See how this crafty engineer solved one of our most dangerous problems: LEGO blocks on the floor!
It only takes one incident, and you’ll never forget it. It’s late at night. You’re creeping quietly through the house, and then it strikes. That searing pain that hits you out of nowhere. Did you step on a nail? Broken glass? One of those spike-strips from a parking garage? No. It’s a little red LEGO. Those little Danish building blocks are the bane of tender feet everywhere.
LEGO blocks are one of the world’s most universal toys. Kids start young with DUPLO blocks, and around the age of 3-4 graduate to standard LEGO blocks. The difference? DUPLO blocks are larger scale, with rounded edges and brightly colored faces so they’re large enough to be seen by pedestrians. Conversely, standard LEGO blocks come in a wide variety of muted colors, including “clear” to blend in more with your carpeting. Their edges are similar to a deftly sharpened hockey skate, yet they are small enough to nestle deep into the tightest berber rug. The LEGO will then wait patiently for hours or days to ensnare an unsuspecting adult victim…
Hopefully, thanks to the innovative and lifesaving work done by Matty Benedetto at “Unnecessary Inventions,” those painful days are behind us.
He saw the same problem as many of us:
- The floor is covered in these dangerous little blocks
- The LEGO blocks are way too expensive to vacuum up into the trash
- If the blocks were sorted correctly, the kids would use and enjoy them even more!
So, he invented the “LEGO vacuum that sorts your bricks!”
Now, to be perfectly clear – there have been many solutions to sort LEGO bricks. They’re similar in design to a screen aggregate sorter or gravel sorter. These machines have stacks of perforated layers beginning with the largest at the top and the smallest at the bottom. Each layer removes another grade of stone, all the way down to pebbles or sand-size at the bottom. Automatic change sorting machines work the same way. LEGO sorters have been designed like this as well. A series of drawers with increasingly smaller holes in each layer downward. The user fills the top drawer and shakes the whole box, sorting the LEGO blocks as they fall. Brilliant.
Matty takes the LEGO Sorting Machine a whole step further.
He began with an off-the-shelf shop vacuum and added the sorting mechanism as an attachment. This is pretty brilliant because he can simply remove it, and it’s still a perfectly usable shop vac. He built the sorting mechanism using clear cylinders and a 3D printer. 3D printers are today’s “easy way” of creating rapid prototypes, as long as you have some CAD experience and access to a 3D printer. He could have made the sorting mechanism just as easily with hole saws, but it would not look as cool.
The machine works perfectly as advertised. It picks up the blocks and automatically sorts them into their proper bins. Matty may have long-term design issues with the sorter hanging off the front of the vacuum. It looks like it may fall off or twist if the hose is pulled. As a proof-of-concept, it’s a slam dunk. Matty, take my money and send me one!
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