AMS Spring 2023

From Go-Kart to Forklift: More of Matt Denton’s Adventures in 3D Printed Legos

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Matt Denton shows off an old LEGO Technic kit of a forklift.

In the 1970s, LEGO started producing Technic kits, which were boxes of LEGOs with rods and other parts for the purpose of building more complex, functional projects than were possible with ordinary LEGOs. The kits came with build instructions so that kids (or adults) could create vehicles and other machines. LEGO Technic kits are still around today, and though the instructions now come in app form, the kits themselves still celebrate the challenge and satisfaction of building something complex by hand.

Matt Denton had LEGO Technic kits as a kid, and he’s never lost his love of building. Denton is responsible for the giant walking hexapod Mantis Robot, and he was also one of the original builders of adorable Star Wars droid BB-8. Denton’s current work, like the careers of so many engineers, designers, and architects, may have roots in his childhood love of LEGOs – they were, you might say, the first building blocks of his future career.

And there’s no better reason to pull out some old LEGO Technic kits than having a young nephew. Recently, Denton decided to recreate an old LEGO Technic go-kart, but to scale it up so that his eight-year-old nephew could sit in it by 3D printing the pieces. Ultimately, the 3D printed go-kart wasn’t quite big enough for an eight-year-old, but Denton and his nephew had so much fun making it that they decided to do the same thing with another kit – this time a forklift.

The building process.

“The reaction to my five times scale giant Lego Go-Kart build was so good I knew straight away I’d have to follow up with another Giant Lego project, not to mention the fun myself and my nephew had making the video!” Denton told 3DPrint.com.

“I had thought about making a larger version of the Go-Kart big enough for my nephew to sit in, and haven’t ruled that out for a future project, however, I decided that the Lego forklift kit (850) would be a challenging kit due to having more than twice the pieces, and it has a special place in my life as it was my first Lego technic kit and probably inspired my engineering passions at an early age. The forklift kit also happens to be the first Lego technic kit made (1977) so it just felt like it was meant to be!”

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

The forklift kit consisted of 216 pieces, all of which Denton scaled up and 3D printed on a LulzBot TAZ 6 and a TAZ 5, using a Flexystruder and a MOARstruder, a popular high-output tool head introduced early this year. The project took 500 hours of printing to make all of the pieces, after which Denton enlisted the help of his nephew to assemble them into a forklift.

The 3D printed go-kart was a really cool project to begin with, but the forklift is not only bigger, it’s more complex – and Denton and his nephew clearly had a great time making it.

If you’d like to 3D print your own giant LEGO forklift, the files for the parts will shortly be available on Thingiverse, where the go-kart is already posted.

The final product.

You can also take a look at Denton’s other videos here, and he has said that he will be releasing further details on how he 3D printed the forklift soon.

Watch the assembly process below:

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

 

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