Building Mining Equipment Out of Lego Bricks

By Mark S. Kuhar 

Jesse & Tuomas Pyykkönen with Lego-Sleipner model.

Unveiling new machinery and equipment for the mining industry is never a simple task due to their enormous size, let alone with today’s travel restrictions around the world. Recognizing this, Finnish machinery manufacturer Sleipner Finland Oy decided to launch its latest DB-series model in a completely new and unprecedented way: Sleipner asked Jesse Pyykkönen, 18, and Tuomas Pyykkönen, 13, to construct a model of the new Sleipner DB-series out of Lego bricks.

The two brothers from Pudasjärvi in northern Finland were presented with their first-ever 3D model, which they then disassembled into parts to study and take measurements of all the individual components. The brothers built the model entirely from Lego Technic bricks, right down to the smallest detail – including the engine – and without any instructions.

“For the first time, we were able to build by studying the manufacturer’s 3D model directly. Even though it took a little time at first to get used to the operating system, it allowed us to view the details with great accuracy. The image did not pixelate even when we zoomed in, and it was possible to measure all the angles and thicknesses of the components. This was a really big advantage for perfecting the details. For example, there were a lot of details in the bogie structure that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. We were able to make these too look realistic by looking closely at the 3D images from every direction, even from below,” Jesse explained. 

“We really had to do a lot of reverse engineering and study how to make a real machine and then build it. For example, we had to figure out how the loading ramps and lifting hydraulics work. At the back of the trailer bed, we made three loading ramps to match precisely the original model. The ramps follow the ground surface during loading. In addition, the trailer bed has a hydraulic winch, which we replicated using a Lego Technic electric motor. The challenge was to make it durable yet small enough to fit in a tight space, and to get enough torque to be able to tow a model of a tracked machine onto the platform. This was one of the most challenging aspects of building the trailer bed,” Tuomas said.

The Lego-Sleipner is certainly impressive in its details. Even the LED lights and turn signals work just like on the real model. In addition, the hydraulic hoses and lines are all in the right place. The precise detailing can also be admired on the Volvo dump truck: the six-wheel drive, axle suspension and even the green engine is the same as the actual model.

“It was amazing how meticulously the brothers worked on all the details. For example, safety steps and winch operate just like the originals. Thanks to this attention to detail, we can now use the scale model to train our sales peoples, for example. We look forward to working with the Pyykkönen brothers again in the future. After all, it is the daydream of every engineer to construct Lego models,” said Teijo Höylä, project manager at Sleipner.

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