Fast 3D Printing Using Bricks

Figure 1: Let’s fabricate this head-mounted display body quickly: (a) The exact shape of the lens mounts matters; the user thus marks them as “high-resolution” in faBrickator and (b) prints them. (c) faBrickator shows the user how to create everything else from Lego bricks and how to insert the 3D printed part. (d) Done in 67 minutes instead of the 14:30h for 3D printing.

faBrickation is a new approach to rapid prototyping of functional objects, such as the body of a head-mounted display. The key idea is to save 3D printing time by automatically substituting sub-volumes with standard building blocks — in our case Lego bricks. When making the body for a head-mounted display, for example, getting the optical path right is paramount. Users thus mark the lens mounts as “high-resolution” to indicate that these should later be 3D printed. faBrickator then 3D prints these parts. It also generates instructions that show users how to create everything else from Lego bricks.

If users iterate on the design later, faBrickator offers even greater benefit as it allows re-printing only the elements that changed. We validated our system at the example of three 3D models of functional objects. On average, our system fabricates objects 2.44 times faster than traditional 3D printing while requiring only 14 minutes of manual assembly.

faBrickation on YouTube


Mueller, S., Mohr, T., Guenther, K., Frohnhofen, J., Baudisch, P.
faBrickation: Fast 3D Printing of Functional Objects by Integrating Construction Kit Building Blocks.
In Proceedings of CHI 2014, pp. 3827-3834.
 PDF (10.8MB) |  Slides (131.1MB)  |  Video


We thank the 3D printing lab of the Berlin Institute of Technology for sharing their 3D printing resources, Alexandra Ion for helping with the 3D prints, and Serafima Gurevich for feedback.