There have long been stories and news in the past concerning how LEGO bricks have been utilized in applications that went far beyond their original function as toys. Both engineers and scientists have occasionally used LEGOs in their work, often due to the precision and consistency of their component parts.
It’s not really surprising to hear laboratories like MIT reporting on some of their experimental setups where they used LEGO. This latest endeavor from scientists of the institute had them use those awesome plastic bricks to construct a modular microfluid system with a pump and sorter. But that’s not all.
As the project head, MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering graduate student Crystal Owens, puts it, their microfluid system experiment can be quickly replicated by scientists around the world from scratch, with a supply of LEGO bricks. “You could then build a microfluidic system similarly to how you would build a LEGO castle — brick by brick,” she says.
Why LEGO Bricks for building scientific setups? It can be credited to the efforts made by the manufacturer to make sure that each unique brick and element is precisely identical to copies of itself. That means they’re guaranteed to connect seamlessly no matter where those bricks are found, as long as they’re of the same shape and dimensions.
True, a little modification was done in some of the component bricks to allow the microfluid process, but the fact remains that the precision build of LEGO bricks has made them ideal for scientific construction.
MIT associate professor Anastasios John Hart is used to seeing microfluidic devices as being time-consuming and eating up a lot of resources to put together. Therefore, he’s very impressed by the use of LEGO as alternative building material. That’s one more feather in the cap for LEGO in technical usage.