After 16 days of active build, the Compressed Earth Block (CEB) press prototype II is finished. You can compare this to Prototype I video in a previous post. We are well on our way to our first significant product release.
See the progress from the concept drawing by Jeremy:
To the actual build:
A 12 minute video shows the steps:
The main changes in Prototype II include:
- Rail guides which allow frictionless motion of the loading assembly, and eliminate the possibility of the machine jamming due to misalignment. This addresses the major issue we had previously, where a replaceable nylon 6/6 friction liner broke after less than 5000 bricks were pressed. We had significant issues with liner attachment. In this version, the liner is eliminated all together, and is replaced by an air space. This is achieved with the bearings, which fix the loading assembly in two dimensions, and allow it to hover slightly above the table.
- Extendable hopper. The hopper, as shown in the video, can be extended by inserting supports into the square tubes attached to the hopper. This way, the hopper can be expanded to 6 feet in size. This allows for loading of the CEB machine with a tractor front loader – the most important feature of Prototype II.
- Modified legs. First, the 4 retractable legs allow for balancing of the machine on uneven terrain. Second, the machine is designed with a small base area so that by digging a small hole of 10×12 inches in size, the frame can be lowered underground. This allows the machine to be placed at ground level, such that the machine can be loaded with a wheelbarrow.
We have pressed our first signature brick with the new machine, and inscribed it with the name for the first donor for Inga’s House.
Our next step will be field testing. The progress so far is promising, as we are finally optimizing our earth construction ability. We learned last year (CEB Story) that effective earth construction can happen when we can utilize tractor assist in all the earth handling operations prior to brick pressing. This stems from the basic fact of earth construction – that earth handling is a laborious process.
In designing an effective earth building operation, it is necessary to mechanize as much of the earth handling as possible. This is a major learning on our path towards creating a post-scarcity economy.