Lego’s shift a few years ago to selling 3D printers and blueprints for their blocks has seen their share value grow dramatically despite the naysayers who said they were committing commercial suicide.
Instead of selling blocks, they now sell 3D printers with biodegradable PLA filament and downloadable blueprints for an ever growing variety of blocks and other shapes.
Lego biodegradable PLA filament comes in a variety of colors and whilst they don’t have the strength (and plastic pollution potential) of the old blocks that last for decades and end up as landfill, you can also buy an extruder which grinds up the plastic and allows you to rebuild new pieces from the same material.
This innovation won them the 2025 Frost & Sullivan Green Manufacturing Excellence Awards and has resulted in an explosion of new designs of Lego Toys. Lego gained a strong resurgence since the Lego movie came out in 2014, but were concerned about being good corporate citizens and this initiative has ensured that they stay highly profitable despite the fact that they are no longer manufacturing their own blocks and toys.
When challenged about job losses, Lego VP of Manufacturing Morty Fied said that they are actually employing more people than before, because the block manufacture and packaging had been largely automated in factories and now they are employing many CAD toy design specialists and supporting horticulture where the raw materials are grown and extruded into biodegradable filament. He challenged other toy makers and manufacturers of plastic products to follow suit and help reduce the impact of plastic products to the environment.
Meanwhile in several countries such as India and many in Africa some forms of plastic waste are compatible for plastic extrusion with devices like the Filabot, another recent high flyer. This has resulted in people scrambling to recover waste plastics from landfill where they would have been an eyesore and dangerous pollutant for decades. Today’s rubbish is producing tomorrow’s prized toys and other products including tools and musical instruments.
Recent startup PUBER has signed a major contract with a Chinese manufacturer to produce hundreds of thousands of trailered EV chargers as they roll out their new mobile charging service for electric vehicles that have run out of power on the road.
These new devices have power adaptors for most brands of electric cars and can charge them back to full charge in around half an hour.
CEO Max Power said that one of the things he was really pleased about was being able to provide self employment opportunities for people who had lost their incomes when companies like Uber and Lyft made the shift to driverless cars. “It’s kind of ironic”, he said from his home in Chattanooga TN ” that we are offering employment to people whose livelihoods disappeared when these companies replaced the people who built their business with autonomous cars.”
He went on to say that PUBER was launched in a think tank at the 10th annual Chattanooga startup week and immediately gained traction with investors who recognised that there was a major opportunity with a growing trend of people running out of electricity during their trips. “Many people haven’t made the mental shift from having cars that can drive for 500 miles on a tank, to a car that can only do about 200 miles. Many forget to charge them up and overestimate how far they can go when they get back in.”
Owner operators buy one or more towable trailers fitted with a large powerpack and power adaptors for most brands of car. Customers have a mobile app which allows them to send their GPS location, prepayment and a service request to the nearest PUBER operator who can’t wait to get them on the road again.