Tag Archives: Lincoln Logs

Why 3D Printing Will Be More Fun Than LEGO: Minecraft Video

Minecraft 3D Print

As humans, we attach more value to things we create than things created for us (See Dan Ariely’s research to understand what he calls “The Ikea Effect”).

This common psychological motivation is why personalized 3D printing will engender a new generation of toys that are not mass produced. Although toys like LEGO and Lincoln Logs let kids use building blocks to create their own structures, they are still limited to the granularity of the block.

The popularity of the game Minecraft has shown that kids are ready to go beyond centimeter-tall blocks, and want to build entire worlds. One 3D printing enthusiast has demonstrated how to export your Minecraft village and print a physical copy to play with.

Minecraft Village Digital to 3D Print

In the video below, watch as he walks through his digital to 3D printed transformation.

We have reported about this before. This is just the beginning. The toy industry is soon to be turned upside down as 3D printing gains popularity.

What to 3D Print: Wired Showcases the Best of Thingiverse

MakerBot Mario Kart Koopa Racer

Wired and Thingiverse teamed up to showcase some of the most impressive 3D printing designs that can be printed on your MakerBot.

Above is a genuine Mario Kart Koopa shell racer.

His goal was to build a full-size RC vehicle based on Mario Kart Koopa shells. The Makerbot’s constraints would have stymied a lesser designer, but by breaking the design into small parts, Skimbal created a large, multi-color object, where the resolution is barely noticeable. The project takes over 40 hours to complete, but it’s like being able to print the Mona Lisa in your garage.

3D Printed Lincoln Log Cabin

Next we have a Lincoln Log cabin. We have covered the disruptive impact that 3D printing will have on the toy industry. Why buy expensive toys when you can 3D print cheap generics?

3D Printed Heart-Shaped Gears

And finally, we have a novel design called Big Love Heart Gears. This is something that would not be possible with traditional manufacturing processes because the design is printed as one interconnected object.


Via Wired.

3D Printing the Rosetta Stone for Kids Toys: Nerd Dad Triumph

Free Universal Construction Kit

Carnegie Mellon Professor Golan Levin has built the Rosetta Stone for kids toys. His Free Universal Construction Kit is a design for parts that enable interoperability between Legos, Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs and several more popular toy brands. The catch? If you want these parts, you have to 3D print them yourself!

In what Forbes calls the “ultimate nerd dad triumph”, Levin and his former student Shawn Sims made sure these parts will fit:

Levin and Sims didn’t just make near replicas of the commercial toys, they used a measurement tool called an optical comparator to copy the toys’ dimensions to within 3 microns. And then they published those models on the Web. “Our lawyers were a bit concerned,” ­admits Levin, so much so that the pair initially planned to release the project anonymously.

Professor Golan Levin - Free Universal Construction Kit

Back in April, we highlighted the potential disruptive impact 3D printing could have on the toy industry.

With the price of toys so marked up, it’s within reason to think that kids will turn to generics or pirated designs to fill out their toy chest after parents tap out the budget at retail.

Look back at the music industry. The only way to buy music in the late 90s was to purchase the full album at retail. Then Napster and other P2P sharing software came along and allowed consumers to download individual mp3 songs, albeit pirated. When iTunes launched with individual song pricing and a more reliable service than the P2P networks, consumers flocked to the legal alternative. The retail music industry died but the digital music industry was born.

Perhaps in the next 5 years we’ll see the retail toy industry collapse and be replaced by a digital successor. The question is whether we will see a digital toy black market in the interim. In our view, that will be up to the toymakers and their willingness to disrupt their current model.

Has Levin truly liberated construction toys from working only with their own kind? Will this type of innovation improve or hurt sales and prices of popular toy brands?

See the full poster of toy compatibility at Slideshare.

The video below shows how the Free Universal Construction Kit works. Notice how the voiceover makes it feel like a proper 1980s advertisement.


Read the full story about Levin’s project at Forbes.