Rapid Prototyping Using Legos


Utilizing a Denso 6-AOF robotic arm they have built a rapid prototyping machine that uses Lego as the building material. Right now pieces need to be placed on a template for the robot to find and pick up.

For Mechanics of Manipulations (16-741) at CMU in Spring 2009, Gurdayal Koonjul and Ned Fox (me) made a system for the rapid prototyping of Lego structures. Modelling the structure in MLCad (a free Lego CAD program), the save file is parsed in MATLAB and the output file is then sent to a DENSO 6-DOF arm. The arm picks pieces up from pre-determined locations and places them where they belong.

As this was only a semester-long project, there is lots of work still to be done, namely:

  • -Using webcam to find the correct pieces rather than pieces lying on a template.
  • -Being able to construct part even if the lines of data in the save file are not already in the correct order (ie top pieces first rather than bottom pieces first).
  • -Being able to place pieces that have been rotated about axes other than the Z axis.
  • -Other interference problems with end effector.
  • -Being able to parse another CAD file format (Solidworks, ProE, etc) and build that model using Legos.

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