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close this bookAppropriate Building Materials: a Catalogue of Potential Solutions (SKAT, 1988, 430 p.)
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Machines and equipment


Construction efficiency depends not only on the builders' skills, but to a large extent on the machines and equipment used. These are required for a variety of purposes, for instance:

· to improve the quality of raw material,

· to improve the strength and durability of a product, without increasing the quantity of expensive constituents (eg cement),

· to obtain more uniform products and better quality finishes,

· to achieve higher production rates,

· to simplify or eliminate tiring operations.

The machines and equipment presented on the following pages are of necessity only a small selection. Their inclusion does not represent a valuation or recommendation, but mainly depended on the availability of up-to-date information. In each case, the manufacturer and/ or source is given, such that further details can be obtained directly.

The machines and equipment covered in this annex are:

· Soil crushers (required to pulverize dry lumps of clay, in order to get uniform grain sizes and better quality mixes for the production of burnt clay backs and tiles, or air-dried soil blocks);

· Clay brick and tile moulding equipment (with which more uniform products can be made, with less effort and greater speed, than by traditional methods);

· Soil block presses (which produce compacted, stabilized or unstabilized soil blocks, which can be used without firing);

· Block clamps (which require only one hand to lift large, heavy blocks and place them accurately in masonry walls, providing uniform vertical joints between the blocks);

· Concrete hollow block moulds (which are designed for compaction by manual tamping or mechanical vibration);

· Portable compaction devices (for rammed earth construction or production of concrete components);

· Fibre concrete roof tile plants (for small and large scale production of pantiles and ridge tiles, using hand powered or electric screeding machines, and a set of moulds);

· Wire lacing tool (used to make strong bamboo and timber connections with 2 to 5 mm thick galvanized steel wire).


Pendulum Clay Crusher

Intermediate Technology
Overend Road, Cradley Heath,
West Midlands B64 7DD
United Kingdom

The ITW Pendulum clay crusher is designed to meet the needs of small scale product manufacturers such as brickmakers. Dry clay lumps are fed into the hopper. The reciprocating crusher head grinds against a static plate reducing the clay to small particles which pass over an oscillating screen. This yields an output of fine powder which can then be easily fumed into a smooth malleable clay by the addition of water. The resulting clay will be free of lumps and ready for moulding into high quality bricks or other clay products.

Source: ITW information leaflet


Appro-Techno Soil Pulverizer

24 Rue de la Rieze
B-6404 Couvin - Cul-de-Sarts

Two counterrotating cylinders with solid steel rods pulverize the clay by a hammering action; powered by electric motor or diesel engine. Source: CRATerre, France

CERADES H2 Clay Disintegrator

Rue du Touquet, 228
B-7793 Ploegsteert

This is an impact rotor crusher consisting of two counterrotating hollow drums (squirrel box type). Output up to 9 m3/hour. Available with electric motor or diesel engine, with or without soil evacuation belt conveyor
Source: CERATEC information leaflet

CONSOLID AG, CH-9467 Frumsen, Switzerland (machine manufactured in France)

Shreddering and treatment of cuttings of trees and hedges (up to a diametre of 7 cm) all kinds of organic refuses, compost, soil (also stony soil), feuillage, splittery materials as for example bones or wooden cases, paper, cardboard, as well as all other organic refuses.
Source: CONSOLID leaflet


ITW/Parry Type E Brick Press

Intermediate Technology Workshops
Overend Road, Cradley Heath,
West Midlands B64 7DD
United Kingdom

The rated output of the Type "E" press is 800 bricks per day. Some of our customers achieve in excess of 1,000 bricks in an 8 hour shift.
Standard Mould Size

After drying and firing this produces a brick of international standard (S1) in work dimension 225 x 112.5 x 75mm. Non standard sizes are possible for an additional tooling change.
Source: ITW information leaflet


CBRI Clay Brick Table Mould

Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee 247 667, India

On this table the bricks are moulded without mechanical compression other than the compaction achieved by throwing the clot of clay forcibly into the mould cavity. A slightly modified table mould is also available for making roofing tiles, for which a lid is provided and pressure is applied manually. Source: CBRI Building Research Note No. 6

