Since 1963, Lego pieces have been manufactured from a strong, resilient plastic known as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). As of September 2008, Lego engineers use the NX CAD/CAM/CAE PLM software suite to model the elements. The software allows the parts to be optimised by way of mould flow and stress analysis. Prototype moulds are sometimes built before the design is committed to mass production. The ABS plastic is heated to 232 °C (450 °F) until it reaches a dough-like consistency. It is then injected into the moulds at pressures between 25 and 150 tonnes, and takes approximately 15 seconds to cool. The moulds are permitted a tolerance of up to twenty micrometres, to ensure the bricks remain connected. Human inspectors check the output of the moulds, to eliminate significant variations in colour or thickness. According to the Lego Group, about eighteen bricks out of every million fail to meet the standard required. Lego factories recycle all but about 1 percent of their plastic waste from the manufacturing process. If the plastic cannot be re-used in Lego bricks, it is processed and sold on to industries that can make use of it. Lego has a self-imposed 2030 deadline to find a more eco-friendly alternative to the ABS plastic it currently uses in its bricks.
I’m pleased to report that I thoroughly enjoyed building this set, and what’s more I quite enjoyed playing with it afterwards as well…. First and foremost it’s an excellent play set – it’s not often that you get three good-sized vehicles plus a large building and a number of accessories in a single set at this price point. Furthermore, all three aircraft are actually pretty good, particularly the two jets which look really sleek apart from their prominent cockpit canopies. The jets are also solidly built, surprisingly weighty, and eminently swooshable; you can conveniently grab them by their lateral air intakes and nothing falls off when you swoosh them around - I know this as I extensively tested this particular play feature…. The hanger is admittedly a bit insubstantial, but overall this set lived up to my expectations and I’ll certainly be picking up a couple more of the Airport sets this summer.