The brick that built an empire

Did you know that 33 000 bricks are manufactured every minute at LEGO® factories? That might seem a lot, but it’s just enough to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for this sought-after toy. The LEGO® brick’s simple design makes it versatile and so precise that it remains unrivaled over the almost 60 years it has been in production.

The two basic components that make a LEGO® piece unique are its studs on the top and the tubes within. The studs are a little bigger than the space between the tubes and the walls, so that when two pieces are pressed together, friction works to keep them together.

“Our products have undergone extensive development over the years – but the foundation remains the traditional LEGO® brick.

The brick in its present form was launched in 1958. The interlocking principle with its tubes makes it unique and offers unlimited building possibilities. It’s just a matter of getting the imagination going – and letting a wealth of creative ideas emerge through play.” – The LEGO® Group

This smart design means that you can build anything from a basic LEGO model airplane to a giant LEGO® sculpture, or in James May’s case, even a full-size LEGO® house in the country.

LEGO® parts are made from a durable plastic called acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and are created mechanically, via robots which inject molten plastic into moulds.

 

The ABS comes in a granule form and is melted down at 232 degrees Celsius before being injected into the moulds. The moulds are extremely accurate, which is how LEGO® bricks are so uniform. The mould precision tolerance is as little as 0.002 millimeters, according to How Stuff Works.

Once injected into the mould, the ABS is compressed at a pressure of between 25 and 150 tons. It takes just 7 seconds for the LEGO® piece to cool sufficiently to fall out onto a conveyor belt and into a bin to be sorted.

When it comes to quality assurance, LEGO® has a thorough process. Drop, torque, tension, compression, bite and impact tests are mechanised all to ensure that pieces are safe and sturdy.

“Technicians use a measuring beaker to determine whether pieces could cause a choking hazard for small children. For every million LEGO® elements, about 18, or 0.00002 percent, fail to pass the tests.” – How Stuff Works

Perhaps that’s why a LEGO® piece is almost indestructible – and why it hurts so darn much to step on one! In fact, Software developer and LEGO® fan Phillipe Cantin conducted an experiment to find out just how much force you’d need to exert on a two-by-two brick before it gave out. It turns out you’d need the equivalent of 950 pounds of pressure for it to give way.

So, not only is the LEGO® brick built for versatility, it’s also built to last, making it one of the most outstanding toys out there.

 

Visit the Kiddiwinks online shop or find the nearest Cape Town store near you to find the LEGO® sets you love!

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