CRDI Lever Press for Roof Tiles

Ceramic Research and Development Institute, Jalan Jenderal Ahmad Yani 392, Bandung, Indonesia

The machine, operated by 3 people, requires a force of 30 kg on the lever arm to apply a force of 800 kg on the fresh tile. Two moulds are provided so that one mould can be demoulded and loaded while the other one is being compressed. Output: 70 - 85 tiles per hour.
Source: CRDI information leaflet

Some soil block presses, presented on the following pages, have been designed with interchangeable moulds, in order to tee able to make smaller bricks, floor and roof tiles for firing. Especially with regard to roof tiles, mention must be made of the CERAMAN and TERSTARAM machines, which can produce 3 or 4 different varieties of roofing tiles.



METALIBEC S.A., Apartado 1 1798, Carrera 68B no. 18-30, Bogota 6, Colombia

First portable manual block press developed in Colombia in 1956. Steel mould box with a piston at the bottom and a lid which is opened for filling. A long metal handle is manually operated, moves the compression piston via a toggle linkage. All connections welded. Block size 29 x 14 x 9 cm. Production of one block per cycle, 40 - 60 blocks per hour.
Source: METALIBEC (correspondence)

CTA Triple-Block Press

Centro de Tecnologia Apropiada
Universidad Catolica "Nuestra Se de la Asunci
Casilla de correos 1718

Modified CINVA-Ram, producing 3 blocks per cycle, about 150 blocks per hour. Block size 24 x 1 1.5 x 1 1.3 cm. Source: CTA (correspondence)


Centro de Experimentacion en TecnologApropiada
Apartado 66-F
Guatemala, C.A.

Modified CINVA-Ram to produce hollow blocks (for placement of reinforcing rods in a seismic wall construction). CETA-Ram II produces both hollow and solid blocks, size 32.3 x 15.7 x 11.5 cm, with 6 cm 0 holes. Output same as CINVA-Ram.
Source: CETA information brochures


CRATerre AMERICA LATINA, Apartado Postal 5603, Correo Central, Lima -1, Peru

Manual press on wheels, designed to make specially shaped blocks (single 28 x 28 x 8 cm or double 28 x 12.8 x 8 cm) for earthquake resistant construction. Precompaction by forceful closing of lid and by vertical stroke piston. Side tables for soil mix and finished blocks facilitate handling. Source: CRATerre, France

UNATA C.V., G.V.D. Heuvelstraat 131, B-3140 Ramsel-Herselt, Belgium

UNATA 1003: slightly modified ClNVA-Ram, with a lever that has to be passed from the pressing mechanism to the ejector and vice versa. Output: 70 blocks per hour. UNATA 1004: further modification by reducing the number of manual operations per cycle, cover attached to lever arm, raised mould for easier handling. Output: 100 blocks per hour. Block sizes 29 x 14 x 9 cm. Source: UNATA (correspondence)

DSM Manual Press

La Mnique Ronale
23, rue de la Gare
F-51140 Muizon

Modified CINVA-Ram with cover sliding sideways; lever action for compression and ejection of block only on one side of the machine. Block size 29 x 14.5 x 10.5 cm, output SO to 90 blocks per hour. Source: CRATerre, France, and Bibl. 02.07


M. Klein - MARO Enterprise, 95 bis Route de Suisse, CH-1290 Versoix, Switzerland

Modified CINVA-Ram with sliding cover and one-sided lever operation; assembled only with screws and bolts (easy to dismantle for transports); all moving parts with sealed, greased for life ball bearing; available with double compaction; can also be supplied with a tray for easy filling of mould. Block size 30 x 15 x 10.5 cm, output 60 to 80 blocks per hour. Source: MARO Enterprise (correspondence)

GEO 50

Soci Alpine de Technologies Nouvelles
Rue des Cordeliers
F-05200 Embrun

Manual press developed by ARCHECO (Centre de Terre, 31590 Verfeil, France). Lever action only on one side, double compaction. Block size 29 x 14 x 9 cm, output 60 to 80 blocks per hour.
Source: CRATerre, France, and Bibl. 02.07

