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"Writing" On Bricks

shannon26shannon26 Member Posts: 24
edited January 2012 in Everything else LEGO
Hey guys, First off long time lurker first time poster (-:'

Second, I hope I am able to post this here, and I hope it is in the correct forum

Third, I know all of you folks are very creative hence the love for Lego. So I need your help. I have thought and thought about the following for months and still don't have a great solution.

I have a Lego project that I am working on and I need to be able to "write" on the side of Lego the 2x4 Bricks , each brick will be unique and when I say large QTY I am talking 100,00's all with unique text.

I know there are 1 or 2 businesses online that deal with "engraving" or "printing" and I have contacted one of them but I was hopeing for something that I would be able to achieve myself without hiring someone external, and in the case of going through a existing business it is going to cost upwards of $2-$3 per brick, more than I was hoping to spend since thats going to be $200,000 or so (-:"

It would just be text and it would be on both sides of the brick (in most cases) I have thought about writing by hand but it is messy, tried clear adhesive inkjet labels and sticking them on the side but WAY to time consuming and they don't look all that good. Thought about engraving etc but nothing stands out as a excellent idea.

I was hopping for something automated at least to a degree, say a text file or PDF with the info and then a way to print directly onto the brick. Can this be done. Can it be done by a individual who isn't rich and doesn't have $10,000 to splash out on setting it up.

Anyhow hopping for some ideas, or something that I haven't thought of by using on of your creative minds (-:"

Thanks Guys & Gals.


  • dougtsdougts Member Posts: 4,110
    so the 100,000 would all have different text from each other, no duplicates?
  • SupersympaSupersympa Member Posts: 534
    Did you contact the Lego company directly?
    I do not have a solution on top of my head...except stickers....
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    edited January 2012
    Well this guy had a similar problem. From reading that, I think the most effective solution is to use a flatbed printer like these or like this. You'd have to build your bricks into a wall, which would then lie on top of the printer. You'd have to create a file in Illustrator that lines up with the bricks. Then the printer would print directly onto your wall of bricks. Problem is the equipment is expensive and the process is time consuming.

    Or you can hire someone with a really steady hand to write on each one.

  • shannon26shannon26 Member Posts: 24
    Yes they would all be different texts, to be honest the 100,000 is the low end of the scales, could be more like 300,000

    I have not contacted Lego directly although I don't think they would be much help, could be worth a shot I guess.

    Thanks for those links, will definitely give me something to look at, I see what you are saying and could definitely be worth looking at, maybe I could fine somewhere which would be able to do the printing for me and I wouldn't have to purchase the machinery myself?

    Have thought about the sharpie idea, and is in the lead except no matter what on such a small area it looks messy and is also time consuming.

    Thanks guys really appreciate the input though.

  • sidersddsidersdd Member Posts: 2,432
    ^ if your project is for educational purposes (especially for kids) and something which would benefit LEGO through some public exposure (public display, news article, research journal) then I'd say it's worth talking to someone at LEGO.
  • pcironepcirone Member Posts: 346
    Seems to me that 'automated' and 'inexpensive' can't co-exist. How about one of those rubber stamps with 'wheels' to change the letters and an ink pad with indelible ink? Low cost, professional results, but time consuming.
  • MinifigsMeMinifigsMe Member Posts: 2,844
    300,000 of anything, especially 2 sided isn't going to be cheap. 2-3 dollars doesnt' sound too bad! It's going to cost you about £10,000 just for the bricks.

    But this:, a permenant marker and a wall of bricks feeding through could be a solution!
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    edited January 2012
    I remember I used to have a DYMO label maker, where you created your own labes, peeled the backing tape off, and they would easily stick to non-porous surfaces (such as 2x4 bricks).

    Here's some modern DYMO products that will do this...

    I'm sure they have a product that will be able to size to the side of a 2x4 brick... and new ones are easy to use.
  • georgebjonesgeorgebjones Member Posts: 224
    I haven't used it, but looks like this would be perfect for what you want.

