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Free Universal Construction Kit

Connect Legos, Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs and more with downloadable 3D adapters

by Graham Hiemstra in Design on 20 March 2012

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There exist few limits to a child's potential for creativity, and the blocks that accumulate on the playroom floor may seem equally boundless as kids are left to explore. Breaking down the boundaries between various branded construction sets like K'Nex, Legos and Lincoln Logs, two prominent technology-focused research and development labs—Free Art & Technology (F.A.T.) and Synaptic Lab—teamed up to create the Free Universal Construction Kit, a set of 3D adapter bricks that offers complete inter-operability between up to 10 children's construction toys. With nearly 80 models available for free download, the kit can be printed one at a time using open-hardware desktop 3D printers like Makerbot.

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The Free Universal Construction Kit takes the "best of all worlds" approach to designing each 3D model, choosing construction sets for their level of market penetration and diversity of features. Each individual piece in the kit can be combined with other traditional pieces to create a combination of kinetic movements and radical geometric designs or, as F.A.T. Lab describes it, "a meta mashup system".

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The various configurations within the innovative kit open a whole new world of building possibilities, encouraging children to create across platforms and brands. By making the kit entirely downloadable, inspired adults are encouraged to share designs and reproduce models of their own through personal 3D printers.

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The Free Universal Construction Kit also includes a single, baseball-sized Universal Adaptor that offers connectivity between each of the 10 supported children's construction systems. The kit can be downloaded in its entirety from the F.A.T. Lab site and through Thingiverse.com.

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