ELLSON Blockmaster

Kathiawar Metal & Tin Works Private Limited, 9 Lad Plot, Sadgurunagar, Post Box 202, Rajkot 360 003 (Gujarat State), India

Originally produced in South Africa, this is one of the oldest soil block presses still being produced. It has a lever-linkage toggle mechanism and high compaction is achieved by the forceful closing of the lid and "jumping pull" of the lever. Interchangeable moulds allow for different block, brick and tile sizes. Largest block 30.5 x 22.8 x 10 cm, smallest tile 29 x 14 x 5 cm. Source: Kathiawar Metal & Tin Works (correspondence)

ASTRAM Soil Block Machine

Aeroweld Industries
B9, HAL Industrial Estate
Bangalore 560 037

Manual block press, developed at ASTRA, Bangalore, based on the principle of the ELLSON Blockmaster, but lighter construction. Block size 30 x 14.5 x 10 cm or 23 x 19 x 10cm, output 40 - 50 blocks per hour. Source: ASTRA (correspondence)

T.A.R.A. BALRAM Mud Block Press

Development Alternatives
B-32, Institutional Area
TARA Crescent
New Mehrauli Road
New Dehli-110016

Manual press to make compressed earth blocks. The standard mould produces two conventional sized blocks of 23 x 10.8 x 7.5 cm per cycle. A team of 5 persons can make an average of 1,200 blocks per day. Optional mould of 23 x 23 x 7.5 cm is available. Robust construction with machined and arc-welded steel body. Easily dismantled and maintained.

Development Alternatives provides training at Delhi, Bangalore and field sites to supervisory staff and machine operators. Cost of machine and accessories is US $ 600 [exfaciory].
Source: Development Alternatives (correspondence)

TEK Block Press

Mechanical Engineering Dept.
Faculty of Engineering
University of Science and Technology (U.S.T.)

Sturdier version of the CINVA-Ram, with simplified handling (cover connected to lever), wooden lever (easy replacement) and larger block size (29 x 21.6 x 14 cm). Output 50 blocks per hour.
Source: U.S.T. (correspondence)



Sohanpal Metal Works Ltd.,
P.O. Box 904

Modified CINVA-Ram, designed with the assistance of GATE. Design allows for variable compression ratios. Very robust' overloading impossible, easy transportation, unproved safety measures.
Source: GATE (correspondence)

BREPAK Machine

Concrete Machinery Systems Ltd
Satellite Business Park
Blackswarth Road
Bristol BS5 8AX

Designed at the Building Research Establishment, the machine is based on the CINVA-Ram, but has a compaction pressure 5 times that of the CINVA Ram, achieved by means of a hand operated hydraulic pump, acting through a piston beneath the baseplate of the mould. Block size 29 x 14 x 10 cm, output 30 - 40 blocks per hour.
Source: BREPAK Operators Manual


CLU 3000 Mobile Soil Brick Plant

INTREX GmbH, P.O. Box 1328, D-42477 Radevormwald, Federal Republic of Germany

Designed by CONSOLID AG, CH-9467 Frumsen SG, Switzerland, the mobile plant is an automatic, integrated unit, equipped with a mixer, hopper and 4 station rotating table with hydraulic press for one brick each time. Brick size 25 x 12 x 7.5 cm (slight variations possible), output 350 bricks per hour. Powered by electric motor or diesel engine. Source: CONSOLID information brochure

Both machines on this page are manufactured by:
APPRO-TECHNO, 24 Rue de la Rieze, B-6404 Couvin - Cul-des-Sarts, Belgium
Source: APPRO-TECHNO pamphlets and CRATerre. France

TERSTARAM Hand Operated Press

Based on the design of LA SUPER MADELON (developed at the beginning of the 20th century), which was later manufactured under the name STABIBLOC, also well-known as LANDCRETE, but now considerably modified and improved.. The main advantages are interchangeability of moulds (blocks, bricks, various roof tiles), easy operation and mobility. Maximum block size 40 x20 x 10 cm, common brick size (double mould) each 22.5 x 10.5 x 6 cm, outputs 70 blocks and 180 bricks per hour respectively.


