There have been many arguments revolving around the whole point of 3D printing Lego pieces.
First of all, you need to understand that Lego is not a product name; it is a brand name. Lego produces interlocking toys although the Lego is trademarked, the interlocking toys are not chartered designs.
- Is It Legal to 3D Print Legos?
- Is 3D Printing Identical Lego Bricks Legal?
- Lego Shapes and Designs That Are Illegal to 3D Print
- Would the Lego Company Sue You for 3D Printing Copyrighted Lego Elements?
- Is It Illegal to 3D Print and Sell Lego Compatible Parts?
- Is It Cheaper to 3D Print Legos?
- Are 3D Printed Legos of Quality Like Original Lego Models?
- Are Lego Mini Figures Under Any Trademark?
- How Do I Start Printing Legos?
- The LEGO Build Plan
- Can I Sell a Brick From Lego Group?
Is It Legal to 3D Print Legos?
3D printing lego is illegal. Nonetheless, there are some conditions. The Lego is licensed, trademarked, and copyrighted as part of The Lego Group.
The company created Lego design. However, the interlocking toy bricks are not copyrighted, and you can print them as a separate entity other than “Lego”.
Furthermore, there has been a battle about producing stackable blocks of the same size and shapes as Lego blocks, making them compatible with lego products.
The company has lost most of the battles, and they only control a few of their designs which are protected.
Is 3D Printing Identical Lego Bricks Legal?
“Lego” is a registered trademark of The Lego Group, and you can only use it with legal permission from the group. So you cannot print legos.
Nevertheless, you can still 3D print interlocking stackable bricks similar to Lego bricks.
3D printing identical models are legal except for some shapes and designs copyrighted by The Lego Group. It is good to understand Lego’s legal terms, which command some of their plans.
Lego Shapes and Designs That Are Illegal to 3D Print
We’ve seen that some lego bricks are illegal to print. These parts are under Lego’s patent, and printing them may call for legal actions. Such designs include “Lego Figurines”, e.g. the Lego-Man.
Lego mini-figures are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced or sold by any other party other than the Lego group. In 2010, the company lost a court case against their Canadian competitor, Mega Bloks, when trademarking a red toy building brick.
Would the Lego Company Sue You for 3D Printing Copyrighted Lego Elements?
Many people get away with posting 3D-printed lego blocks on eBay and other sites like a genuine Lego, which is an unnecessary risk. However, it is not worth the little money you may get on this illegal post.
Alternatively, use something like “interlocking toy blocks” and advertise them as Lego compatible other than posting it as a lego brick.
Technically, Lego may flag your post through the site that you’re selling your 3D printed brick as an original lego piece.
The site will remove your post and warn you about using copyrighted names. Lego can also sue you for posting knockoff lego pieces.
Lego may sue you for losses incurred to the company because of your post, though you may end up in a small claims court and end without any fees.
If you’re selling large amounts, you may have a little more problems. In Texas, the maximum value is $20,000, so if you have anything below that, you may not see a trial.
Is It Illegal to 3D Print and Sell Lego Compatible Parts?
Many designs have come up which are very compatible with Legos. So is this legal or illegal? Well, it all depends on how you market them.
It is better to advertise them as 3D-printed toy bricks or blocks to avoid lawsuits. You can print and sell lego compatible models but not use the brand name as a marketing tool.
Is It Cheaper to 3D Print Legos?
3D printing might be a cheap option for printing Legos at the base level. Printing a 3D block costs around $0.04 to $0.08, and buying Legos in bulk may cost you $0.04 to $0.07 per piece.
However, this doesn’t include the time taken in printing lego parts. A good example, 100 printed parts may take up to 30 hours.
A tricky situation comes when you lose a piece or need custom parts that you need to use. This may prompt to print off a new lego part. 3D printing lego pieces are suitable for the essential parts when appropriately used. It may also be cheaper to print your versions of Legos.
Are 3D Printed Legos of Quality Like Original Lego Models?
3D printing legos don’t give you the accuracy like the original lego set. Actual legos are made of an opaque plastic of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS).
The ABS plastic is fabricated to produce smooth legos with a smooth surface. Furthermore, the actual models are manufactured with a lot of precision(10mm or better) using injection molding technology.
When it comes to 3D printing, you may spend a lot of time trying to smoothen the plastic surfaces. Also, FFF 3D printers cannot reach the level of accuracy as seen in the original parts.
Are Lego Mini Figures Under Any Trademark?
The Lego patent comes after the first Minifigure is released. However, it shows a shape and design that has evolved since the release.
LEGO celebrates the birth of the Minifigure in the release of the original “LEGO building figure,” a terrifyingly odd creature born in 1974.
How Do I Start Printing Legos?
There are five significant steps you need to print Lego. Once you have a 3D printer, you obtain a design. Designs are sourced from three main points, the internet, custom designs, and scanning.
Scanning is mainly used when trying to correct or customize one of the printed designs. The second step is to upload the design into software. This should be simple once you have completed the design phase.
- Confirm the printer settings
- Check that the settings match the filament, load your filament and save the G-code
- Check that every setting is correct before diving right into printing. You can now print the model.
To do this, ensure the print bed is preheated to the right level depending on the filament you’re using. Wait for the printing process to finish.
Once the printing is done, the printer should automatically stop. Don’t touch the model immediately because printing abs uses heat.
Let it cool down, and now you can take the model off the printer. Analyze the model for any flaws. If there are any defects, consider changing the settings. Often, the slightest changes can correct the designs.
The LEGO Build Plan
The Lego Build Plan, also LDD, is a plan that authorizes you to make a model using non-standard Lego bricks.
You are also allowed to enhance your model using Bricklipicator. To get the plan, you need to provide your email address. The company provides more information if need be through email.
Can I Sell a Brick From Lego Group?
Yes, companies are allowed to sell Lego products with conditions that don’t go against the company’s legal policy. For example, you can’t make Legos and lie that you have printed them.
You haven’t infringed any patent, but it falls under trademark infringement. You have interfered with Lego’s trademark through misrepresentation of the product. You can sell Lego-compatible products as long as you obey the patents.
Currently, Lego is facing issues related to knockoff products that violate licenses. In the US, it is illegal to sell them.
However, other countries are making them. You can’t buy them in the US, but legally, you can buy them from different countries and wait for importation.
It is not clear if you should import the products. Nonetheless, people still buy and have them delivered to their homes.
3D printing has brought a lot of creativity to the face of the earth. People come up with creative designs which make it simpler to produce some products.
In the world of Lego’s, you can print lego parts that you need within minutes.
A downside about 3D printed items is that you can’t create something as good as the original. 3D printing is good when you want to create prototypes.
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