The LDraw unit (or LDU) is the basic unit of measure in the LDraw parts library. Since LEGO elements do not have exact english or metric measurements the LDU is expressed in terms of elements. The rectangular prism part of a 1x1 brick (not including the top stud) is 20 wide x 20 long x 24 high in LDU.
Some AFOLs are also used to talk in term of fraction of "stud" where a "stud" is the horizontal size of one size of a 1x1 plate or brick. This can lead to confusion as the diameter of a stud is 0.6 "stud".
1 "studs" = ~8 millimetres1 (~5/16 inches) = 20 LDU ("~" means "approximately")
Others will use "brick" in this same place. Hence ... when talking about parts, LDU should be prefered as it allows to deal with whole numbers and not fractions, and doesn't lead to confusion with any idiomatic vocabulary.
To the left is a table with conversion factors among
- LDU (LDraw Units)
- "studs" (stud units as described above)
- "bricks" (brick units as described above)
- "plates" (plate units as described above)
- cm (centimetre, Metric)
- in (inch, US or Imperial)
- pt (point, printing measure)
It should be read as row in column, e.g. 1 LDU(row) = 0.04 cm (0.04 is value of cm column) whereas 1 cm (row) = 25 LDU (25 is value of LDU column)