Greatly unproved version of the successful Belgian machine LA MAJO, with semi-automatic compression and ejection of blocks. The moulds are interchangeable for different block shapes and sizes, similar to TERSTARAM, but excluding roof tiles. Outputs range between 200 and 400 blocks per hour. Powered by electric motor or diesel engine.

Both machines on this page are manufactured by:
CERATEC, Rue du Touquet 228, B-7793 Ploegsteert, Belgium
Source: CERATEC pamphlets (and correspondence)

CERAMAN Manual Press

Principally the same as TERSTARAM, but with automatic ejection of blocks. The soil is piled onto the open mould, the cover pushed down with force for precompaction. Compression of bricks is effected by turning and pressing down two lever arms by two men (one on either side). When releasing the pressure, the clamp opens, and the bricks are automatically ejected. Maximum block size 40 x 20 x 10 cm, outputs between 100 and 300 blocks per hour.

CERAMATIC Automatic Brick Press

Greatly improved version of the successful Belgian machine LA MAJOMATIQUE, with 3 station rotating table: automatic precompaction (with cone-shaped roller), compression and ejection. Only two men operate the machine (one for filling soil, one for removal of bricks). Single moulds with blocks of 29.5 x 14 x 7 cm, and double moulds with 22 x 10.7 x 7 cm are available, outputs at least 700 and 1400 blocks per hour respectively. Powered by electric motor or diesel engine.

DSH Hydraulic Press

La Mecanique Regionale, 23, rue de la Gare, F-51140 Muizon, France

Semi-automatic machine designed for transportation with a fork lift. Three station rotating mould system set in motion manually. Standard block size 30 x 15 x 12 cm, output 150 - 180 blocks per hour. Powered by electric motor or diesel engine.
Source: CRATerre, France, and Bibl. 02.07

PACT 500 Mechanical Press

Societe Alpine de Technologies Nouvelles, Rue des Cordeliers, F-05200 Embrun, France

Motorized press (electric motor), equipped with wheels for mobility. Four station rotating table manually set in motion, mechanical compression transmitted by a cam. Largest block size 30 x 20 x 10 cm, output 250 blocks per hour. Source: CRATerre, France, and Bibl. 02,07


GEOBETON ONE, 169 Boulevard Denis Papin, F-53000 Laval, France

Mobile production unit on 4 wheels, incorporating a vibrating sieve, a horizontal shaft mixer, a hopper and a press, all powered by a single diesel engine. Feeding the sieve with soil, water and stabilizer is done manually, the remaining operations function automatically (computer controlled). Block size 29 x 14 x 9 cm, output 320 blocks per hour. Source: CRATerre, France, and Bibl. 02.07


Ets RAFFIN, 700 route de Grenoble, B.P. 9 Domene, F-38420 Le Versoud, France

Integrated production unit on two wheels, equipped with a conveyor belt, mixer, water tank, motor pump and spraying device, hopper and press. The outstanding feature is that the soil is vibrated during compression (dynamic compression), producing superior quality blocks and tiles of various shapes and sizes. Output 250 blocks per hour. The unit has an electric motor, a diesel generator can be supplied.
Source: CRATerre, France, and Bibl. 02.07


Southwest Alternatives LTD, P.O. Box 1363, Corrales, New Mexico 87048

Compact mobile production unit on two wheels, fed and operated manually. The blocks of 30 x 14 x 9 cm are compressed hydraulically. Output about 960 blocks per day. Also manufactured is the Impact 501 which is capable of producing 1440 blocks per day.
Source: Impact information leaflet


The problem of handling heavy blocks and placing them accurately in walls is overcome with simple block clamps that enable a person to lift a block with one hand and place it in line with the adjoining block. The thickness of the steel angle and Tubber pad that hold the block, provides a uniform vertical joint between the blocks, so that little skill is required to achieve accuracy. Two examples are shown here:

· The Multibloc Brepak Block Clamp, developed at the Building Research Establishment, Garston, U.K.

· Terrablock Gripping Tongs, developed by Terrablock, Earth Technology Corporation, 175 Drennen Road, Orlando, Florida 32806, U.S.A.



