Children

Crossbeams lets you design and build your own toys

Crossbeams lets you design and...
Crossbeams makes it easy to freely create or to design and assemble a huge range of toys
Crossbeams makes it easy to freely create or to design and assemble a huge range of toys
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Crossbeams can be used for more practical purposes as well, and they're capable of withstanding 20 lb (9 kg) of normal force
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Crossbeams can be used for more practical purposes as well, and they're capable of withstanding 20 lb (9 kg) of normal force
A 487-piece Crossbeams design of a sports car that features seating, steering, moving wheels, and doors that open and close
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A 487-piece Crossbeams design of a sports car that features seating, steering, moving wheels, and doors that open and close
A dolphin created with Crossbeams
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A dolphin created with Crossbeams
The Crossbeams Modelling tool lets you prototype designs on a computer screen
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The Crossbeams Modelling tool lets you prototype designs on a computer screen
A dumptruck created with Crossbeams
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A dumptruck created with Crossbeams
An eagle created with Crossbeams
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An eagle created with Crossbeams
An elephant created with Crossbeams
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An elephant created with Crossbeams
A formula 1 car, complete with moving wheels, created with Crossbeams
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A formula 1 car, complete with moving wheels, created with Crossbeams
A house built with Crossbeams
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A house built with Crossbeams
Crossbeams builds can incorporate gears into the frame
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Crossbeams builds can incorporate gears into the frame
The International Space Station, built with Crossbeams
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The International Space Station, built with Crossbeams
The Crossbeams joint; beneath the ring, the pieces lock together
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The Crossbeams joint; beneath the ring, the pieces lock together
A pickup truck, created with Crossbeams
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A pickup truck, created with Crossbeams
One of eight orientations in which these pieces can fit together
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One of eight orientations in which these pieces can fit together
More complex vehicle structures are within the capacity of Crossbeams, too
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More complex vehicle structures are within the capacity of Crossbeams, too
Rockets (in this case, the Saturn V) suit the wireframe look of a Crossbeams build
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Rockets (in this case, the Saturn V) suit the wireframe look of a Crossbeams build
More complex vehicle structures are within the capacity of Crossbeams, too
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More complex vehicle structures are within the capacity of Crossbeams, too
A Sopwith Camel plane, built with Crossbeams
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A Sopwith Camel plane, built with Crossbeams
As do space shuttles
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As do space shuttles
Crossbeams makes it easy to freely create or to design and assemble a huge range of toys
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Crossbeams makes it easy to freely create or to design and assemble a huge range of toys
A generic, utility helicopter built with Crossbeams
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A generic, utility helicopter built with Crossbeams
You could conceivably recreate your favorite motorcycle in miniature form with Crossbeams
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You could conceivably recreate your favorite motorcycle in miniature form with Crossbeams
...and in a huge one
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...and in a huge one
A galleon-style ship created with Crossbeams
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A galleon-style ship created with Crossbeams
The Eiffel Tower, modelled with Crossbeams
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The Eiffel Tower, modelled with Crossbeams
A dirt bike design created with Crossbeams
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A dirt bike design created with Crossbeams
A close-up of someone building with Crossbeams
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A close-up of someone building with Crossbeams
The US Capitol building depicted in a small Crossbeams build
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The US Capitol building depicted in a small Crossbeams build
A pine tree, built with Crossbeams
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A pine tree, built with Crossbeams
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Electrical engineer Charles Sharman noticed several years ago that as they got older, the children he taught at Sunday School tended to migrate from Lego and other building toys to video games. He wanted them to keep creating, so he started a company called Seven:Twelve Engineering and began designing a building toy that could hold the attention of these older kids. That toy is called Crossbeams, and it can be used to design and assemble a huge range of toys – including big, detailed, moving cars and helicopters.

Crossbeams are small, stiff, white tube-shaped bits of solid plastic. Some are curved or bent at one end. Others are completely straight. There are also special pieces like gears and wheels, and different kinds of joints. Crossbeams join together in two steps: first with a typical male/female connection in which one slides into the other, then with a ring that you twist 45 degrees to secure the joint against different kinds of stress and to allow your constructions to withstand up to 20 lb (9 kg) of normal force.

Each Crossbeam piece can be connected in any of eight different orientations, and there are over 40 piece types (including the joints), so there's a lot of flexibility in what you can produce. Having said that, most frames designed so far can be created from less than half that.

You can buy kits with an instruction set for a single model, Lego style, but Sharman suggests you mix and match pieces from different kits when building – it's more about creativity than assembly. The kits that are available are broken into 10 categories: animals, cars and trucks, construction, helicopters, motorcycles, planes, ships, space, structures, and trees. Fully assembled, these range from small – around 100 pieces total and measuring a foot or less in each direction – to huge – a 2,242-piece model of the US Capitol building is 4.6 feet (1.4 m) wide while a 1,027-piece Saturn V rocket is 7.5 feet (2.3 m) tall.

...and in a huge one
...and in a huge one

If you're not into experimenting by hand, you can design your own Crossbeam models in a virtual environment – a 3D modelling program called Crossbeams Modeller – and share it with the community or order your pieces to make it real.

Far from being just a children's toy, Sharman and his team have thought up more practical uses for Crossbeams as well. The product website shows off examples of the interlocking pieces being used to create an elevated trash holder, a book prop for hands-free reading, a rotating Scrabble table, and more. Just as Lego has become a favorite prototyping tool of many engineers and industrial designers, Crossbeams looks as though it has the versatility and ease of use to quickly test out all sorts of ideas.

Price varies wildly depending on what pieces (and how many) you're looking to get. A 500-piece assortment will set you back US$117.09, while the 123-piece Jet Fighter Kit costs $26.02. A kit for a massive 1,482-piece model of the Brooklyn Bridge costs $266.03. And in case you were wondering, Crossbeams only come in white.

Crossbeams Modeller, meanwhile, is free to download and use, so you might like to start there in seeing what Crossbeams are capable of.

Source: Crossbeams

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3 comments
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that is creative and has a lot of potential.
Misti Pickles
Heck! I'm 53 and really want one. My kids would have to fight me for it. I have my dad's 1940's erector set partially displayed with the electric powered fris wheel built, and the kids Legos big and small are obtains waiting for the grandkids to come play!