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Earthbag Building & Other Natural Building Methods

Star Top CEB Presses

Star Top Compressed Earth Block Presses

Star Top Compressed Earth Block Presses


Compressed earth blocks (CEBs) have countless uses and come in dozens of shapes (many more than shown here). They are commonly used for residential and commercial structures, earthquake resistant structures, privacy walls, columns, bond beams, pavers, planters, stairs, etc. For instance, you could make CEB columns on your house and privacy walls and stack earthbags between. (See Confined Earthbag.) Right now I’m making an outdoor oven with CEBs. The possibilities are endless.

Star Top Construction and Blockprasan Co., Ltd. manufactures very high quality compressed earth block presses in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand. When you look at the ¾” (2 cm) thick steel parts, it sure looks like these machines would last well over 100 years with continual use. Note: I am not paid in any way for promoting these presses. I’m very impressed with their ruggedness and quality and would like people to know about their products. In fact, I’ve admired them for about 4-5 years and have finally got around to telling people about them.

Many people know about the Aureka presses made in India. Here’s a brief comparison:
Star Top Standard press makes 10 types of blocks and costs $800 US.
Star Top Hitop press makes 30 types of blocks and costs $900 US.
Aureka 3000 multi-mould manual earth block press as shown here costs $X [cost not available yet, but it's roughly twice the cost if I remember correctly]

Star Top also manufactures a whole line of block making equipment, including hammermills to pulverize soil, mortar mixers to mix the soil with cement, and machine and hand-operated block presses. I’m guessing there are several thousand small shops in Thailand with a similar set of machines. They quoted us $4,171 for the whole set of machines to make blocks by hand and $8,843 for the machine operated set that makes two blocks at a time.

Sample CEB Block Shapes (many more available)

Sample CEB Block Shapes (many more available)

Note the holes in the CEBs. Rebar is inserted through the blocks and then the holes are filled with cement grout. There is no mortar between this type of CEB.

Star Top website
Star Top Technology
Phone in Thailand: 034-2679534
Email: startop@blockprasan.com
Cost of CEBs at Phu Phan Research Center: 23 cents
Standard size of CEBs: 12.5x25x10 cm high (you can make other sizes)

Update: This video shows how the press works. It’s actually a competing brand made by K. Thai Machinery Company that looks and operates virtually the same way.

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30 Responses to “Star Top CEB Presses”

  1. We are sorry for the past. From now let’s ensure we will reply because we have reply to all email.

  2. Dear Owen Geiger,

    Thank you for your article that about us.

    I’m Thanitcha from Startop Interlocking Brick Co.,Ltd (Old name: Startop construction and blockprasan Co.,Ltd) Now, you and who interested in our product can contact our at “startop@blockprasan.com” or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/startop.interlockingbrick because If you call to company, I am afraid that my English listening skills make we conversations not clear. I suggest to send email or Facebook.

    And can visit and subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrFXLgaumoJt-bzR-fmROSQ

    Best regards,
    Thanitcha

    Startop Interlocking Brick Co.,Ltd.
    Production and distribution of Interlocking Brick Making Machine, Mixer Machine, Crusher Machine (soil, stone, red earth etc.) and production the machine according to customer requirements. All of parts of the machines produce by us. To ensure the quality. Export to overseas such as US, Nigeria, Ghana, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia etc.
    http://www.blockprasan.com E-mail: startop@blockprasan.com
    http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrFXLgaumoJt-bzR-fmROSQ

  3. Rob Friedman says:

    AggreBind can be used for CEB. Please see our Protocol for Brick, Block, Paver Making at http://aggrebind.com/about/blocks/protocol-for-brick-block-paver-making/ Also, AggreBind can be used in place of cement or with cement. Please see our Polymer Modified Concrete Presentation at http://aggrebind.com/about/specialty-applications/polymer-modified-concrete/.
    AggreBind is an environmentally friendly, water based cross-linking styrene acrylic polymer. It remains fully traceable after installation providing excellent quality controls. AggreBind is supplied as a liquid concentrate for dilution with water (even sea water providing the salt content is less than 4%). In its undiluted liquid state, will withstand at least five (5) freeze-thaw tests and retain its chemical properties. The stabilizer, when cured, has a temperature tolerance range from -57ºC to + 163ºC, -70ºF to + 325ºF, Highly resistant to water penetration and damage from acids and chemicals. Water resistant benefits offer an additional protection for the reinforcing materials. Curing time is 28 days at 15C. The strength curve is almost identical to concrete. AggreBind remains flexible after curing. AggreBind is compatible with cement, sand, aggregate and virtually all mine waste materials. Subject to laboratory testing, AggreBind will provide significant benefits to concrete formulations without any increase in cost to the final product. Supplied in 1000 ltr totes and 205 ltr drums. AggreBind has a 10 Year Product Guaranty and UV-resistant tested to 12 years. The unique AggreBind polymeric formulation is classified as non-hazardous. AggreBind is available in white that dries clear and in a wide range of colors.
    In many markets we are priced less than cement.

  4. Rob Friedman says:

    Hi Owen,
    I saw your blog and Maxim Kar asked about AggreBind. AggreBind is not an enzyme product. AggreBind is a complex cross-linking styrene acrylic polymer with tracers used for making roads, blocks, bricks and pavers. It is available in many colors including white/natural and black.
    Thanks for your good work with CEB.
    Best regards,
    Rob Friedman
    President of AggreBind

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Thanks for the feedback. So your product is suitable for making CEBs? How does the price compare to cement? This could make a good blog topic.

