1900: First Commercial Process for Manufacturing of Concrete Blocks
Innovation: First Commercial Process for Manufacturing of Concrete Blocks
By: Harmon S. Palmer
Masonry has been used in Architecture since early Greek and Roman times and has shown its strength and durability though the still standing Roman and Greek ruins. The introduction of the first concrete block, or concrete masonry unit, in 1882 led to a different technique that could be used for building. In 1900, Harmon S. Palmer patented the first commercial machine that could be used to create concrete masonry units, CMUs. The concrete blocks that Harmon’s machine produced were composed of Portland cement, aggregates, and water and were 30’x8”x10”. Since the blocks were so large, they had to be set in place by a hand cranked machine. However, with the scarcity of other resources and the cost of materials at the time, concrete blocks became the main source of building materials and the industry grew rapidly. The creation of the commercial process for manufacturing concrete blocks has led to the employment of concrete blocks for many different architectural and engineering functions since CMUs can last long periods of time, are energy efficient, require minimal upkeep and are fire and rot resistant.