Matt Denton, the man behind the YouTube show, Mantis Hacks, has made a go-kart out of giant, 3D-printed LEGO blocks.
Inspired by James Bruton's work with large 3D-printed LEGO bricks, Denton wanted to make something a little bigger, something that his 8-year-old nephew could even sit in, or drive. He set his sights on vintage LEGO Technic set 1972-1, a 98-piece vintage LEGO set from 1985.
Unfortunately, to make a go-kart at such a scale would take too long, chew up too much material, and realistically, it wouldn't fit on his Lulzbot Taz 5 3D printer. So, he took the biggest piece in the kit, which was a 2x8 blue plate, and scaled it up to fit his printer. That's how he arrived at a go-kart that was five-times the size of the original, but still a tight fit for an 8-year-old kid.
The go-kart was almost entirely printed in ABS, and even maintained its working steering wheel. The tires were printed in NinjaFlex filament, which gave the parts a little more flexibility. He did have some challenges throughout the process, most notably some part warping and peeling, and all of the parts needed a little post processing.
Overall, it took Denton about 168 hours of print time. The NinjaFlex tires alone took 7 hours each, and the total time doesn't take into account the failed parts. If you considered the part failures, the process likely took an additional three days of print time.
According to Denton, the original kit only weighed 80 grams when assembled. His go-kart came in at 11.24 pounds, which isn’t a true 5x weight increase, but most of the parts were not printed as solid pieces.
In materials alone, he says that he only spent, at most, $129 dollars in filament, which is about $20 less than trying to find the thirty-year-old set new on the second-hand market.
Denton credits LEGOs for getting him interested in engineering. Who knows? Maybe his 3D-printed go-kart will do the same for someone else.