Handmade the Traditional Way
Having an intimate knowledge of building materials is crucial for civil engineers. Accordingly, the students of the Dual Studies programme in Civil Engineering became familiarised with bricks as part of their first semester. During a field trip, they had the chance to experience the process of brick manufacturing up close. This is their report.
For us students, field trips are always an exciting addition to lectures and our work with our Dual Study partner companies. They allow us to link the study of civil engineering even more closely with practice and to deepen what we have already learned. During the winter semester 2019/2020, we visited the brick factory in Glindow near Potsdam.
The basic stuff of brick production
After we arrived by bus, we were greeted personally by the manager of the facility. Then we began our tour. First we were shown the mix. As we learned, the location of the brick factory was chosen due to the availability of raw materials in the immediate vicinity and the excellent connections to the waterway network. Clay is the basic stuff of brick production. In addition, other substances such as iron oxides are added to achieve the desired colours of the bricks. After crushing and mixing the raw mass while adding water, the bricks are shaped. We were also allowed to try our hand at this physically demanding activity.
Now into the oven
After the raw brick mass was formed using the wooden molds and excess material was removed, the bricks are dried in the corresponding chambers, which we also got to observe. The next station we visited was the ring furnace. As the name suggests, the furnace consists of several ring-shaped combustion chambers. The dried bricks are stacked in these before firing. After the chambers have been filled, the actual firing process begins. Once this process has ended, the bricks are “ready to use” – after a sufficient cooling time – in a wide variety of construction projects.
Manufacture of old brick formats
In the factory we visited, the bricks are still produced by hand, mostly for listed buildings. The museum we visited after the tour, set up in a lookout tower in front of the factory premises, offered a deeper insight into the history of the factory. The excursion to the brick factory was really educational for us students. The manufacturing process was most striking of all – the bricks in this factory are basically still produced exactly as they were hundreds of years ago.
Written by Dario Bandov, Martin Becker, Isabell Liewald, Vivien Neumann und Zhirayr Shultse