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Can I buy Technic sets that are just assortments of parts as opposed to a specific vehicle?

Background

I do research on sediment carbon cycling in lakes and I need use a rotating array of magnets to keep the water from stratifying in my incubation cores during experiments.

The cores are arranged around the rotating magnets and there is another small magnet suspended in the water of the core tubes. The slowly rotating magnets cause just enough movement in the internally suspended magnets to induce some flow in the sealed cores.

Basically I need a setup that allows me to make slowly rotating horizontal ferris wheels of various sizes.

Historically I have built these setups from wood and small motors but I have begun to think that Legos would make a better and more flexible tool.

It looks like Technic sets are basically what I need (although other suggestions would be welcome) but I just want some basic parts not a cool truck or dune buggy. I have looked on the Lego Technic webpage and all I see are cool vehicles.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Lego sells several kits of parts through their Lego Education line. You can buy them online in the US here: http://www.legoeducation.us/

The direct link to the Technic kits is here: http://www.legoeducation.us/eng/characteristics/ProductLine~Machines%20and%20Mechanisms

They have a $50 "Simple Machines" set, a $140 "Simple and Motorized Mechanisms Base Set", a Pnuematics add-on set, and a very cool Renewable Energy set (yes, there is a Lego-branded solar panel!).

Also, if you look under the parts and accessories section (http://www.legoeducation.us/eng/characteristics/productType~LEGO%20Spare%20Parts%20and%20Accessories), you can order variety packs of various parts (e.g., 5 each of each length of the studless beams).

Caveat emptor: I have not compared prices to Bricklink.com, where you can also buy pretty much every Lego element ever molded in bulk quantities.

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The short answer at the moment is no, at least as far as I am aware. Although, as oddTodd points out, there are kits in the Education line that may provide what you are looking for.

The only Technic sets in production are models of some kind rather than parts packs. There is the Mindstorms set, which allows for many different models to be built, but that is a very expensive way to just get Technic parts, as it also includes the NXT brick, sensors, and motors.

There are a few ways to get just parts. Some are more expensive than just buying sets, while others are much cheaper.

The most expensive option is to order individual parts from LEGO Pick-a-brick. You should be able to find exactly what you need if you are willing to take the time to choose your parts individually.

Along the same vein, you can buy individual parts from Bricklink. This can be relatively affordable, especially if you are willing to pick up used parts.

If you don't need to choose individual parts, the cheapest and perhaps easiest way to get a large number of pieces is through auctions on sites like eBay.

If you don't mind getting older used sets, there was a line of Technic universal building sets during the 80s and early 90s. Though these can't be purchase directly from LEGO anymore, they are still available on sites like Bricklink or eBay.

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Lego sells Technic parts packs through their Education line. See my comment for further detail. –  oddTodd Aug 6 '13 at 21:50
1  
That's a great point. I forgot about the education line. I tend not to think of those as Technic since they aren't really part of the theme. They also tend to be very expensive for what you are actually getting. –  jncraton Aug 6 '13 at 22:32

Keep in mind that all Technic sets, even if they represent a vehicle or something, are also an assortment of parts by themselves. You don't need to build the model, and some sets are better "parts packs" than others.

I would also encourage you to check the inventories of current sets (on brickset or bricklink, for example) and see if some of them could suit you.

Even if you don't need all parts, keep in mind that sets are usually the cheaper way to get parts, and you could also resell parts you don't need. This may prove ultimately cheaper than buying in bulk from LEGO or Bricklink vendors, and Education isn't cheap either (depending on where you live).

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