Saturday, January 29, 2011

Studded vs Studless Design. The Question Is, Does It Matter?

It seems that it's expected of just about anyone even slightly related to Lego Technic to have a strong opinion on Studded vs Studless debate. So I'll add my spoonful of thoughts as well.

First of all, having used both Technic types, I can confirm the arguments and counterarguments of the opposing sides. Studded Technic is a "Classic" Lego, somewhat easier to build from the bottom up, and the beams are stronger. Studless parts offer more elegant and compact mechanical solutions (what Technic is all about), but are more difficult to build and somewhat more brittle than the studded beams.

But, the more I build, the more I tend not to think of the problem as the question "Studded or Studless?", but rather ― does it matter at all? A good design should always use the optimal parts and systems for the given problem, and sometimes it will be studded, sometimes not. Why should we strictly adhere to the one or the other side if the optimal design will probably often incorporate both (hybrid)?

I can understand the viewpoint of the builders that see the two sides as incompatible due to different engineering philosophy, but after all ― studded and studless, it's all perfectly legitimate Lego Technic, and should be used according to the purpose and function, not its ancestry.

Limiting the spectrum of available bricks can make sense in some special categories, such as the modelers contests where a certain style is required, but the essence of Technic is finding a best mechanical solution for the given task. It doesn't matter whether does it have studs as long as it's mechanically clever altogether, does it?

After all, that is the approach Lego Group employs as well (though not often, I admit). The 8053 Crane, reviewed here on Legoism, uses both types. Studless design in majority, but where it was practical to employ the good old studded beams, they did so.

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