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13) Material, Technology and Measurements (Lego)

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This article is from the Lego FAQ, by Tom Pfeifer pfeifer@fokus.gmd.de with numerous contributions by others.

13) Material, Technology and Measurements (Lego)

The LEGO motto: Det bedste er ikke for godt. (Only the best is good
enough.) Actually a word-by-word translation would be, "The best is
not too good" - in which "not too good" parses nicely into the idiom
of a Jutlandish understatement, making the between-the-lines statement
be, "Actually, we'd prefer to deliver rather better than the best".
Henning Makholm (hem@math.ku.dk)

from Wiencek's The World of LEGO Toys, paraphrased by saint@saint.org
LEGO brick are made out of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene
styrene), it is heated to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232 C), then
injected into a mold which is kept at 85 degrees. The pressure
used to mold the bricks varies from 24 to 150 tons. The molds
are kept within one degree of the 85 degree specification. ABS
absorbs moisture, so the entire molding hall is kept at 50%
humidity. The allowable tolerance for a brick is two-hundredths
of a millimeter, or about eight ten-thousands of an inch.

My xwebster says: ABS: a tough rigid plastic used esp. for automobile
parts and building materials.

bullwnkl@mentor.cc.purdue.edu (Bullwinkle J. Moose / Mike Weldy) found
in Israel Shenker's article:

The ABS granules is dyed to LEGO's secret specifications in factories
in Holland and Germany. Molds for the pieces are made in a factory in
Germany and two factories in Switzerland. The margin of error in the
molds can only be 5 one-thousands of a millimeter -- less than the
thickness of a human hair! For security reasons, LEGO inters worn-out
molds in the concrete of its new buildings.

Franz-Michael S. Mellbin (fischer-mellbin@fischer-mellbin.com)

Legos real industrial force is the very fact that no other company can
provide the same quality plastic molding (at a competitive price) as
Lego can. This is why the molding process is such a heavily guarded
secret. It is make or break for their profit margin if anyone could
match them on this.

There are LEGO factories in Billund(3), Switzerland, Brazil, South
Korea, and the United States (in Enfield, Connecticut).

More Random Lego tests: Random pieces are selected and tested for
size, sharp points or edges, damage when dropped or compressed,
torsion, flammability, toxicity, colorfastness, and "clutch
power"(resistance to separation). Optimal clutch power comes after 8
to 10 couplings.

One last Lego test: Pneumatic-powered steel jaws mimic children's
jaws, treating the pieces to the ultimate test-- trial by biting!

Two 2X4 bricks can be joined 24 different ways. Six can be joined
102,981,500 different ways.

Geometry, provided by Jef Poskanzer (jef@netcom.com): Thanks to
various pointers, especially the MIT course notes, here is the metric
version. **All measurements in mm.**

|side:     __  __  __  __        top:    +----------------+
|        +----------------+              | ()  ()  ()  () |
|        |                |              |                |
|        |                |              | ()  ()  ()  () |
|        +----------------+              +----------------+
|spacing of knob centers:        8
|diameter of knobs:              5
|height of block:                9.6
|end:      __  __                bottom: +================+
|        +--------+                      #   --  --  --   #
|        |        |                      #  (  )(  )(  )  #
|        |        |                      #   --  --  --   #
|        +--------+                      +================+
|height of knobs:                1.7
|thickness of block walls:       1.5
|outer diameter of cylinders:    6.31
|thickness of cylinder walls:    0.657
(height of block) =
    (spacing of knob centers) * 6 / 5
(thickness of block walls) =
    ((spacing of knob centers) - (diameter of knobs)) / 2
(height of knobs) =
    (height of block) / 3 - (thickness of block walls)
(outer diameter of cylinders) =
    sqrt(2) * (spacing of knob centers) - (diameter of knobs)
(thickness of cylinder walls) =
    ((outer diameter of cylinders) - (diameter of knobs)) / 2


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