HOWTO make your own automated compressed earth brick making machine

Tristan from Open Source Ecology sez, "This comprehensive, user friendly video shows you how to assembly the Liberator CEB Press; the worlds first open source, automated compressed earth brick making machine. Made from $4000 worth of parts, this machine sets a new standard in affordability, allowing users to build almost any type of brick structure out of dirt."

The OSE Wiki page has full instructions for building your own:

CEB Press (Thanks, Tristan!)


  1. Just remember that $4k doesn’t include the tool shop and work space you’ll need to assemble it…

    And just to point out, CEBs are cool and environmentally good, but they are not always a direct substitute for brick or concrete blocks.

      1. Bricks and cement/cinder block are waterproof.  Bricks being transformed through heat and cement through a chemical reaction.  CEBs can tolerate water fairly well, especially if cement is added to the initial mix, but they will eventually crumble if subjected to repeated doses of water.  As far as I know New Mexico is the only state that has building codes that mention CEBs directly:

        Don’t get me wrong CEBs are a great thing if they ever catch on.  Since a lot of the US has historically used timber framed houses it might take a while.  But like the article mentions, basements and foundations are out.  From my understanding their historical use was in less developed nations where most structures are not built with a basement and people are looking for cheap strong shelter.  Once covered with some type of stucco they would be water proof and strong enough to stand up to most weather.   Not to mention the amount of thermal mass you are dealing with.

        1. Hey bcsizemo – I made this video, and I can attest to the water resistance of CEB’s, especially when they are covered in a water/sand/clay slurry mixed with lime. When the lime oxidizes, it hardens and creates an even greater water resistant seal.

          I lived in a CEB house at Open Source Ecology for over 5 months, and there were not any problems with water.

          See this video for more :

          1. Lime does not harden by oxidation.  Slaked lime or builder’s lime is made by burning (calcining) limestone, which is primarily calcium carbonate (CaCO3), in a kiln which drives off CO2, to form quick lime or calcium oxide (CaO). The quick lime is then mixed with water to form calcium hydroxide, Ca(OH)2 . Slaked lime sets by reabsorbing atmospheric CO2 to again form calcium carbonate, (Ca(OH)2 + CO2 → CaCO3 + H2O). This process can take years in some circumstances.

            Additionally, I noticed that the welding in the unit is pretty low grade. Lots of cold welds, lumpy uneven beads, etc. My grandfather, who was a farmer, called this sort of amateur welding “farmer welding”, and he often had to re-weld the same parts eventually. Does this affect long term durability, or does your design process over engineer for the less-than-professional fabricator’s sake?

          2. Thanks for the chemistry lesson sabeletodo. I’m just a fimmaker after all.

            The welding was done by the OSE team who are mostly novices when it comes to fabrication. Whats important, as you say, is to make designs that are novice-friendly. Even imperfect welds are very strong, so appart from the compression chamber and drawer which take most of the wear, imperfect welds are fine.

  2. Before building with CEBs you should check your local building codes. Many are strict and take a long time to catch up with newer methods of construction. You might wind up building something you can’t sell (or worse yet must tear down).

  3. … I can’t get past the fact that they are using the Tristan und Isolde Prelude as the music for this video.  Does this mean that even the best intentions with this machine are doomed to horrible gut-wrenching failure?  In all seriousness… I can’t listen to the voice over because I am listening to the heart wrenching Tristan theme.

  4. Seems like a lot of time, labor, and calories burned to build structures that are ultimately garbage. Time and cost to value just don’t add up.

    1.  You’re right rgrphlps…..its never worth putting any effort into anything. Thanks for the advice.

  5. Us old geezers from Whole Earth Catalog days used to dream to have access to something like this that was called Cinva Ram (go ahead, google it). In those days the expression  “open source” did not exist, so this V4 parvenu :-) can pretend to call itself “first open source”.
    The fact is that Cinva Ram plans were available often for free and making the things without a design-patent licence was allowed.

    My dad built his house with his CR which he had to work hard to be able to afford about 14 years ago, and then in 2010 I used it to build the outside walls in mine (but, moderner as I am, I actually used a composite styrofoam sandwich structure for the house itself). And yes, when we say “we used it to build…”, we mean with our own hands.

    our best mix is about one part portland cement to 25 parts plain dirt, and barely enough water to get the block to hold shape. The walls my dad built have taken all sort of weather all these years and are just fine.

    1. I remember the Cinva ram, I still have a copy of the plans in my shop notes.  They were printed on heavy stock paper and cost about $2.  This is a worthy successor in my estimation.  I’d like to see hackerspaces building these to make them even more available and
      affordable to people who want 2-3 weeks of use from a unit.  I’ll be building them in my community workshop.  Anyone that thinks negatively about this technology isn’t looking realistically at the cost/benefit analysis, and they sure haven’t ever been without a home.

    2. i went ahead and googled it.  very interesting in general.
      oh and lookie what i found:

      very interested in trying out your “mix” someday to build my own yurt foundation, etc

Comments are closed.