AltUse Find - About Lego

Lego (trademarked in capitals as LEGO) is a line of construction toys manufactured by the Lego Group, a privately held company based in Billund, Denmark. The company's flagship product, Lego consists of colorful interlocking plastic bricks and an accompanying array of gears, minifigures and various other parts. Lego bricks can be assembled and connected in many ways, to construct such objects as vehicles, buildings, and even working robots. Anything constructed can then be taken apart again, and the pieces used to make other objects. The toys were originally designed in the 1930s in Europe and have achieved an international appeal, with an extensive subculture that supports Lego movies, games, competitions, and four Lego-themed amusement parks. Read More

The Lego Group began in the workshop of Ole Kirk Christiansen, a carpenter from Billund, Denmark, who began making wooden toys in 1932. In 1934 his company came to be called Lego. It expanded to producing plastic toys in 1940. In 1949 Lego began producing the now famous interlocking bricks, calling them "Automatic Binding Bricks". These bricks were based largely on the design of Kiddicraft Self-Locking Bricks, which were released in the United Kingdom in 1947. Lego modified the design of the Kiddicraft brick after examining a sample given to it by the British supplier of an injection-moulding machine that the company had purchased. The bricks, manufactured from cellulose acetate, were a development of traditional stackable wooden blocks that locked together by means of several round studs on top and a hollow rectangular bottom. The blocks snapped together, but not so tightly that they required extraordinary effort to be separated.
The company name Lego was coined by Christiansen from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means "play well". The name could also be interpreted as "I put together" and "I assemble" in Latin, though this would be a somewhat forced application of the general sense "I collect; I gather; I learn"; the word is most used in the derived sense "I read".
The Lego Group's motto is kun det bedste er godt nok which means 'only the best is good enough'. This motto was created by Ole Kirk to encourage his employees never to skimp on quality, a value he believed in strongly. The motto is still used within the company today.
The use of plastic for toy manufacture was not highly regarded by retailers and consumers of the time. Many of the Lego Group's shipments were returned after poor sales; it was thought that plastic toys could never replace wooden ones.
By 1954 Christiansen's son Godtfred Kirk Christiansen had become the junior managing director of the Lego Group. It was his conversation with an overseas buyer that struck the idea of a toy system. Godtfred saw the immense potential in Lego bricks to become a system for creative play but the bricks still had some problems from a technical standpoint: their locking ability was limited and they were not very versatile. In 1958 the modern brick design was developed but it took another five years to find the right material for it. The modern Lego brick was patented on January 28, 1958; bricks from that year are still compatible with current bricks.

Lego pieces of all varieties are a part of a universal system. Despite variation in the design and purpose of individual pieces over the years, each remains compatible in some way with existing pieces. Lego bricks from 1958 still interlock with those made in 2010, and Lego sets for young children are compatible with those made for teenagers.
Bricks, beams, axles, gears, mini figures, and all other parts in the Lego system are manufactured to an exacting degree of precision. When snapped together, pieces must have just the right amount of strength and flexibility mixed together to stick together. They must stay together until pulled apart. They cannot be too easy to pull apart, or the resulting constructions would be unstable; they also cannot be too difficult to pull apart, since the disassembly of one creation in order to build another is part of the Lego appeal. In order for pieces to have just the right "clutch power", Lego elements are manufactured within a tolerance of 2 µm.[1]
Primary concept and development work takes place at the Billund headquarters, where the company employs approximately 120 designers. The company also has smaller design offices in the UK, Spain, Germany, and Japan, which are tasked with developing products aimed specifically at these markets. The average development period for a new product is around twelve months, in three stages. The first stage is to identify market trends and developments, including contact by the designers directly with the market; some are stationed in toy shops close to holiday periods, while others interview children. The second stage is the design and development of the product based upon the results of the first stage. As of September 2008 the design teams use 3D modeling software such as Rhinoceros 3D to generate CAD drawings from initial design sketches. The designs are then prototyped using an in-housestereolithography machine. These are presented to the entire project team for comment and for testing by parents and children during the "validation" process. Designs may then be altered in accordance with the results from the focus groups. Virtual models of completed Lego products are built concurrently with the writing of the user instructions. Completed CAD models are also used in the wider organization, such as for marketing and packaging. Also the naming of the bricks such as 2x3 or 4x4 was made by intelligent children who tried describing the materials they used to create such a "invention".