    Color possibilities are endless, and I am sure it would do what you want. Only about $200 USD.
  • MatthewMatthew Administrator Posts: 3,714
    ^^ I've got a LetraTag, which I use for my BL store. It would probably do for white bricks.
  • Cam_n_StuCam_n_Stu Member Posts: 368
    Egg-bot looks great but would take a age to do 300,000 although if you had a number of them running in parallel it might be OK.

    For that sort of quantity though I think you would be better off looking at a contactless industrial inkjet printing system. georgebjones egg-bot post actually reminded me about them as a common use is printing use by dates on to fresh eggs and more recently logos too. The price is likely to rise in proportion to the quality of print that you want and the speed/bulk capabilities. I suspect someone on the forum will know a lot more about these than I do...

    I received an engraved brick from LEGO a couple of years back as a thank you and even the one they (had?) produced was not great. The text formation was imperfect and was at a slight slant to the brick itself.
  • shannon26shannon26 Member Posts: 24
    Thanks guys,

    I'm sure heaps of this info will come in handy, I'm at work at the moment so can't look at it all but will later, really appreciate the help.

    I guess if just shows that Lego and creative really are the same, and that there isnt a single solution but multiple options, which unfortunately is this projects downside to (-:"

    Another question, since most people that have a interest in Lego are some what perfectionist, do you think writing on the side in a sharpie will detract from the idea, and people will be less like to be interested/contribute as it won't be "neat"?

    Sorry I can't give to much of the project away (-:" I know it makes it somewhat difficult to discuss, see a vision.
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    edited January 2012
    @shannon26 Just a thought about printing the bricks: If you assemble the bricks into a sheet it then effectively becomes one item to place into the printer. I'm sure part of the cost of doing multiples of bricks is the work required to place each item into the printer. So if you put together the bricks and treat the assembly as a single item, the cost might be less. The key will be to line up your design with the grid, but as long as the printer is properly calibrated (registration) and the dimensions specified in the design are right, everything should line up perfectly. That is another area that increases cost: creating the design file with all the text. If you do this yourself, that would be another way to save money. Use a graphic design program and lay out a grid representing the surface of the sheet. The side of a 2x4 brick would be 32.0mm x 9.6mm. The studs on the top row would stick out 1.6mm. Then fill in the space on the grid with the text you want. By doing these two things yourself, you save the printer a lot of work. So the cost of the job should go down a lot.

    So, let's say the printer you contact has a small flatbed printer, an A3 size printer like the one I linked. Based on the dimensions of the brick, you can fit a sheet of 589 2x4 bricks into the printer: 31 rows of 10 interlaced with 31 rows of 9. To print out 100000 bricks it will take 170 runs. Double sided is 340. Let's say it costs $20 a sheet, that would be $6800 dollars. I don't know how much it costs. Maybe it's like $10 a pop, only $3400. Now, if the printer has a larger printer, you can place a larger sheet. Maybe that would bring the cost down more. I'd ask around.

    Whatever you choose to do, I'd be interested to know what route you take. Good luck on your project :)
  • shannon26shannon26 Member Posts: 24
    First off on my iPhone so sorry for all the spelling mistakes I know this will have.

    The idea about printing on the bricks is definitelly a awesome idea. Funny thing is that with this project I have been trying to get a whole bunch of different ideas and one of the people I contacted was a family member who works at a professional printing company, he was also keen on the idea and has been looking into methods over the last few days for me.

    Yesterday he contacted me and said he had got a whole bunch of paperwork and some test bricks organised and was sending it out to me so I am very interested to see what he come up with as opposed to your idea. And then to discuss the advantages/disadvantages of the two if they are indeed different.

    One of the upper hands that I have is that I am controlling how the data is stored and in what format etc. so I believe (I have to talk to the web designer more) but essentially I should be able to get the text fed straight through to say a file format that the printer is cabable of printing from and have it laid out like the grid pattern with the correct dimensions (thanks for those by the way (-:") and even go as far as side 1 going to one file format, side two going to a separate file etc.

    I will definitelly keep you updated over the next week or so as we experiment and look at all the different methods and what works best.

    Thanks again for all the help, has really given me some great ideas.
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