images to get the correct colors. But according to Allermann, he’s just getting started. 

Screengrab via JK Brickworks/YouTube

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*First Published: Jul 2, 2015, 11:59 am