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I wonder if you could make a simple mechanism to split apart the easier parts...



I suspect that's a harder problem than anything I've done so far.


Does it make your finger hurt splitting the parts? Mine ache after about 10 minutes of playing with lego


You need a brick separator! At least two, if possible. http://www.bricksabillion.com/tools/the-brick-separator/


I have a whole bag of tricks for that.


Care to share? :)


Lego makes two 'removal' tools, those are handy, then, I have a very sharp naked 4" blade that will take care of the hardest cases, baseplates will flex the tiniest bit and that will usually give you enough space to flip the top part off. Finally, a regular plate pushed at a 45 degree angle into the space between two other plates will separate the two without damage to any of the parts if you do it 'just so'.

Adapt as needed :)


Perhaps subject them to a near vacuum state? Pressure differential of trapped air in pieces might pop them apart.


If you look at the lego patent: http://npopson.com/images/legowallpaper/LEGO_WP_1920x1200_WH...

There's clearly not any air-tight seal. Most of the nubs on the top of pieces only have 3 or 4 points of contact with the piece they're connected to.


From experience, Lego are nowhere near water-tight, say nothing about air-tight. The air between the pieces will leak out before you can build a high enough vacuum to pop them apart. I suspect this is by design: air-tight connections probably create enough of an internal vacuum that doesn't come apart with hand-force.


If the push-in joints were air-tight they would be harder to put together as you would be pressurizing the air in each connection. Then the internal pressure would be working against the friction fit to pop them apart again.


Really?

I made a mould out of Lego (to make Lego-shaped gummy candies) and with a thin coating of vaseline on the outside, it was indeed water-tight (and silicone-goop-tight too).


Vaseline would count as a liquid gasket, in this case. It's really going to completely change the conditions.


I think there were there were beads of water on the outside of the mould, but it was much closer to water-tight than I had imagined, even without the vaseline.

They're astonishingly well made for a children's toy.


They're astonishly well-made for anything. Making bricks that hold together firmly and come apart easily requires micrometer tolerances, and Lego is basically on the cutting edge of plastic manufacturing even today. That's why non-Lego brand bricks are always kinda crappy; no one else can make them as precise as Lego can.


This is being pedantic, but I imagine they probably could, but they don't because it's expensive. An upstart hitting the marketplace without the incredible brand of Lego, plus higher prices would be a monstrous risk.


There are one or two that come close but the precision and variance of Lego blocks is the stuff of myth that professional mold makers talk about on their lunch breaks. You have to really get close to the parts to see how incredible they really are, with the naked eye you won't see enough detail. The trick is repeat accuracy and that's where Lego is far better than their competition.

That said, they've been cutting quality, moving production to China, using cheaper formulation plastic. That's a bad move imnsho. The brand image is quality and people pay for that, if they ever seriously let that go it's going to be game over for them.


Obviously it's easy to say without knowing how frustrating poor quality parts would feel, but I'd take the quality reduction alongside a price reduction, I think. My 4yo loves sets like 31052 (3-in-1 camper), but the next step up in challenging, brand-neutral sets are around AU$400 which is hefty.

Of course, chances are they'll reduce their production costs but maintain the high prices.


> but the next step up in challenging, brand-neutral sets are around AU$400 which is hefty.

Do you have any specific set in mind?


I would like to challenge him with the creator expert set of modular buildings. 10246, 10255, etc. But 10255 is US$399 for example.

He already has 31052 and 31051 which I think are excellent 3-in-1 sets. Would love to see more like those. They are about AU$80-120 which is a workable birthday/xmas pricepoint.


> micrometer tolerances

That's really not that much (1-999 μm). Keep in mind that sub-1mm is micrometer, and 1mm is a huge distance. I'm sure that LEGO bricks have tolerances of single or low double digits of micrometers...


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lego#Manufacturing

The moulds are permitted a tolerance of up to two micrometres, to ensure the bricks remain connected.


But, air tight != water tight. And Vaseline can make a world of difference.


Wall shapes -- pushing them through rollers may exert enough force to start splitting them apart. Do this multiple times and they may fall apart.

For odd shapes -- clamping both ends then vibrating the grippers (just a little) could split bits.

It's an interesting problem. What percentage is still connected? May be better to pay a slightly higher price for bits are that not connected (distribute the job out to the sellers)




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