Of course the very first thing we did was test it for supporting weight.
It was quite a day.
Remember we started off with a trailer load of number three thru number seven plastic from the recycling center. It turns out we had a lot of number one and it is more difficult to work with. We discovered that number five was great. We didn’thave any number six and seven, what we eventually want to use for the blocks. Numbers one and two are valuable for recycling. They give value to our blocks that isn’t desireable or necessary. As it has been pointed out to me by others there are those out there that would love to find neatly bundled blocks worth thirty or so cents per lb at the street level recyclers.
We first tried to compress a block and then install the wire into the mold to secure the block. That didn’t work. Then we tried to install the wire without thinking it all through. That worked better but it wasn’t any good. either. The old adage about “learning more from our mistakes than our successes” is gospel when it comes to projects like this.
We learned a couple of things with those mistakes. We needed to add more plastic to the mold to make a more dense block. We also made up the rod I designed for tightening the wire. That and making the loops in the wire at the ram end of the mold enabled us to tighten the wire very tight easily.
The trick to tighteing the wire is a loop big enough for the tightening tool to pass through. The trick to the tightening tools is the slot in the end of the tool. Basically the way it works is the tool is slid through the loop to a point about four inches after the wire has been pulled hand tight. The groove end is placed on the wire and then the loose end is folded over the handle of the tool. The tool pulls the wire through the loop with a lot pressure when the tool is pushed over the loop.
It’s so simple. Yet it’s so efficient.
The finished block is a nominal 8″ X 8″ X 16″. I beat it with a hammer, bounced it around. I like it. Then we drove the pickup up on it to see how it handles weight.
I’ll be the first to admit that the block is one of those things where beauty can only be in the eye of the beholder. For me it is beautiful. That’s because I see a solution to two problems facing us today. Plastic pollution is a worldwide issue. Another world wide issue is affordable shelter. This block addresses both of those issues, it takes trash plastic and makes it into an affordable alternative building material.
I have proven I believe that this block can be produced in the third world’s worst circumstances.
Now I want to take it further.
I want to see a manual model of this machine that is self contained and built for durability. I want to see that machine manufactured and distributed everywhere alternative housing is needed.
I want to see another model of this machine that is automated for use in the industrialized world.
I would love to be part of all of the above and more. But for me to do so is going to require financial assistance. Any ideas for that kind of help is appreciated.