  5. Lisa says:

    That is a really cool press and a very intriguing way of building. I love it!

  6. Ken Corpron says:

    Thanks for the interesting posts on CEB’s. We are planning to build a home and are interested by this as an alternative to conventional construction materials. I would like to ask for one clarification – you refer to a “horizontal” CEB press in some of your posts. Looking through the brochure from Startop company, they mention two models that apply the compression from the side, rather than from the bottom to the top – would those be “horizontal” presses? They are the models they describe as “compressed on the side” priced at 37,500 Baht and “briquette machine curved” priced at 45,000 Baht. Would blocks made by sideways compression tend to have less problems of uneven height than ones compressed from bottom to top? I suppose they could have problems of uneven widths but that would presumably be less troublesom than uneven heights.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Yes, that sounds like a horizontal press. Thanks, I hadn’t seen that in their brochure. If so, that would create blocks of perfectly uniform height. That’s way more important that slight variation in width (which doesn’t hurt anything). So this would solve my number one complaint of CEBs — inconsistent block height.

  7. Maxim Kar says:

    Dear Owen,
    Thank you so much on this post. We are about to order two machines from Malaysia from a a company called Safido Handan. They are VERY expensive and little mold option.
    I am a big fan of CEB and I like to build houses with this technology for low income families. We are a charity that helps poor with housing. we desperately need a better system than our current kiln brick sytem.
    I was looking for another soil stabilizer instead of cement. I have found a company called Aggrebind. Do you have any comment on polymer stabilizers? Please tell me your ideas?

  8. Manop says:

    Are 3 storey structures possible with the type of blocks that the startop press can make?

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Sure. You could go much higher if you wanted. The main disadvantage is getting all the blocks the same exact size. Sometimes the blocks are slightly off and it’s tedious keeping the courses level. That’s why I did the post about horizontal CEB presses, because that type of machine makes them all the same exact height. I’d love to know if Star Top makes a horizontal press. (I haven’t seen one in their literature.)

  9. Lakshman says:

    I want to buy a compressed earth block machine – hydraulic operated one. I am located in Bangalore province of India. Please let me know the contact point in India to buy the machine. Could you please provide me the details.
    Thanks and regards,
    Lakshman
    laxmanhal@rediffmail.com

  10. Njume Stephen says:

    I stumbled on your wonderful Star Top Compressed Earth Block Presses whilst searching for one on the internet and I immediately fell in love with them. They are the best in terms of quality and price combined I’ve come across so far.Thank you for making such a nice product affordable to us in the developing countries.

    Please, let me know as soon as you can how much it will cost to ship one of your presses to the US and to Cameroon. I am a Cameroonian but I have a brother in the US who will buy one for me. Thanks.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      We’re just reporting on good ideas. You’ll have to contact the company directly for details. This may be difficult due to the language barrier. They may not answer emails in English.

  11. evenstill says:

    Owen,

    It sounds like maybe you have one of these, is that correct? If so, can you please inform us where and how you procured it (including contacts etc.) so we can perhaps get one too?

    Thanks,
    ~ evenstill

    • Owen Geiger says:

      No, I don’t have one. This is the basic kind used by many CEB cottage industry businesses in SE Asia (thousands?). You’ll have to contact the company directly using google. It’s better to call. They probably won’t answer email (it’s a cultural thing). You may need to hire a local translator.

  12. CALAFELL says:

    We Want a partnership with blockprasan.We CAN MEET on Thailand on December 2011. Our Megabrik soil blocks press are the best hydraulic 30 tons strength. Claude CALAFELL 0034680840023

  13. [...] Owen: So… here’s yet another method of making cast stone-like material from just one material. It’s not geopolymer in the strictest since, but this blog will cover numerous related technologies. Do any readers have access to fly ash from coal plants? It appears Dr. Liu’s bricks are compressed in a CEB press. [...]

  14. Doug Gillespie says:

    Owen:

    If you happen to have contacts at either of these companies in Thailand, could you let them know that there are folks (well, at least 2 of us, anyway) in the US interested in their products. I’ve tried contacting both firms with no results so far.

    Doug

    • Owen Geiger says:

      I have no association with these companies. You’ll have to find someone who speaks Thai contact them. Many Thai companies do not respond to emails that are in English since their English skills are probably lacking.

  15. Kelly Hart says:

    I suspect that cement stabilization is essential with these CEB’s, since without it there would be the danger of the blocks “blooming,” or expanding when they get moist. I know that this is a common complaint made by traditional adobe advocates.

  16. Doug Gillespie says:

    A very timely post, as we were just about ready to order an Aureka block press. At first glance, these do seem perhaps to be built more heavily, and given that customer service will be half a world away that’s very important.

    Thanks!

  17. Shane says:

    Owen,

    I definately want to buy one of these. I will hopefully be moving to the Denver, CO area this summer with a few friends and we are going to build 2 earth bag homes. I can see where these bricks will come in handy for many things. My question is what do I use exactly (and what ratios) to make the bricks?

    • Owen Geiger says:

      I think this brand may be the top CEB press in the world. It’s also very affordable. I’d love to hear opinions from others. It sure seems light-years ahead of the crude Cinva rams (original CEB presses made decades ago and plans are still circulating on the Web).

      These blocks were made with about 14% cement. You’ll have to make samples with your local soils and have them tested in a lab (test various soils to see what’s best). Soil properties vary radically from site to site.

      YouTube has some interesting CEB/earth block videos.

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