At the end of June 2015, CEA LIST (a French Research Institution) contacted me, asking for my freelance services as industrial LEGO designer in order to build a working LEGO car factory model. This working industrial model will be the test bench for their new Eclipse Papyrus plugin, a programming language for automation and industrial processes.
The specifications for the LEGO car factory were set by CEA, and we agreed on some adjustments in order to make a robust compact and modular LEGO MINDSTORMS model.
The little LEGO car built by the factory is an adaptation of LEGO Movie Emmet’s car featured in the LEGO set 70818. I had to redesign it so that each subcomponent (especially the front part) could stay together alone in a robust way, and be easily assembled on the chassis.
Each car has a custom-printed plaque showing CEA Tech Logo. Each minifigure has a printed torso showing Papyrus and CEA tech logos. The custom-printed LEGO parts were provided by Print-a-Brick, which I strongly recommend for the quality of the digital printing and the speed of the service.
All the four modules of the LEGO car factory share the same design, and can be snapped together easily just like the LEGO CREATOR modular buildings. Each module features a 4-degrees-of-freedom (DOF) manipulator robot arm, a gravity rack for the parts, a conveyor and a “welding station”, which actually is a press that assembles the car subparts onto each other. The first module (the master) just
picks the car chassis from the gravity racks (featuring a mechanical stop), and places it on the conveyor, thus it does not need the press. The 4DOF robot arm is a redesign of my old manipulator robot
featured in my NXT industrial plant model, realized for Elettric80.
I programmed the LEGO car factory in EV3Basic, a textual programming language based on Microsoft SmallBasic with a specific extension for the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3. At the time of development, EV3Basic was the only textual programming language for LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 that supported Bluetooth communication, and allowed quick programming via USB, without having to deal with firmware replacement, cumbersome wi-fi based communcation, and long compiling time.
The factory is one of the physical test models for the programming language Papyrus, that is currently being developed at CEA-LIST.