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A Redditors Dilemma

How many Legos, stacked on top of the other, would it take to destroy the bottom brick?
Shortbushero Science_man_29

Experimental Setup

15 2x4 yellow Legos were bought from bricklink.com and weighed on an analytical balance and their dimensions measured with calipers without any modification. Three of the Legos were chosen at random and their nubs were removed via a metal file. Compression tests were performed on an Instron 5567 with a 50kN test cell. Acoustic emission tests measured with a Physical Acoustics PCI 2 sensor, with the sensor attached to the front side of the top compression platen.

Experimental Data Dimensions and Mass

Dimensions Length: 31.79 mm Width: 15.77 mm Height (with nubs): 11.41 mm Height (w/o nubs): 9.54 mm Tolerance: 0.01 mm

Mass Highest: 2.2715 g Lowest: 2.2492 g Range: 0.0223 g

Average : 2.2576 g St. Dev : 0.0077 g

Experimental Results - Compression


Compressive Test - 0.1 mm/min
18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 0

Stress (MPa)

E2
Plastic deformation region

E1 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2 Strain (mm/mm) 0.25 0.3 0.35

E1 = 192.997 MPa E2 = 245.973 MPa

y = 15.841 MPa Max. Load = 7942 N

Experimental Results - Compression


Compressive Test - 1.5 mm/min
20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 Strain (mm/mm) 0.4 0.5

Stress (MPa)

E1 = 280.34 MPa E2 = 400.69 MPa

y = 18.363 MPa Max. Load = 9206 N

Experimental Results - Compression


Compressive Test - 2 mm/min
20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 Strain (mm/mm) 0.5 0.6

Stress (MPa)

E1 = 279.75 MPa E2 = 387.95 MPa

y = 18.45 MPa Max. Load = 9248 N

Experimental Results - Compression


Compressive Test - 3 mm/min
20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 0 0.1 0.2 Strain (mm/mm) 0.3 0.4

Axis Title

E1 = 257.42 MPa E2 = 348.30 MPa

y = 18.19 MPa Max. Load = 9120 N

Experimental Results - Compression


Compressive Test - 5 mm/min
20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 Strain (mm/mm) 0.4 0.5

Stress (MPa)

E1 = 238.78 MPa E2 = 338.68 MPa

y = 18.92 MPa Max. Load = 9489 N

Experimental Results - Compression


Compressive Test (nubless) - 1 mm/min
20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 Strain (mm/mm) 0.5 0.6

Stress (MPa)

E1 = 394.14 MPa

y = 18.77 MPa Max. Load = 9410 N

Experimental Results - Compression


Compressive Test (nubless) - 3 mm/min
20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 0 0.1 0.2 Strain (mm/mm) 0.3 0.4

Stress (MPa)

E1 = 417.44 MPa

y = 19.31 MPa Max. Load = 9679 N

Experimental Results - Compression


Compressive Test (nubless) - 5 mm/min
20 Stress (MPa) 15 10 5 0 0 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2 Strain (mm/mm) 0.25 0.3 0.35

E1 = 445.01 MPa

y = 20.06 MPa Max. Load = 10058.2 N

Experimental Results Compression with Acoustic Emission


Acoustic Emission - 1 mm/min
70 60 Amplitude of Emission (dB) 20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 0 80

Stress (MPa)

50 40
30
Elastic to plastic transition.

20 10 0 0.3 0.4

0.1

0.2 Strain (mm/mm)

y = 17.844 MPa Max. Load = 8941 N

Experimental Results Compression with Acoustic Emission


Acoustic Emission - 2 mm/min
20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 Strain (mm/mm) 0.4 0.5 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Amplitude of Emission (dB)

Stress (MPa)

y = 17.835 MPa Max. Load = 8941 N

Experimental Results A Comparison


Compression Rate vs. Max. Load
10500 10000 Max Load (N) 9500 9000 8500 y = 400.92ln(x) + 8886.2 R = 0.9451
~13% increase!

8000
7500 0 1 2 3 Compression Rate (mm/min) 4

Normal Legos Nubless Legos 5

Experimental Results Qualitative Analysis

Conclusions How many Legos?


Compression Rate 0.1 mm/min 1.0 mm/min 1.5 mm/min 2.0 mm/min Legos 358,602 (1,227) 407,163 (1,393) 415,674 (1,422) 417,582 (1,429) Height (mi) 2.148 (.007) 2.421 (.008) 2.472 (.008) 2.483 (.008)

3.0 mm/min
5.0 mm/min 1.0 mm/min* 3.0 mm/min* 5.0 mm/min*

411,803 (1,409)
428,467 (1,466) 424,903 (1,454) 437,039 (1,495) 454,159 (1,554)

2.449 (.008)
2.547 (.009) 2.527 (.009) 2.599 (.009) 2.701 (.009)**

* - Denotes nubless legos ** - Mt. Everest is 5.49 miles at its tallest height

Conclusions Notable Points

Structural Integrity One can determine the relative density of a Lego given its volume and mass. When done so, Legos have 41.33% the density of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), yet they have

17.81% of ABS Youngs modulus 45.95% of ABS yield strength

Conclusions Failure Analysis

Under high load, the weakest points on a Lego are the sidewalls, which bulge outwards. Center, cylindrical supports are not affected

and remain (relatively) unchanged in


comparison to sidewalls. To reinforce Legos, add support beams from center cylinder to outside walls. (See right)

Summary

One can stack upwards of 454,000 Legos on top of one

another until the bottom one breaks.


This result is highly dependant on compression rate, and follows a log scale. Nubless Lego can support ~13% more weight than their normal counterparts. This provides a more realistic answer, as Legos stack platen-on-platen rather than nub-on-nub. Although its high toughness and hardness make it attractive

as use for housing materials, its high thermal conductivity


and high flammability ultimately makes it unsafe.