The designers of the Free Art and Technology collective have come up with a set of nearly 80 free 3D models for adapter bricks to connect pieces from several popular construction toys, enabling anyone with a 3D printer to make their own adapter bricks to interconnect any pieces from Lego®, Duplo®, Fischertechnik®, Gears! Gears! Gears!®, K’Nex®, Krinkles®, Lincoln Logs®, Tinkertoys®, Zome®, and Zoob®. They’re calling it the Free Universal Construction Kit. F.*.C.K. yeah!
As for the legality of the designs, F.A.T. is giving away the models for free and chose toys which are no longer protected by active (20 year) patents. The Zome® and Zoob® patents are still active, so those plans will be released December 2016 and November 2022, respectively.
We assert that the home printing of the Free Universal Construction Kit constitutes protected fair use. Simon Bradshaw et al., writing in “The Intellectual Property Implications of Low-Cost 3D Printing”, conclude that the public is legally allowed to make 3D prints that mate with proprietary parts, especially in cases (the “Must Fit Exception”) where a piece’s shape “is determined by the need to connect to or fit into or around another product”: “Even where a registered design is copied via a 3D printer this would not be an infringement if it were done ‘privately and for purposes which are not commercial’. Both criteria must be met; it is insufficient that copying is not done for profit. Purely personal use of a 3D printer to make items will thus not infringe a registered design.” [ffff.at]
The 3-D printer models are downloadable for free here (link goes to .zip file), and we’ve got a video and pictures below. None of this answers the most important question though: will accidentally stepping on one of these parts bare-footed be even remotely as painful as stepping on a LEGO?
Full-sized version of this picture available as a .pdf here.
[Hat tip: MAKE]