Almost every child growing up has at least one type of construction set, usually several different types. I remember having probably 20 different Lego sets, a Tinkertoy set, and a couple K’Nex sets. I would literally spend hours letting my imagination run wild, building anything from vehicles, to houses, to castles and more.
The great thing about these various construction sets are that they promote creative thinking among children, while also providing endless hours of entertainment. One thing that would always disappoint 7-year-old Brian (me) was the fact that no matter how hard I tried, I could never get all of my different construction sets to play nicely together. Sure the Lego sets all were compatible with the other Lego sets, and the Tinkertoys were all compatible with one another as well, but if I wanted to use Legos and Tinkertoys, or Tinkertoys and K’Nex together, I would always be disappointed.
Cry no more, all you children (maybe even some adults) out there. There is now a solution for all your incompatibility issues. Thanks to a project by F.A.T Lab and Sy-Lab, in which they have created numerous designs for what they call the Free Universal Construction Kit, it is now possible to interconnect 10 different types of construction sets.
The Free Universal Construction Kit is a matrix of about 80 different adapter bricks. The designs for each of these bricks are made available for free on Thingiverse in .STL file format. Once downloaded the bricks can be printed out on pretty much any FDM 3D printer. The kit includes adapter bricks so that any of the following 10 different construction sets can connect to one another: Lego, K’Nex, Krinkles, Tinkertoys, Zoob, Duplo, Fischertechnik, Gears! Gears! Gears!, Lincoln Logs, and Zome.
“Our kids are already doing it,” wrote F.A.T Labs on their blog. “And when we were growing up, ourselves, we did it too—or we tried to, anyway. Connecting our toys together. Because: what if we want to make a construction which is half-Tinkertoys, half-K’Nex? Why shouldn’t we be able to? We dreamed about this possibility years ago, when we were small, and we knew then, as we know now, that we’d need some adapters to help. The advent of low-cost 3D printing has made such adapters possible, and with it, a vast new set of combinatorial possibilities for children’s creative construction toys”
Not only will this downloadable kit provide many more hours of fun for your children, but it will also get them to utilize their critical thinking skills in a whole new way. Also, old sets which a child may outgrow, can now be reintroduced to them in a whole new light, allowing parents to get even more bang for their buck. For instance, many of the construction sets listed above are meant for very young children, however, if as a child grows, they are able to reincorporate those sets back into their playtime by using them in different ways, those toys will have a longer lifespan. Now if I could only be a kid again!
Have you downloaded this kit? How did the prints turn out? Let us know in the universal construction kit forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the promo video for the kit below.