Gridbeam: The Ultimate in Recycling, Reuse and Downloadable Design

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We often look at things such as flatpack or downloadable designs as methods of moving ideas instead of stuff. We have looked at recycling and repurposing and reusing things in different ways. But the Unclutterer reminds us of a fascinating idea from the seventies: building everything out of a standard component that can be assembled and disassembled and redesigned and reconfigured into anything- the Gridbeam.

It is as simple as a 2x2 piece of lumber with a grid of holes in it. But Phil Jergenson, one of the original designers, explains:

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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.

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Indeed, after all of our crazy talk on TreeHugger about CNC machines, downloading designs and shipping ideas all over the world instead of stuff, it turns out that the gridbeamers have been doing it for forty years.

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....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!

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The "tri-joint" always makes a perfectly square, rigid joint, and can be used to build just about anything, (including solar powered cars) depending on the material used to make the gridbeam. And unlike, say Unistrut or KEE Klamp, it is all open source; there is nothing proprietary about a 2x2 with holes in it. Get more information at the Gridbeamers website.

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