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The Lifespan of LEGO

By Norman Chan

How many times can you connect and disconnect a LEGO piece until it wears out?

Many people build LEGO sets just once and then put them on display, but these building blocks are meant to be taken apart and reassembled into different forms. Phillipe Cantin wanted to find out how many times a piece of LEGO could be used before the connections wear out, and built an Arduino-based machine to automate that test. A servo-motor controlled arm connected and disconnected two pieces of LEGO (standard six-stud connection), and an infrared sensor checked to see if the LEGO piece was sticking. The test--which Cantin says was noisy--took 102 hours to perform, and confirmed 37,112 actions before the LEGO bricks no longer connected. The more you know!