May the Legos Be With You

If most of you out there reading this are anything like me, I grew up playing with the coolest toys… Legos!  My brother and I would dump our giant plastic tote and build houses, cars, spaceships, really anything that we could think of.  So when I learned about our interns’ Lego project, a task to help them become proficient in SOLIDWORKS, I quickly asked if I could join in.  I mean, who honestly wouldn’t want to play with Legos at work!

The purpose of the project is to model each individual Lego piece, and then build the assembly in SOLIDWORKS.  The project started with getting my Lego kit.  I was lucky enough to get an 87-piece Star Wars Resistance X-Wing Fighter.

I quickly dove into modeling the basic one by two Lego blocks, using calipers to get their dimensions.  I soon realized that this seemingly simple project was quickly getting pretty complicated.  I figured configurations would be the best approach for the different “standard” Lego parts.  I was able to make small changes, like the length of the part, and choose which of the Lego parts that change affected, by selecting specific configurations for individual features in the PropertyManager (left).   For example, by right-clicking on the claw feature and selecting Configure Feature, I could unsuppress or suppress the claws for each configuration (right).  With them suppressed, it gave me my basic 1X2 block, and also allowed me to quickly model 7 similar pieces.

One thing I really enjoyed about this project was that it was what I made of it, meaning I could add as much detail into the parts as I wanted.  It wasn’t necessary for me to add the Lego logo, however, in doing so, I got to practice using a Sketch Picture(Tools>Sketch Tools>Sketch Picture) and tracing splines to extrude the logo.

Many of the parts tested me on determining the most efficient design intent.  Below are two examples of how I made some of the parts for my X-Wing.

I created the cowl of the X-Wing by first sketching on planar surfaces for the profiles of the back, bottom, sides, and angled front.  I then created 3D sketches between the profiles to create a Filled Surface feature of the curved surfaces at the top.  Once I had a fully enclosed surface, I used Knit Surface and made sure Create Solid was selected.  I then made the final finishing touches by shelling the part and adding the Extrude Cuts on the front and back.

The projectile part ended up being very simple to create.  I started by creating a sketch that contained most of the geometry, and then used the Revolve command.  After that, the only thing left was to add the Extrude Cut in the middle of the part.

After I finished modeling the parts, I got to assemble everything.  The most useful command I found while creating the assembly was Interference Detection on the Evaluate tab.  This feature helped me determine where the parts overlapped due to any mistakes I had made in measuring/modeling.  I then went back and modified the parts to fix the interferences.

With my assembly complete, I decided to add appearances and materials to the parts, and used the Render Tools tab to produce a quality picture from PhotoView 360.  Not too bad when you compare it to the real thing!  I was even able to use Display States to change the colors to make Poe Dameron’s X-Wing.

As I said before, we were free to put as much detail into the project as we wanted.  Casey Colligan, a fellow SOLIDWORKS Support Engineer here at CADimensions, was given a race car Lego set for his project.  Casey used his completed Lego model to hone his SOLIDWORKS Visualize skills and produce some photorealistic renderings.

I highly suggest a project like this to anyone who wants to brush up on their SOLIDWORKS skills.  You’ll quickly realize the areas that you need to practice to become a better user.  Plus, you’ll have tons of fun doing it!

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