This our portal to the world of Grid beam people, projects, articles, components, plans, photos, techniques, newsletters and blogs.
Gridbeamers are the Grid Beam Users Group united to build a better world through logical thinking and reuseable parts.
Grid Beam is a reusable structural system that allows you to dream-up and build complex projects faster than any other construction technology that you or I have ever seen!
Phil Jergenson, one of the founders of this system, has an introductory message for you...
My personal junkyard is littered with obsolete welded frames stripped of their component parts, that didn’t live up to my initial expectations. These frames are skeletons without a future. That was before I became a Gridbeamer.
As designers, we all strive to build products that will be relevant 50 years from now. But, since none of us knows what that future will really look like, design flexibility and reusability is essential. You might think of Grid beam as a structural glue that allows us to mix, match and mate different technologies together in new ways. This means that all of the components and custom parts that we make, or purchase and use together, share the same hole spacing as the Grid beam. This creates maximum parts interchangeability and design flexibility.
Since our design group of Gridbeamers began adopting gridbeam building techniques in 1976 from Ken Isaacs book, How to build your own living Structures, we have found that it has dramatically improved our prototyping capabilities. Gridbeamers can take on more challenging ideas with less hesitation. Because now, goofy ideas and "mis-builds" can now be completely disassembled and reused on your newest brainstorm!
We all know that talk is cheap and that ideas are a dime a dozen. How do you separate good from bad ideas? How do you test your idea? How do you actualize your dream?
Only by building it!
A working prototype is proof of clear thinking, or not. After all, nothing beats a real working prototype that you can actually test. A true reality check. (What you are seeing is my daughter's first "blanki house." which she built herself.)
Making your own Grid beam.
One of the neatest aspects of the Grid beam system is just how simple it is. Amazingly, It doesn’t require any special hubs or connectors to make a strong frame. But it involves a little bit of work up front drilling the holes. If you have the patience to drill those holes, you will be rewarded with an amazing building system that’s really fun to use.
Grid beam uses a simple geometry and a repeating hole pattern to create what we call tri-lapping joints or Tri-joints. When three beams are brought together in an xyz axis, (like in a corner) the bolt holes magically line up. Three bolts from three directions lock the materials together, into perfect 90 degree angles, something difficult to achieve when welding. Though clunky looking at first, they add strength and rigidity to projects. Tri-joints can be created anywhere in a frame but usually end up in the corners. The more tri-joints in a frame, the stronger it becomes.
Grid beam can be made of any square stock drilled with our repeating hole pattern on all sides. It is then cut off into modular lengths such as 1 ft. 2 ft. 3ft. And so on. Any square stock can be made into Gridbeam so long as the hole spacing is equal to the width of the material. That’s important because the hole spacing is the key to its structural abilities.
The most convenient sizes of Gridbeam are;
The 1 ½ inch width wood (also known as a 2x2) is the perfect material for furniture and indoor uses.
I like the 1 ½ inch square aluminum tubing is ideal for making vehicles and mobile projects.
The larger 2 inch Telspar© tubing is made of galvanized steel and is ideal for larger outdoor projects.
Our Gridbeamers group have also had many discussions about the Grid beam metric standards but that’s another topic that needs attention. If the component mounting holes were elongated, they could fit both American and metric sizes of Grid beam.
Grid beam frameworks are always square and true and easy to duplicate by anyone, anywhere. This feature could lead to new forms of design collaboration by interest groups. All that’s needed is a photo or two of the project and a pile of grid beam and some bolts. Just count the hole pattern and assemble! You have a duplicate frame! As a bonus, it assembles with ordinary hardware store bolts and nuts. I have an interest in building an open source vehicle that we could co-develop
Now we can create a perfect duplicate frame in California that someone built in Iowa the same day! All one needs is a clear photo or two of the frame. Since Grid beam is cut to standard modular lengths, you know how many holes are on a beam. If you can count then you can build! Assembly is super fast and clean. Its so clean that you can even build stuff in your living room or bedroom if you don’t have a shop. You can even build outside on uneven ground and your frames will be square. Grid beam frames now become the easiest part of a project instead of the hardest.
