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AmerCable Incorporated

 

Articles - Brick Making Basics

 
 

Moulds are made from hardwood some 25mm thick, and for good bricks moulding must take place on a table. The mould must be cleaned prior to use, either by dipping in water or by sprinkling a coating of fine sand on the inside. The tempered clay material is pressed into the mould by hand with any excess skimmed off by sliding a wooden bar, called a 'striker' along the top of the mould.

  Utmost care must be taken when removing wet bricks from the mould or else they will twist. Such hand-operated moulding is still widely practised particularly in rural areas. But huge strides in the conformity and consistency of brick formation as well as big gains in efficiency have been achieved with manually operated and automated brick moulding and cutting machinery.

Before firing, the newly formed green bricks have to be dried slowly and consistently. Failure to dry green bricks properly leads to distortion and cracking. Green brick drying should be carried out on a specially prepared area of drying ground which has been levelled and sprinkled with a layer of sand.

Green bricks are turned out of the mould and onto this prepared drying floor. And then dried slowly until they are dry enough to turn on edge without incurring damage. While drying, green bricks must be protected from direct sunlight by covering with grass, or preferably drying in long low sheds, roofed over with dried grass or other local vegetation. When dry, the bricks are stacked in such a way to ensure good aeration and minimal damage. It normally takes between six to 10 days for green bricks to dry properly. During this period a sample brick can be broken every so often to determine when it has dried through.

The final stage is the firing process, carried out in kilns or in clamps made of the bricks themselves. Both operate on the basis of natural air movement or draught into the respective structure, which is open to the outside atmosphere. Air is forced through the entrances to the firing tunnels, sucked in by the forces and air movements generated by the hot combustion gases inside. Though appearing simple, firing requires skill with the operator carrying out an integrated control of all factors that affect draught.



References

Longland, F. (1983) Field Engineering. Intermediate Technology Publications.

Mason, K. (2001) Brick by Brick. Intermediate Technology Publications.

Wild, A. (1993) Soils and the Environment. Cambridge University Press.

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