Digital Fa-BRICK-ation

Brickify is Rapid Prototyping with LEGO & 3D Printing


LEGO and 3D printers are BFF. It’s practically a law? Brickify is a unique and clever application for plastic bricks and rapid prototyping.

Brickify Makey
Brickify Makey

Here at ALL3DP we’re big fans of LEGO, as previous articles can attest. But Brickify is something totally different, a rather unique partnership between modelling toys and digital fabrication. Essentially, it helps Makers to further speed up the rapid prototyping phase of their projects.

Let’s call it rapid rapid prototyping, just for fun.

So how does it work? Developed by students at the Hasso-Plattner-Institut in Potsdam, the core concept is to save on the time it takes to 3D print an object by automagically substituting select portions of your 3D model with standard building blocks.

That means you need only to 3D print the truly bespoke parts of the model, and then slot them into a quickly assembled LEGO housing that approximates the rest of the model. Taken together, you have a prototype build that’s sturdy enough for evaluation and testing.

Brickify Google Cardboard

For example, if constructing a custom body for a head-mounted display like Google Cardboard, it’s critical to have the optical path correctly aligned. Using Brickify, a user can mark up the lens mounts for high resolution printing on a 3D printer. For the rest of the model, the software will generate instructions that show you how to create everything else from standard LEGO bricks.

The benefit of this lo-fi approach is that Makers can continually tweak and iterate on the design, where Brickify only has to re-print the key elements being modified. On average, the team claims that their system fabricates objects 2.44 times faster than traditional 3D printing, and in some instances required only 14 minutes of manual assembly.

Brickify Any STL File

Brickify software interface
Brickify software interface

Curious to test it out for yourself? The source files for Brickify can be downloaded from this GitHub repository, or you can tinker with it from within your browser.

Either way, the operation is relatively simple: choose an STL file and load it up. If you have the correct URL, you can also load files directly from Thingiverse.

After uploading, the model is processed and presented as a LEGO model. In the middle of the “brickification” you can see a transparent wire frame of the 3D model.

From here, you can begin the process of selecting which part can remain 3D printed and which can be converted into bricks. You can even convert the model entirely into LEGO bricks. The tool then automatically adjusts this part and calculates the missing STL file to download.

Brickify is a fantastic resource for Makers looking to save time on their rapid prototyping. Needless to say, it’s not officially endorsed by LEGO. But there’s no way the Danish giant could complain about such a brilliant application of one engineering tool to another.

Or could they…?

Image source:

Image sources: Hasso-Plattner Institut, Brickify