Taming the jungle – at high speed
“If you can imagine it, we can build it!” is the motto of the LEGO ® model-builder Bright Bricks. The company is relying on convergent modeling to create life-size elephants and other models more quickly and securely – building an entire zoo in record time.
When Kirsty House arrived at Bright Bricks for a summer internship two years ago, she knew she wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon. The company south of London builds life-size models using LEGO bricks, which fulfilled a childhood dream of the trained industrial designer: “I always wanted to be a toy designer. My parents own a toy store, and I’ve loved LEGO ever since I can remember.”
Bright Bricks assembles the models itself by hand, one brick at a time. The whole team pitches in when figures are particularly large or deadlines are tight. But Kirsty generally works on designing individual figures: “We create a 3D model of the design the client has agreed on and transform it into a model composed of LEGO bricks.” The virtual model then serves as the basis for the figure made of LEGO bricks and steel. That’s because safety concerns mean that Bright Bricks must use an interior steel structure to stabilize all models taller than one meter.
Designing the steel structures used to take Kirsty several weeks. The old CAD software couldn’t visualize the interior of the 3D model, so she had to count the individual LEGO bricks in each design and then estimate how big the safety structure had to be. “You needed a magnifying glass, and it really gave you a headache,” Kirsty recalls, “and even after we’d figured out more or less what the structure needed to be, we had all sorts of incidents in the past. Often a corner wouldn’t fit, and we had to shave off some steel.”
The entire Bright Bricks team has been working for months on an exhibition for Marwell Zoo. Some 80 LEGO models – from a teeny-tiny spider to a life-sized elephant – will be displayed there from August to October 2017. During this major project, Kirsty used Siemens’ Solid Edge PLM software for the first time to design the steel structures required for the 3D models.
Bright Bricks is the first company to use the newly developed convergent modeling method in Solid Edge for production. It simplifies work with geometries composed of a combination of facets, planes, and solids. Time-consuming data conversion is no longer necessary. “In the past, it would have taken at least two weeks to figure the structure out for the 1.5-ton elephant,” says Kirsty, “and now it took less than two days! Convergent modeling makes it possible to directly transfer the files of our 3D models into Solid Edge and to use them there as a reference for the corresponding steel structures.
More than two million LEGO bricks were assembled for the exhibition at Marwell Zoo, says Kirsty, who – like everyone at Bright Bricks – looks forward to seeing the results of her work: “I love that we make amazing things that make kids really happy – and that everyone, even adults, is in awe of what we do.”
Picture credits: Bright Bricks
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