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A Dutch Machine that Lays Brick like an Unrolled Carpet

27 January 2011 5,626 views 2 Comments

Every once in a while I like to find out about a new way to use a very old material, like brick for instance. Human beings have been working with brick at least since the times when the flooding of the Euphrates might engender the total destruction of the walls Gilgamesh built around his city, so the material definitely qualifies as ancient.  And I found out about a rather interesting way that a Dutch company, Tiger Stone, has been laying brick: they are rolling roads out like carpet.

I have no idea why the company is called Tiger Stone, since they manufacture neither stones nor tigers.  They produce machines that can enable three men to pave a 6 meters-wide street without bending over.  The machine moves slowly and quietly on an electrical crawler – it’s not in any way remotely like a tiger.  Well, I suppose that it has some black and yellow stripes painted on it so maybe that’s where the name came from. Apparently there is also a gemstone called a tiger stone, which according to one hastily googled website encourages the following attributes, which admittedly seem much more appropriate: patience, focus, determination, moving slowly, and alertness.

Image courtesy www.psfk.com

Image courtey www.siddhshree.com

What is amazing about the machine is that it paves the entire street, from curb to curb including edge finishing, and it only takes five minutes to learn how to operate. Tiger Stone uses gravity to lay the bricks, which land directly in a pattern on the road. The road is immediately finished.  Sensors detect and follow the curbs and the size of the road is adjustable, so that paving less than six meters wide can be laid.

Workers walk behind the machine loading bricks according to pattern.  The shelf is at waist height behind the machine, so the people who are paving the road never bend down to pick up any bricks.  Bricks are moved over to the Tiger Stone using mini-loaders, and then people hand-place them in the top of the pusher.

Images courtesy Tiger Stone

The machine allows one to three workers to lay at least 300 square meters in one day, whereas a conventional paver lays about 75.  I like that roads paved with bricks are permeable to water, so they reduce runoff, and I think roads installed with masonry units tend to look quite nice.  I recently heard somewhere (read: just made this up) that in the Netherlands there are strict rules about recycling building materials, so the fact that reclaimed brick could be used to build roads out on the polders probably provided the inspiration for this machine.


I’ve filed this machine in the Earth category because it deals with bricks, which are made from earth, more or less, like most things if you think about it.



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