Over the years there has been a lot of contention around the idea of 3D printed “Legos”. I put quotations around Legos because similar to Q-Tips and Kleenex, “Lego” is a brand name and not a product name. The product that lego produces is interlocking toy building blocks which although the name Lego is trademarked and copyrighted, the interlocking toy building block is not a patented design.
It is illegal to 3D print “Legos” due to the copyrights, licensing, and registered trademarks of The Lego Group. Although The Lego Group did create the design for Legos, the interlocking toy stackable brick is not a patent-protected design and can be produced and sold, just not as a “Lego”.
There has been a lot of semantics surrounding the legality of producing blocks that are similar in size and shape as well as blocks that can work with Lego products. For the most part, Lego has lost most of these battles and there are only a few Lego designs that are protected.
Are 3D Printed Lego Knockoffs Legal? Yes and No.
The name “Lego” is a registered trademark and is copyrighted therefore cannot be used without the permission of The Lego Group. So no, you cannot 3D Print “Legos”. It is, however, legal to 3D print and sell interlocking toy stackable bricks that are basically indistinguishable from what Lego sells.
3D printing knockoff blocks is allowed but there are some shapes and designs that Lego does own so it is important that you understand Lego’s legal authority that controls some of their designs.
Is It Illegal To Sell 3D Printed Legos?
It is illegal to sell anything advertised as a “Lego” without the explicit permission of The Lego Group. You are allowed to sell 3D printed blocks as long as you have permission to use the design and are using a name that is not restricted by copyright, such as, “interlocking stackable toy block”.
Even selling models labeled as “Lego Model” or “Model Built of Legos” is not legal, instead, per the Logo Fair Play Legal Disclaimer you must label your model as a “Model Built of Lego Bricks”. For most this probably sounds like the exact same thing, perhaps it is close enough but this is one of the semantic issues that LEGO has drawn a line in the sand about.
You obviously don’t have to use the robotic/encyclopedia sounding “Interlocking Stackable Toy Blocks” or “Interlocking Toy Building Blocks” there is a lot of opportunities to create your own brand name just like Mega Bloks did. Some of their products are indistinguishable from Legos yet they are well within their rights to create their own line of blocks.
Would Lego Pursue You Legally For Selling 3D Printed Legos?
Perhaps if you were to post a 3D printed block on eBay or Craigslist as a Lego that wasn’t actually a real Lego you would get away with it, but why would anyone want to take the risk.
In most cases, it really isn’t worth the few dollars you would earn on your fraudulent post. It is much better to remain truthful and post your blocks as “3D printed interlocking blocks” you could even advertise them as compatible with legos.
Realistically, Lego would probably flag you through the site that you are selling the fake Legos through and that site would remove your post and issue you a warning. There is always a possibility that Lego would pursue you legally and take you to court for losses.
At best your post would be removed and you would receive a warning, at worst case Lego would pursue you for losses from the company It would likely go to small claims court unless you are selling a very large volume and could be settled without any legal fees. In the state of Texas, the maximum for small claims is $20,000 so unless you were over that you would probably never see a trial.
Are There Any Legos That Are Illegal To 3D Print And Sell?
There are some designs that are owned and copyrighted by The Lego Group that are illegal to reproduce and sell, such as the “Lego Figurines” like the Lego-Man. The design of Lego Figurines cannot be reproduced and sold in any capacity except by The Lego Group.
If you are confused with what you are and are not allowed to print the website https://printablebricks.com/ is a great resource for free .stl files. I couldn’t find any legal disclaimers or terms on the printablebricks.com website so I would contact the site owner for permission to use their designs before selling 3D prints of their models but from everything I could find on their site, there is nothing stopping you from using their design in any way you would like.
Best 3D Printers For Legos/Toy Building Blocks.
Legos and most Mega Bloks are made of ABS so naturally, you will want an FDM 3D printer that is capable of printing ABS. Honestly, I don’t think that ABS is the best material to use when 3D printing blocks due to its tendency to shrink dramatically which could cause your blocks to not fit together properly.
A better alternative to ABS when 3D printing is PETG which has similar strength qualities but has a lower percentage of shrinkage. If you are trying to achieve more accurate prints check out this article here.
Ender 3 V2
The best cheap option for 3D printing legos is the Ender 3 V2. it is a 3D printer that I have talked about quite a bit on this website and want to continue singing its praises. There are not really any other 3D printers in this price point that perform as well as the Ender 3 V2 and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
If you are wanting to go more expensive and get more bells and whistles with your 3D printer then check out my article here.
Is It Chaper To Buy Or 3D Print Legos?
You will not save much money by 3D printing blocks at home. On average for a 3D printed block, it will cost $0.04 – $0.08 per piece, and to purchase bulk Legos cost $0.04 – $0.07 per piece. This is also not counting time for your 3D printer. To 3D print 100 blocks, it could take up to 30 hours.
The catch to this situation is that occasionally you will lose a critical piece or need a piece that is hard to find and instead of waiting weeks for a new single lego you can create one on your 3D printer within an hour. A 3D printer can essentially create any piece that you would need and will save you tons of time if used for the correct applications.