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Jiaxing, China — Toy molder Lego A/S has a new 1.

77 million-square-foot
injection molding plant in China that, when it’s operating at full capacity, will
make 72 billion ABS bricks annually.
But the company is keeping a focus on sustainability. The most recent sign:
Lego is in the process of installing 20,000 solar panels on the factory roof. The
company expects the panels to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 8.81
million pounds per year.
Tim Brooks, vice president for environmental sustainability, and President and
CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp traveled to Jiaxing for a Nov. 25 inauguration
event. The factory actually started production about a year ago.
Some 1,200 people are employed at the factory, which produces between 70
to 80 percent of all Lego products sold in Asia. Billund, Denmark-based Lego
also owns and operates factories in Denmark, Hungary, Mexico and the
Czech Republic.
Brooks said the Jiaxing plant is Lego’s most sustainable.
Lego sustainability drive has achieved some measurable results. Packaging
waste has been reduced, and energy efficiency has been increased so that
the amount of energy used to make each Lego brick has been reduced by 16
percent. Lego still hopes to achieve another 2.5 percent reduction.
The Jiaxing factory also uses 100 percent LED lighting and highly efficient
molding machines. Brooks said the sustainability drive extends into the local
community. Lego has pledged to reduce carbon dioxide emission by 8 million
pounds in surrounding Jiaxing area.
One of the two molding workshops visited by Plastics News featured 384
molding machines in 404,723 square feet of space. Lego representatives said
the company plans to expand to 1,536 machines in eight workshops to handle
the hundreds of different molds.
Brooks said the company currently buys about 76,000 tons of plastic a year,
but Lego’s search for a replacement material for ABS continues. He
emphasized that is one component of a larger sustainability effort. The
company is investing $100 million on finding more sustainable materials.
“In the long term we want to be zero waste,” he said in an interview at the
Jiaxing plant.
The Process

LEGO bricks and elements are manufactured at the group’s own factories in
Denmark, Hungary, Czech Republic and Mexico.

LEGO bricks are plastic injection moulded and so the process starts with tiny
plastic granules. Inside the moulding machine these granules are superheated
to around 230 degrees Celsius and are fed into moulds inside the machine.
The machine then applies hundreds of tons of pressure to make sure the
bricks are shaped with perfect accuracy, they are then cooled and ejected.
This process takes only 10 seconds to carry out, due to it being almost
completely automated.

The moulds used in production are accurate to within 0.005mm and this
accuracy means that only 18 elements in every one million products fail to
meet the high quality standard.

This whole process was shown in ‘The Secret World of Lego’ and can be seen
in the trailer below.

As a company specialising in rapid tooling and plastic injection moulding, it

was great to see the service being promoted by one of the biggest companies
in the world. Not only does it allow people to appreciate the process behind
these kind of products but it educates the future generations and those who
may need to invest in these processes in the future.
LegoInterior of the Jiaxing factory, showing molding machines

Strategic entry into China

The opening of the Jiaxing factory is part of a strategic entry into China by
Lego, said Amon Wang, vice president of marketing for Lego Toy (Shanghai).
The factory will make it easier for Lego to supply the Asian market. Lego
reported double-digit growth in the Europe and Asia in the first half of 2016.
She added that the company faces a challenge in China unlike other markets:
there is no parent generation of adults who fondly remember their childhood
playing with Legos.
“We’d like to motivate the parents to play [with] the bricks together with their
kids. We’re trying to nurture such habits,” she said. “We’re trying to get them
to play together and have fun.”
True to the vision, Lego even produced a Lego version of the factory to
commemorate the Jiaxing factory opening.