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Free Universal Construction Kit connects LEGO to K'Nex to Tinkertoy and more

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March 27, 2012

The Free Universal Construction Kit can be produced from any 3D printer and used to connec...

The Free Universal Construction Kit can be produced from any 3D printer and used to connect pieces from 10 different construction toys

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If you ever had more than one type of toy for building things as a child (LEGO, Tinkertoys, Duplo, etc.), odds are you tried to mix the sets together at some point with creative, though disastrous, results. Apparently the folks at F.A.T. Lab and Sy-Lab had the same experience and have created the Free Universal Construction Kit to solve this childhood dilemma. By downloading free designs and using a 3D printer, you could have your very own pieces to connect ten different brands of building toys to each other and construct even more elaborate contraptions and structures.

The Free Universal Construction Kit (you can work out the acronym yourself) is being presented by F.A.T. Lab and Sy-Lab as a downloadable set of designs that can be fed into any 3D printer (Thing-o-Matic, The Cube, etc.) to create a set of almost 80 adapter pieces. These can then be used to link together pieces from LEGO, Duplo, Fischertechnik, Gears! Gears! Gears!, K’Nex, Krinkles (a.k.a. Bristle Blocks), Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys, Zome, and Zoob. Most of the pieces connect one set to another, though the Kit also includes a larger Universal Adapter Brick that can connect all ten sets at once.

Naturally, being able to combine these sets of toys opens up a wide range of new structures to build, and the designers are hoping these new pieces will help foster more creativity in children. The adapters also mean that toy sets aimed at younger children won't necessarily become obsolete as soon at the children grow older and move on to more complex sets.

The Kit can link together pieces from LEGO, Duplo, Fischertechnik, Gears! Gears! Gears!, K...

To build the Kit, F.A.T. Lab and Sy-Lab had to first reverse engineer the exact dimensions of each toy connector to ensure each adapter piece would fit correctly. The designers were able to get these measurements using an optical comparator that was accurate to less than one ten-thousandth of an inch (2.54 microns). While the designs are almost exact, the makers of the Free Universal Construction Kit caution that some 3D printers might not be able to print at that precision unless they are finely tuned.

An optical comparator measuring a Bristle Block

The makers of these adapters have made it clear that they will not be selling the actual parts themselves, just the designs to print them. There's a couple reasons for doing this: for one, the designers have stated they want the construction kit to be freely available for anyone to make themselves. For another, offering the designs for free is less likely to infringe on copyrights from the original toy companies.

No word on whether the designs will be expanded to include other popular children's toys (Mega Bloks and wooden toy train tracks come to mind). For now though, the Free Universal Translation Kit is available for download at Thingiverse and should be available through The Pirate Bay's "Physibles" category soon.

The Adapterz LLC video below shows us just how this kit can be be put to use.

Source: Thingiverse via Free Art and Technology

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things.   All articles by Jonathan Fincher
9 Comments

This is the next singularity. A total revision of industry, commerce and innovation. 3D printers are exactly what this world needs. Picture a world where mega corporations cant opress cos they dont exist where the best source of new products is your own brain. Designs should be free always!

MasterG
27th March, 2012 @ 03:14 am PDT

This is brilliant! I can't tell you how many times as a kid I wanted some of these pieces to combine projects. Truly awesome. With 2 kids today and several differnt building block types I still need this today. Glad somebody didn't just wish they had it but actually decided to make it.

Matt Fletcher
27th March, 2012 @ 07:06 am PDT

If you thought inkjet printer ink was expensive, wait until you price out 3D printer materials.

This stuff will make Lego bricks seem cheap.

Jon A.
27th March, 2012 @ 08:03 am PDT

To think I solved the compatibility problems with modeling clay.

Slowburn
27th March, 2012 @ 02:17 pm PDT

Now instead of telling your kids to play with their toys you can tell them to Free Universal Construction Kit with their toys.

Gregg Eshelman
27th March, 2012 @ 05:54 pm PDT

Mmmmmmm the holy grail of "makin' stuff".

Mechano + Leggo + a whole heap of other things....

Mr Stiffy
27th March, 2012 @ 11:25 pm PDT

Duplo is LEGO only for children so young they tend to put things in their mouths. And Duplo of course interfaces with the "grown up" LEGO.

BZD
28th March, 2012 @ 12:37 am PDT

HI

this is a GREAT new concept. Delighted to see this innovation so that players of all ages can build and use their imagination and mix up their pieces from different sets. Cant wait to play with this innovation. Brilliant and right on time. thanks!!! Let's Play!

Stevanne Auerbach
5th April, 2012 @ 08:04 am PDT

I am not seeing any Meccano connections. I hope this is indeed included.

Riaanh
22nd November, 2012 @ 03:25 am PST
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