Since 1963, Lego pieces have been manufactured from a strong, resilient plastic known as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).[1] As of September 2008, the engineers use the NX CAD/CAM/CAE PLM software suite to model the elements. The software allows the parts to be optimized by way of mold flow and stress analysis. Prototype molds are sometimes built before the design is committed to mass production. The ABS plastic is heated to 232 °C (450 °F) until at a dough-like consistency. It is then injected into the molds at pressures between 25 and 150 tons, and takes approximately 15 seconds to cool. The molds are permitted a tolerance of up to two thousandths of a millimeter (2×10−6 m), to ensure the bricks remain connected.[2] Human inspectors check the output of the molds, to eliminate significant variations in color or thickness. Worn-out molds are encased in the foundations of buildings to prevent them from falling into competitors' hands.[citation needed]According to the Lego Group, about eighteen bricks out of every million fail to meet the standard required.[1] Lego factories recycle all but about 1 percent of their plastic waste from the manufacturing process every year. If the plastic can't be re-used in Lego bricks, it's processed and sold to industries that can make use of it.[3][4]
Manufacturing of Lego bricks occurs at a number of locations around the world. Molding is done at one of two plants in Denmark and Czech Republic. Brick decorations and packaging is done at plants in Denmark, the United StatesMexico and theCzech Republic. The Lego company estimates that in the course of five decades it has sold some 400 billion Lego blocks.[5] Annual production of Lego bricks averages approximately 20 billion (2×1010) per year, or about 600 pieces per second: if all the Lego bricks ever produced were to be divided equally among a world population of six billion, each person would have 62 Lego bricks.[1]
In 2007, Lego Group announced a restructuring of the current production setup including the outsourcing of some of the production work to Flextronics, a Singaporean electronics company.[6] Lego Group plans to close the production facility in Enfield, Connecticut and outsource this work to the Flextronics factory in Mexico.[6][7] Flextronics will also oversee the factory in Kladno, Czech Republic. The Czech facilities would also be expanded due to the planned closing of the Swiss factory in Baar, which mostly manufactured TECHNIC parts.[7] On February 19, 2008, Lego announced that the Lego Group would instead take over operations of the Kladno factory from March 1, 2008.[8] On July 1, 2008, Lego announced their intent to take over plants in Mexico and Hungary and "phase out the existing outsourcing agreement with Flextronics during 2009.

Since it began producing plastic bricks, the Lego Group has released thousands of sets themed around a variety of topics, like the new "Atlantis". Other Examples include town and cityspacerobotspirates, Lego Trains, RacersVikingscastlesBionicledinosaurs, holiday locations, scuba diving and undersea exploration, the wild west, the Arctic, airports and miners.
New elements are often released along with new sets. There are also Lego sets designed to appeal to young girls such as the Belville and Clikits lines which consists of small interlocking parts that are meant to encourage creativity and arts and crafts, much like regular Lego bricks. Belville and Clikit pieces can interlock with regular Lego bricks as decorative elements.
Also the new creation of DesignByMe 3.0, which replaces the Lego Factory name gives people the chance to customize and build their own Lego set, any shape or size. Users can even customize the box that the set comes in.
The one continuity not really touched on by Lego is that of military toys. While there are sets which can be seen to have a military theme, such as Star Wars or the German and Russian soldiers in the Indiana Jones sets, there are no directly military-themed sets in any line. This is following Ole Kirk Christiansen's policy of not wanting to make war seem like child's play.
The Lego range has expanded to encompass accessory motors, gears, lights, sensors, and cameras designed to be used with Lego components. Motors, battery packs, lights and switches are sold under the name Power Functions. The Technics line utilizes newer types of interlocking connections that are still compatible with the older brick type connections. The Technics line can often be motorized with Power Functions.
Bionicle is a line of toys by the Lego Group that is marketed towards those in the 7–16 year-old age range. The line was launched in January 2001 in Europe and June/July 2001 in the United States. The Bionicle idea originated from the earlier toy lines Slizers (also known as Throwbots) and Roboriders. Both of these lines had similar throwing disks and characters based on classical elements. The sets in the Bionicle line have increased in size and flexibility through the years.
The Lego group's Duplo product, introduced in 1969, is a range of simple blocks which measure twice the width, height and depth of standard Lego blocks, and are aimed at younger children.
One of the largest Lego sets ever commercially produced is a minifig-scaled edition of the Star Wars Millennium Falcon. Designed by Jens Kronvold Fredericksen, it was released in 2007 and has 5,195 pieces.[10] It was surpassed by a 5,922-piece model of the Taj Mahal.
Lego Official website.