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Topic Tag: modular

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Inspired by Precious Plastic's video demonstrations of beam extrusion, I've been studying a project to make use of them as modular building parts based on the Open Source Grid Beam system. Most folks here may already be aware of this, but to provide some background let me note that Grid Beam is the latest incarnation of the DIY building system first called Matrix and devised in the '60s by the grandfather of the Maker movement, Ken Isaacs, and introduced in his book How To Make Your Own Living Structures. It was then adapted by the brothers Phil and Richard Jergensen in the '70s and '80s into a system called Box Beam introduced in the book The Box Beam Sourcebook then revived with the emergence of the Maker movement as Grid Beam. You can get more details on that here. You can see a nice video about the brothers and their use of the system by Kirsten Dirksen here. Grid Beam was originally intended for use with wood and later expanded to include aluminum and square steel tubing. Based on the premise that reuse is always more efficient that recycling, it was intended as an intuitive building systems common folks could easily use to design and build their own furnishings, light structures, and small shelters. It was very popular among renewable energy tinkerers in the late '70s until being pushed aside in popularity by the emergence of extruded aluminum T-slot profiles, which became ubiquitous in industrial automation but has long remained rather expensive.   I believe there is potential to use this with recycled plastic beams and with the US currently suffering both a recyclables glut thanks the current Trade War, and a new wave of Zero-Waste stores emerging and interested in recycled products, there's small business potential in this.. And in the developing countries, the endless array of things that can be made with this add huge value to Precious Plastic shop projects there. <span style="letter-spacing: 0.3px;">But Grid Beam has one big problem. </span>It depends on the drilling of many precisely spaced holes on all sides of beams up to 3m. This is key to the reusability of the beams and other parts. Any error in the center-to-center spacing of the holes accumulates along the length of the beam, making them useless. This has always proven too difficult for people to do themselves and generally demands the use of multi-spindle drill presses costing over US$10,000. Forming them in-place when plastic beams are made is probably not a practical option given that they must be on all sides, calling for a complex mold. This is the chief reason why Grid Beam has never attained the popularity it might have, the Jergensen bros. being the only parts makers and never maintaining consistent production. So I've been looking for a more economical solution to this for some time. Living in the NM desert (for health reasons) I've had trouble finding anyone who can make even the conventional Grid Beam parts for me --since the Jergensens are currently not making them. The basic beam size for Grid Beam is the conventional '2x2' lumber. (actually, 1.5"x1.5" using a 1.5" hole spacing) This is actually a stock size for the manufacturers of recycled plastic lumber decking, so stock material to experiment with is available. It's the hole drilling that makes everything a hassle. At present, CNC machines are competing with the multi-spindle drill presses in cost, But neither is a low cost option suited to the developing world shops. I'd like to hear what others think about this, and what solutions they might have.
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