You’ve got to admit it’s getting better…

It had always been an aspiration to have all of our main parts manufactured under one roof and reduce the number of suppliers… but we still had two key components that would have to be sourced and bought in: the Dickie Bow Tie and the SED (Strengthener Endcap Divider). Could we improve these?

We experimented with an ‘X’ shape to tie the two courses together and it worked perfectly. There were a lot of advantages to this: easy to insert and extract, uses less plastic, can be cut to any length and we could make it at RAM.

The SED was a bit more complex as it performed a number of jobs:

  • Strength to stop the empty block shape being crushed
  • Endcap to attach windows and doors
  • Divider if we wanted to compartmentalise the interior of the wall

It was problematic but we were about to have a bit of luck.

Testing times

Prior to building the first full wall, I attended a number of Innovate UK events and it was at one of these events that I met an engineering student from University of Coventry called Ondrej Ludvik. He was quite taken with the design idea and contacted me in October 2019 to find out how the things were progressing and when I explained that we had manufactured our first components he asked if he could perform structural tests as part of his college dissertation. It was free so why not?

We’d always thought that the empty block could take about one tonne in weight before it would fail and snap, which was really good but was not suitable for putting a heavy roof on… so imagine our delight when the tests confirmed it would take five and a half tonnes. This gave us a lot of design options that we didn’t think we had.

Build that wall (and roof… and floor)

We’d done pretty well up to this point as we had a working wall system that could bear a lot of weight, and could have windows and doors installed into it. If we could put a floor and roof on then we would have a full building made from the same key components, all made in the same location… enter the ‘C’ cap

Richard came up with a simple ‘C’ shape that had a number of uses: it enabled the wall to be laid flat and used as a roof and floor by putting the trim around the wall to form a flat roof. We could also use it as trim round the openings to attach windows and doors so we no longer needed the SED piece and the whole system could be made in-house.

So what can we build?