SENA Mina para Hacer Bloques

Divisie Desarrollo Tecnologico, Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje, Apartado Aereo 9801, Bogota, Colombia

Simple block mould, equipped with a tray for preparing the cement-sandmix. The filled mould is tamped manually and the top surface smoothed with a trowel. The lever is used to lower the cavity inserts and the hollow block is tilted out on a wooden pallet, ready for curing. Source: SENA instruction manual



Estructuras Desarmables, S.A.
Apartado Postal 1669
Mexico, D.F.

Automatic "egg-laying" machine: the raw mix is filled in on one side, the hollow blocks are moulded (under vibration) on the ground and left standing as the machine moves to the next moulding position. Source: BLOKORAMA information brochure


The concrete block machines on this page are manufactured by:
Kathiawar Metal & Tin Works Private Limited, 9 Lati Plot, Sadgurunagar, Post Box 202, Rajkot 360 003 (Gujarat State), India Source: SKAT Working Paper 05/84

Combination Plain and Hollow Concrete Block Machine

A large tray facilitates filling of concrete mix into the mould. The surplus concrete is scraped off and the tamper lid-plate brought down with a few sharp blows to compact the block. The lever is used to eject the block, which is removed on the wooden base plate for curing.



The machine has a mechanical vibrator driven by an electric motor or diesel engine and flat faced drive-pulley (both riot supplied with machine). All operations are manual and simple to carry out. The moulds are interchangeable, producing dense blocks of various shapes and sizes.

ITW 80 B Vibro-Compaction Block Mould

Intermediate Technology Workshops
Overend Road, Cradley Heath
West Midlands B64 7DD
United Kingdom

Portable block mould equipped with vibrator, which works off a car battery (not supplied). Use of mechanical vibration in place of manual tamping saves up to 1 kg of cement for every block. Block size 45 x 23 x 23 cm with 40 % hollow.
Source: ITW information leaflet



CMS Ltd. Satellite Business Park, Blackswarth Road, Bristol BS5 8AX, England

The machine comprises three main parts: the frame, mould box and tamping head with vibrator. The machine is operated by one man: filling vibrating and tamping, ejecting blocks, and moving machine to repeat the cycle. Various hollow and solid blocks can be produced. Source: Multibloc information leaflet



Intermediate Technology Workshops, Overend Road, Cradley Heath, West Midlands B64 7DD, United Kingdom

Detachable vibrator, which works from a 12 volt DC supply (car battery or ordinary battery charger). It can be used to make concrete blocks, tiles, window elements, and any other concrete products, as well as fibre concrete roofing tiles and water pipes. Source: ITW information leaflet


Pneumatic Earth Rammers

Atlas Copco Tools, P.O. Box 100 234, D-4300 Essen, Federal Republic of Germany

Hand-held rammers for high standard rammed earth construction. The rammers require a separate compressor, which supplies 3 litres/sec. (for RAM 06) to 14 litres/sec. (for RAM 30). Source: Bibl. 02.28


ITW/Parry Roof Tile Plants

Intermediate Technology Workshops
Overend Road, Cradley Heath
West Midlands B64 7DD
United Kingdom

Hand powered vibration screeding machine

A variety of roof tile plants is available, depending on the required output: mini plants for outputs of 250 to 500 tiles/week, small-scale industrial plants for 1000 to 2000 tiles/week. The smaller plants are either hand or electric powered, while the larger plants can be semi-mechanized (with handling trucks and solar curing bins). The production procedure is shown in EXAMPLES OF ROOF MATERIALS. Source: ITW information leaflets


Delft Wire Lacing Tool

Materials Science Section, Civil Engineering Department, Delft University of Technology, 4 Stevinweg, NL-2628 CN Delft, The Netherlands

Hand operated device used for tying 2 to 5 mm thick galvanized steel wire around any object, but mainly around bamboo pipes and timber connections. The tool stretches the wire, twists the two ends and cuts off the surplus wire, leaving a 3 cm twisted piece which is bent over or covered with a piece of plastic tubing.

Stretching the wire; Twisting the wire ends; Cutting and removing tool; securing sharp twisted end