Most all of our early prototype blocks were made from plywood. We had chosen plywood because it is a very easy material to work with, it is relatively inexpensive, and it is quite strong. We received a lot of inquiries from people that wanted to buy plywood blocks and build with them. However, manufacturers and potential investors felt that production costs, block size limitations, and the fact that plywood only has around 50% of the strength in tension compared to “same-sized” pieces of dimensional lumber to be the biggest deterrent to being commercially manufactured.
Based on all of the feed back we received we are now in the process of producing prototype Zipblocks out of ordinary 2×4′s.
Here are a few key features of our 2×4 Zipblocks:
- These blocks act like extremely long cinderblocks.
- Construction costs for a concrete block wall are approximately 60% for labor, 25% for concrete block, 15% for other materials such as mortar and reinforcement. Source article. —- We estimate construction costs for 2×4 Zipblock wall construction to be 85% for block, 10% for labor, and 5% for other materials such as glue and nails. Note that the labor costs are 50% less than that of a concrete block wall. If one takes into account the costs per square foot of wall and raw materials cost, the net result will be that 2×4 Zipblock wall structures will cost about the same as cinder block structures. Zipblock structures can be built much faster though and the walls are much easier to finish out.
- Wall fabrication with Zipblocks is much faster because blocks can be placed rapidly, blocks are larger, no need to wait on mortar curing/drying.
- Concrete blocks are not very green, they are extremely energy intensive to make and transport.
- Wooden 2×4 Zipblocks are green in that they are lightweight and manufactured out of wood, a sustainable resource.
- Wooden 2×4 Zipblocks are as easy to assemble as toy-construction-bricks. Unlike cinder blocks, no skilled labor is needed for wall assembly.
- Perfectly straight walls are easy to produce as 2×4 Zipblocks naturally form straight walls.
- 2×4 Zipblocks are made from wood, they are naturally insulative.
We strongly feel that once tested and certified for building, that Zipblocks will be a great alternative to cinder blocks. Granted cinder block walls reinforced with concrete and rebar will be able to support much heavier loads, but where lighter loading conditions are present, like in residential home construction, 2×4 Zipblocks will be very appealing in that they will enable:
- Labor savings – No skilled labor needed for wall construction.
- Tornado/Hurricane resistance – Walls will have a nominal 3 inch thickness of solid wood.
- Strength – Walls built out of 2×4 Zipblocks will be vastly stronger than generic “stick-built” walls. Wall sections are fully interlocked and nailed together.
- Time savings – Drop blocks into place and build walls instantly.
- Energy Savings – Wood is a natural insulator. *Presumably wall cavities would be filled with foam.
Shown below are a few pictures of our 2×4 Zipblocks. Within the next month or two we will be constructing an 8 by 10 foot utility building out of these blocks. When we build this demo building we plan to film its assembly and take pictures so that we can show people just how easy it is to work with 2×4 Zipblocks. We will post pictures and updates here as well.
The above image shows to interlocked eight foot long 2×4 Zipblocks.
The core concept for these blocks is to stack blocks about eight feet high, drop studs down between the lugs, and then use a nail gun to lock them into place. The above picture shows a single stud inserted between two lugs. Up to three studs can be inserted between each lug.
The above picture simply shows to wooden cinder blocks (2×4 Zipblocks) laying side by side.