CEB Press: Building on RepRap and Arduino

The CEB automation for the Liberator Beta 2.0 open source CEB press builds on other open source projects. We are using: (1), power drivers from the RepRap project for driving the solenoid valves; (2), Arduino as the controller-brain for the brick-pressing logic; and (3), a Ubuntu 8.04 Linux laptop for programming the logic. The advantage of this approach is that utilizing existing modules builds on mountains of prior work and documentation. In the limit of an open source economy – one would in principle be able to take well-documented and available parts, components, and modules to become a Maker of all the surrounding world. This is a deep part of autonomy and of evolution to freedom.

Here is a video on how the different modules are used in the prototype 2 electronics for the CEB press. You can buy the Arduino and the driver from Makerbot Industries. We use Hall effect sensors to detect the position of the hydraulic cylinders.

These electronics are then packaged in a waterproof electrical box:

The drivers are red, and the Arduino is attached below the green breakout board. The design is transparent and modular, and allows for easy access and disconnection of components for trouble-shooting. We will test this in the field shortly, so that our first CEB press product can move out the door.


  1. Edward Miller

    It’s Alive!! It’s Alive!!

  2. Ram

    Wowwwwwww good job guys!!!! Similar architecture can be used to make a tubing or pipe bender, powering a hydraulic press brake or even a stamping press for forming sheet metal.

  3. Richard

    Ram – I like your thinking!

    Possibly a unit could be designed that could have components switched out for these different applications?

  4. Ram

    Hi Richard thank you 🙂 well you can use dies that can be used to bend pipe or tubing or spring steel blanks. Its not really hard as the processes are kind of identical. You do need a multi axis and you can make complex shapes in metal stock.A few examples would be making chassis, suspensions springs, bending work for domestic plumbing and hey even heat exchanger tubing and so on. It would be a real swiss army knife kinda machine. Now sheet metal stamping that is a different ball game. Its very very expensive to stamp sheet metal for ex a single die for stamping out a car hood runs in the millions of dollars. And then you have issues like folds and creases which eats up time and money. Decentralized metal stamping would be quite a revolution and rest assured would ensure the implosion of auto corporations. I wish there were some sheet metal gurus on OSE forum and probably we can successfully design a sheet metal stamping press using structural tubing for the frame and heavy duty high capacity hydraulic cylinders that can be manufactured inexpensively. What can be done is to use the existing stamping press platform(if we get there) and use it as a forging press too. Coming to think of it any process that uses pressing can use that platform and use interchangeable tooling to convert the machine to suit the purpose. This can also apply to every industrial process that require similar machine tool kinematics.

  5. Marcin

    The electronics on the red power boards got fried in testing with the 40 gallon per minute solenoid valves- the power MOSFETs turned out to be an incorrect selection for the application. See the analysis of the problem and solution here –,41238

  6. Ram

    Bummer 🙁 well part of any developmental project is bugs etc. Nice you ordered the new mosfets lets see how they go :-).

  7. […] For the last two months, we’ve been developing and implementing Prototype 2 automatic controls for the open source Compressed Eearth Brick (CEB) press. We had initial results from Prototype 1 controls, without sensors, back in November. This time, the motion is controlled fully by magnetic position sensors, and we added a soil sensor for activating the grate shaker. We’re building on Arduino and RepRap electronics. […]

  8. […] Arduino – the open source micontroller that we are using – is quite flexible, so it was relatively straightforward to program […]

  9. Full Product Release | Open Source Ecology

    […] CEB controls, to beta version product release with manual controls, to the second prototype of automatic CEB controls, to initial results for the automatic machine indicating 13 bricks per minute, and to optimization […]

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