Other features of the Grid beam system is that it is changeable, customizable and upgradeable and recyclable. We might even call it reprogrammable! With all of those holes, there is a lot of potential for additional components. These include, gearboxes, motor mounts, pillow blocks, bearings and axles that are now very easy to add. If the Grid beam hole spacing doesn’t match component mounting holes, an adaptor plate is created, which has been drilled with the correct hole spacing for both component and Grid beam.
Since Grid beam always creates square frames, it's ideal for machines and drive trains. Since Grid beam has the repeating hole pattern on all four sides, these components can be mounted in any position anywhere in or on the frame. And since the frame is also totally changeable, we have an infinite number of possibilities. This system becomes a technology springboard that allows you to launch projects instantly in any configuration you wish. It’s a low tech system that could create an explosion of applications. It could be considered a technology accelerator. A shape shifter that’s a blast to use.
One of the games we like to play when we build is to see how simple we can make the frame. I have been known to reframe a project more than a dozen different ways, all in one day! Sometimes major frame changes can even happen once your well into the project. No cutting torch and grinders needed here! Just a few wrenches and a nut driver.
After working with this stuff for a while, one begins to accumulate parts with the Grid beam hole spacing. Some parts are from catalogs, sometimes from flea markets. Some parts are pillow-blocks that I elongate the mounting holes to fit the gridbeam holes. Most parts I custom fabricate and drill my own holes. As your stash of Grid beam and compatible parts and grows, so does your construction capabilities. Now lets imagine a few hundred Gridbeamers making components and custom parts that that are all interchangeable.
This means, the more people we can get to build with Grid beam for their special projects, the more applications and custom components they will be creating. If their project turns into a product and they create a demand for it, they can sell those custom parts to other Gridbeamers to use. The more people who use Grid beam and the more they mix and match everyone’s components for their special projects, the more powerful the whole system becomes. And since it’s all open source no single person or company can control it!
Could Grid beaming be the foundation for a whole new industry? We think so.
One of the questions I often get especially from non-builders is why do we drill all the holes in Grid beam if only some of them are used? The answer is, without all of the holes, it has no future. Every traditional machine has a useful lifespan before it is obsolete or worn out. Then it is either buried in the earth or melted and reshaped into more one use stuff. Grid beam is different in that it is extremely repairable and if you do want to take it apart, all the component parts including the Grid beam is ready for a new life solving yet another problem. Also, by drilling all the holes, it forces us to standardize the hole spacing on all of our components. Besides, anyone who ever built anything with an erector set knows why all those holes are there. Another convincing reason of all is that someday the whole system will be drilled with automated equipment anyway.
Another issue that Grid beam might address is insurance liability of products. I believe that in the world of kit cars. Manufacturers are not liable if they provide less than 50 percent of the components in a car. The burden or liability and responsibility is transferred to the owner builder who assembled it. Makes sense to me! In the case of Grid beam, since component manufacturers have no idea how their parts are used, I don’t see how they can be liable. Responsibility would shift to the end user.
Another cool aspect to this system is the fact that we can’t own everything and this system allows one to, lets say, build a tractor with it in the spring to pull a plow. (which you also built) These devices can be taken apart and made into a harvesting device or your lawn furniture (if you want to relax). Grid beam is much greater than the sum of its parts. It empowers and allows us to become better problem solvers, which is one of our human traits. It also allows us to work with our own hands to solve our own problems. This shape shifting feature means your Grid beam projects can save you a bundle of money on all the stuff that you can build instead of buying.
As we move forward in this new Millennium, we are faced with many problems, most of these are because we are still in the dark ages of technology. We have all the pieces of technology to create a sustainable world, even a paradise, but like in a bad dream, we continue to make the same old mistakes over and over. Our energy dependant lifestyle and our total dependence on fossil fuel is endangering all the species of the planet. Is this our legacy? Biology is indeed our destiny, so we must evolve or die.
The only way out of this mess is to begin to prototype a whole new smarter future and at a much smaller scale, this time with people in control of their own technology. We Gridbeamers think that our modular systems approach is the best way to create our common dreams and a way to build a brand new future.
This site is under construction and will always be under construction. It is the nature of this building system. In time it will become fully functional.
Contact me, Phil Jergenson at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 707-459-3959
or my partner and brother, Richard at: email@example.com
or our co-beamer Reinhold at: firstname.lastname@example.org
and Tim: email@example.com
Together we will build a new World!
Copyright © 2007, Phil Jergenson.