Anyone with experience printing custom Lego bricks?

You must be a very loyal Tente lover not to just buy Legos :slight_smile:

Here’s a print I did on my Form1+ for a guy last year that you will like seeing.

How was oriented? The worst printed face seems to be in the first photo, at the right.

About Lego, I don’t bear it. :innocent: I could build any model with any number of pieces with my computer using LDraw, but instead I adapted some LDraw tools to play with my beloved Tente. :smile: The image I posted of the 3x2 brick is from LDView, a LDraw viewer. You can take a look to some of the creations we make with real and virtual pieces at the gallery of this facebook page. Take into account that Tente lasted 25 years, was discontinued 15 years ago and it lacks many of the specialized pieces and different colors available from Lego. Tente was distributed in the USA by Hasbro and by other companies in UK, France, Belgium, Malta, Greece, Germany, Israel and Japan.

@JoshK Did it actually lock with real Tente blocks? Also did you print this before or after manually leveling your bed to fix the alignment issues? Also if it did lock with real Tente blocks were all of the sides actually close enough to square when using it with actual blocks that you didn’t have uneven gaps and tight spots? Forgive the barrage of questions I just know the Form1’s I’ve gotten have been awful at making actually square objects due to abysmal alignment.

@Jose_Alfonso_Solera, Yea it was oriented so the right side of the first photo was down. The support side will always be bad, but it can be sanded smooth after you finish post-curing each part.
@RocusHalbasch, I have no idea if this block fits anything, the guy only asked me to print one. I doubt it would function because the resin is so brittle, but I didn’t own Lego or Tente to try it with either.
I don’t remember which of my Form1’s printed that either.

@RocusHalbasch Lego and Tente are incompatibles because of the different diameter of the studs, but you can put a Tente brick over a Lego (small stud in wide hole) and take advantage of the same width of the bricks to block its movement using other bricks at the sides. So I could use Lego bricks for the bulk and Tente for the top part, more or less.

Because of the brittleness of the resin it seems that only is good for figures not locked with others such as the airplanes. Now I should see the aspect that results from ABS+FDM on “ultra” and high resolution, and the effect of the acetone in the interlocking.

Unfortunately I think ABS+acetone is going to be a step in the wrong direction to for the insane tolerances it takes to make something so small fit as needed. I still think the only route that has a chance is the industrial printers I mentioned earlier along with molding. I don’t think the more tempting ways you mentioned will give you the tolerances you need. But’s it’s just my opinion. I have used all 3 methods.

FDM at really high resolution looks pretty good. In some ways better than the Form1 produces. You might not need the acetone at all.

Oops, I had to edit my post, I meant to say “I think ABS+acetone is going to be a step in the wrong direction”… Too much editing butchered it the first time around :frowning:

@Jose_Alfonso_Solera, Out of curiosity, what is your plan for your fresh Tente? Will they be played with many times, or built once and put on display forever?

Well, I prefer to play with the virtual pieces more than with the real ones from my childhood and in case of increasing my stock, the prices of second hand sets can be prohibitive. But there are other friends who prefer the real ones (or are bad PC users) and some pieces are more difficult to find and 3D printing is cheaper than buying a full set for only one or two of the pieces you are looking at. :open_mouth: Or they just want to improve their models with custom pieces like the CIWS and Harrier I showed before, because original artillery and airplane pieces are outdated when you want to build a real life ship. Those are more ornamental pieces and generally for displayed models, but others could be more functional and stressed (hinges, plates…). One custom serie we haven’t yet explored is making gears and adding servos to make models as Lego Technic. :sunglasses:

I attempted to print a Lego brick on my FDM machine to show you what it looks like. Unfortunately the extruder jammed, (which is weird as that doesn’t usually happen to my machine) The partial block did come out able to lock correctly on the bottom and with a great surface finish, however I will wait till I get a full one printed till I post a pic.

@RocusHalbasch I expect that the jamming was fortuitous and not because of the shape of the brick. If you don’t have time for a new print, pics from the failed one are OK for me. :wink:

There was actually no jam. It was that I switched to volumetric extrusion and my firmware was doing the math wrong causing horrible under extrusion. I fixed that and printed it. It came out well but I have to take pics of it, then I’ll post them.

Following are a few pics of my second attempt at the Lego. These are still far from the best one could expect as I have been massively messing with the configuration of this printer lately so it’s not currently at the peak of calibration. An inventory of the problems is roughly as follows:

It is still slightly under extruding, This causes some minor surface quality loss, especially on the top.

The z-offset is a little short so you can see some “elephant foot” and the part is slightly shorter than it should be but no more than 40 microns shorter.

Acceleration and speed are not adjusted for this resolution. This causes the areas around corners to be messier than they could be.

The part is dusty. Sorry it rode around in my pocket for a while.

Sorry for these problems but I’m just about to take the machine partially apart, and didn’t want to bother fine tuning when I’m just going to have to do it again, after I take it apart and put it back together. However I think even under these less than ideal circumstances the result should be sufficient to show you that the parts an FDM printer can produce are much better than you probably thought. The pictures I took where quick shots with my iPad, If you want more detail I can use my DSLR with a macro lens and focus stacking. The surface texture looks like if might feel rough or ridged but it does not, it fells more soft or silky. You can see the layers stack cleanly on top of each other with no striation or wobble. Individual layers are imperceptible. As for the limit to the layer height, I really have no idea how high my FDM could reasonably go 40 microns is just the highest I have tried it, since it handles it pretty well with minimal effort I am pretty sure it could go higher.

To compare to the Form1+ for the purpose of Legos. Most important for Legos is the dimensional accuracy of this machine is pretty much dead on, and all of the angles are correct. With my Form1+ I have issues with getting these anywhere near falling within reasonable tolerances. Also at 40 microns and 250 micron line width I have significantly cleaner details in X and Y than I get on my Form1+ including sharper edges on my Lego blocks, however everything does have that brushed steel texture as opposed to the smoother but far less defined surface finish of the Form1+. The materials available for the FDM machines include ABS which is what Legos are actually made of, so achieving similar properties is not hard, however the Form1+ resin is brittle and sensitive to UV.

All this aside I am not trying to say that FDM machines are better printers for all purposes, or that the Form1+ is a bad printer. I just believe firmly that the Form1+ is an awful machine to make Legos and a good FDM machine is a decent machine to make Legos.

@RocusHalbasch Sorry, but I don’t see any pic in your post.


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Oh yeah sorry for all of the fingers in the pics. I was trying to hold it at good angles to the light so you could really see the imperfections, and surface quality.

It’s impressive the quality of the print although the printer was below its best performance. :open_mouth: It’s comparable or better than the Detail material from Shapeways (another UV resin). I’m thinking that putting the “brushed” faces on the bed (after the printing) could smooth them, as happens with the bottom side that was on the bed during the printing. Or at least printing the brick with one of the side faces as the bottom side would be another solution to get the right finish. The worst part is the top face, :fearful: but it usually gets hidden by other bricks.

That print looks beautiful. What machine do you have?

It’s a MendelMax 3 with a couple minor upgrades over the kit. The main thing is a 250 micron nozzle for the E3D extruder.

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