AMS Spring 2023

BB-8 Builder Scales Up Classic Lego Go-Kart to Make a 3D Printed Version That’s Five Times Bigger

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[Image: Brickset]

While they weren’t my absolute favorite toy, I did enjoy playing and building things with LEGOs…there’s something very satisfying about hearing that ‘snap’ the plastic pieces make when you put them together. We often see 3D printing technology combined with LEGOs, from 3D printers built entirely out of LEGO bricks and 3D printed curved LEGOs to 3D printed replacement LEGO parts and other 3D printable LEGO parts.

Matt Denton, who has a YouTube channel called Mantis Hacks, co-created the terrifyingly huge Mantis walking robot, and is one of the original builders of BB-8, the roly-poly orange and white droid from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Denton is also a fan of LEGOs and recently created his own giant LEGO project.

Matt at the LulzBot booth at TCT Show 2017 [Photo: Sarah Goehrke]

He was inspired by the scaled-up LEGO built by designer and XRobots majordomo James Bruton, whose 3D printed projects we’ve admired before. Both Bruton and Denton visited with the LulzBot team at the recent TCT Show, as technology from the company is behind many of their creations and they enjoyed the opportunity to talk with visitors about what 3D printing can make possible.

Denton’s original plan was to create a 3D printed go-kart that his 8-year-old nephew would be able to fit in, but he realized that it would take far too long; in addition, he needed to make sure that whatever he built would be able to fit on the build plate of his Lulzbot TAZ 5 3D printer.

Whatever Denton made, it would have to be at least a little economical in terms of print time and plastic, and he found the perfect project to scale up in a classic 1985 model – the LEGO Technic Go-Kart set #1972, which has 98 pieces.

To determine how much larger his version would be, he found the largest piece in the kit, which is a blue plate, and kept sizing it up until it just barely fit diagonally on the 11″ x 11″ 3D printer bed. The 3D printed LEGO go-kart is five times the size of the original – so while his nephew can’t quite fit on it, a toddler probably could.

Denton spent seven days – a total of 168 hours – 3D printing each of the 98 parts, some of which, according to Hackaday, had to be printed in series of smaller pieces. He used a total of 5 kg of filament, using mostly 20% infill for the parts, and all of the parts were 3D printed, with no bridging or supports, using ABS material.

In his YouTube video, Denton said, “I like working with ABS because of its…it’s just great stuff to work with, when you can bond it again with acetone and what have you and glue it back together and repair it. It’s just my material of choice.”

He did acknowledge that ABS can cause issues with warping, and said that the corners of the longer, flat pieces had a tendency to curl up at the edges. The 3D printed LEGO Go-Kart weighs about 12 lbs, and cost him about $103-$128 to make. The car works just like a real LEGO kit would – it can be assembled, disassembled, and reassembled without any glue.

According to Popular Mechanics, “The result works like real Lego, with parts that fit together without adhesive. The pinion steering is functional, as are the Ninjaflex wheels.”

Matt and his nephew Ruben

The only components of the project that aren’t LEGO are threaded rods that go down the middle of the cross axles, and the Neoprene hosing. Denton attended Maker Faire Hannover in August, and got to show off his 3D printed LEGO project.

The most fun part of the whole project, at least in my opinion, was when Denton challenged Ruben, the nephew he wanted to build the go-kart for in the first place, to a LEGO building race. He gave Ruben the original Technic Go-Kart set, dumped all of his giant 3D printed LEGO parts on the table next to him, and the two went to work piecing together both the little go-kart and the big go-kart.

To see who won, take a look at the short video below!

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com, or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.

[Images via Mantis Hacks YouTube]

 

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