The Lego Group began manufacturing the interlocking toy bricks in 1949. Supporting movies, games, competitions, and six Legoland amusement parks have been developed under the brand.
The first stage is to identify market trends and developments, including contact by the designers directly with the market; some are stationed in toy shops close to holidays, while others interview children.
The second stage is the design and development of the product based upon the results of the first stage.
The Lego Group's Duplo product line was introduced in 1969 and is a range of simple blocks whose lengths measure twice the width, height and depth of standard Lego blocks and are aimed towards younger children.
In May 2011, Space Shuttle Endeavour mission STS-134 brought 13 Lego kits to the International Space Station, where astronauts built models to see how they would react in microgravity, as a part of the Lego Bricks in Space program.
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 optimized by way of mould flow and stress analysis.
As of September 2008 the design teams use 3D modeling software to generate CAD drawings from initial design sketches.
The designs are then prototyped using an in-house stereolithography machine.
Each Lego piece must be manufactured to an exacting degree of precision.