Stress Testing Lego

Arduino Science Technology
Stress Testing Lego

Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 4.31.24 PM

How many times can you assemble two Lego bricks together before they wear out? Phillipe Cantin decided to find out.

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The automated testing process lasted ten days, and the bricks lasted 37,112 repeated assemblies and disassemblies before they failed.

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Impressive stuff. Phillipe now intends to build a faster machine to test different types of Lego bricks. (via The Arduino Blog)

22 thoughts on “Stress Testing Lego

  1. Tom says:

    theres one data point, keep going…

    1. Phillipe Cantin says:

      Working on it

  2. Bart says:

    this is a wear test not a stress test…

    1. pcantin says:

      You’re right. It sounded better and I did not think I would be reviewed by 50,000 people… I’m now exposed and will go hide in the woods :). Seriously, I’ll call the next test with a more appropriate name.

  3. robtsou says:

    Do those Legos fit with non-worn Legos? Meaning, those two were both worn so the tolerances of those two are too loose to work but are they still within the limits of working with non-worn out Legos?

    1. Phillipe Cantin says:

      In the end, both pieces failed at 50%. The studs of the bottom brick and the inside walls of the top brick are visibly worn. Both bricks can still hold on (not strongly) to normal bricks but, when put together, they can’t hold. In a way, you could say that they are still in working conditions as long as they don’t meet again :)

  4. Jerry Carter says:

    That’s cool. I recently saw a dream job (for me) advertised where it was basically described as: build machines to wear out new product designs and measure how they fail. It’s a great problem solving challenge to cook something like this up. It should be (if it’s not) a required course for engineering students.

  5. Mark Perman says:

    great idea, however, you’re going to get an over estimate on cycles to failure. Because in reality you never line up the holes before you put lego together, the primary wear mechanism is shearing across the two mating faces of the lego pieces as you push them together, which would lead to rounding of the edges. How you’d develop a mechanism which would replicate random shearing directions before aligning the holes and applying the final downward force would be a challenge and a half!

    1. Jerry Carter says:

      Ovular cam inside a planetary gear assembly might do. :-)

  6. Robin Wiesrecker says:

    Wear testing a Lego brick by continuous carrying in my front left pocket for the last 2 years:

    1. Robin Wiesrecker says:

      The plastic on my VW car keys isn´t nearly as worn or dirty.

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Alasdair Allan is a scientist, author, hacker and tinkerer, who is spending a lot of his time thinking about the Internet of Things. In the past he has mesh networked the Moscone Center, caused a U.S. Senate hearing, and contributed to the detection of what was—at the time—the most distant object yet discovered.

View more articles by Alasdair Allan


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