Evolving LEGO: Prototyping requirements for a customizable construction kit

DS 87-4 Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 17) Vol 4: Design Methods and Tools, Vancouver, Canada, 21-25.08.2017

Year: 2017
Editor: Anja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Author: Boa, Duncan; Mathias, David; Hicks, Ben
Series: ICED
Institution: University of Bristol, United Kingdom
Section: Design Methods and Tools
Page(s): 397-306
ISBN: 978-1-904670-92-6
ISSN: 2220-4342


The PhysiCAD project is a technical feasibility study into the creation of tangible interfaces for Computer Aided Design (CAD) using construction kits. Construction kits, such as LEGO, are a collection of pre-defined physical elements that can be combined using standardised interfaces to produce more complex artefacts. Construction kits like LEGO have a low skill threshold to start using and are highly reconfigurable. The aim of the PhysiCAD project is to merge the benefits of construction kits with CAD. This paper concentrates on one aspect of the PhysiCAD project, how construction kits can be changed to support the representation of physical concepts. To this end we propose the concept of an evolving construction kit with the capability to define and generate new element types within the system. In this paper five requirements for an evolving construction kit are identified along with technical solutions for implementing them. Examples of some of the technical solutions are included along with a discussion about how they could be used to generate new evolved construction kit elements.

Keywords: Construction kits, Early design phases, 3D printing, New product development


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