Culture jammers connect Lego clones with 3D printer files
"Reverse engineering as a civic activity"
By Simon Sharwood • In Bootnotes • At 02:40 GMT 10th April 2012
Sy-Lab and The Free Art and Technology (F.A.T.) Lab, a self-described “organization dedicated to enriching the public domain through the research and development of creative technologies and media”, have released a set of 3D printer files that will “enable complete interoperability between ten popular children’s construction toys.”
Dubbed the Free Universal Construction Kit (pictured below, but we’re not going to do the acronym because it is NSFW), the freely-downloadable .STL files make it possible to link Lego, Duplo, Fischertechnik,Gears! Gears! Gears!, K’Nex, Krinkles (Bristle Blocks), Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys, Zome, and Zoob toys into mashed-up messes of constructable kit.
F.A.T. Labs’ manifesto says the project “implements proprietary protocols in order to provide a public service unmet—or unmeetable—by corporate interests” and also demonstrates “a model of reverse engineering as a civic activity: a creative process in which anyone can develop the necessary pieces to bridge the limitations presented by mass-produced commercial artifacts.”
The organisation also laughs off concerns about breaches of patents and other intellectual property niceties.
"Some may express concern that the Free Universal Construction Kit infringes such corporate prerogatives as copyright, design right, trade dress, trademarks or patents of the supported toy systems," the organisation writes. "We encourage those eager to enforce these rights to please think of the children," and illustrates that point with a cute video of a frustrated child whose imagination could be liberated by the Kit.
The files can be downloaded from Thingiverse, ®