Hydraform System and history
The Hydraform Interlocking Soil Brick (hydraform brick) is an interlocking earth brick used in many countries for construction purposes. The hydraform brick is made from soil cement which is a mixture of soil, cement and water, and is hydraulically compressed to form a high quality interlocking soil brick. Soil from the building site can be used to manufacture building bricks.
The Hydraform compressed earth brick is very popular due to the cost savings that are involved during the construction process as only around 30% of the structure requires mortar between the bricks. Due to the interlocking nature of the stabilized soil brick, unskilled labour can be utilised in construction thereby empowering rural communities and creating jobs.
The bricks interlock top to bottom and front to back. Brick dimensions are 180 millimetres (8.7 in) wide, 115 millimetres (4.5 in) high and 230 millimetres (9.1 in) long. They weigh approximately 10 kilograms (22lb). Once bricks are manufactured they are “wet cured” for a period of 14–21 days to reach the desired crushing strength of 7Mpa or 7N/mm2.
Hydraform, like all great companies, started business based out of Jochen Kofahl’s garage, back in 1988. Jochen had a dream that high-quality bricks could be created with nothing more than a 20-percent addition of building cement to soil, formed in a machine under hydraulic pressure. That dream gave rise to South Africa’s first brickmaking company that designed, developed and marketed a patented brick-making machine that was truly portable and operated on-site. Just nine months after Jochen started his company, he was joined by business partner, Robert Plattner. Together, they created the M1 machine, which was used to create the very first home built with Hydraform blocks, in Witbank.
The unique interlocking, mortarless design means significant reductions in building costs, and is backed by Agrement Certificate 96/237 that is issued by the CSIR in Pretoria.
Today, Hydraform have developed a range of machines that offer a full turnkey functionality. From their flagship block-making machines, to equipment that produces various types of pavers, rooftiles, soil-sifting rotary screen machines and are used in over 40 different countries all across Africa and the world, and are used to build homes, universities, schools, churches, museums and many other developments.