What are wire cut bricks?

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Wire-cut bricks are pieces of cured or fire-baked clay that have been molded into brick shapes with the help of a wire cutter of some kind. The simplest cutters are little more than strands of wire that people press into large mounds of clay to divide them into smaller pieces. However, there are usually a number of options, including wire “cages” and cheese-cutter-type grids that can be pressed over wet clay to form it before it has a chance to harden. Discounting bricks made and formed entirely by hand, wire cutting is one of the two main means of brick making. It is very efficient and, when done properly, will produce uniformly sized bricks; depending on the clay being used, however, bricks made this way tend to be more porous and weaker than those made by pressing the clay into molds or forms. They also often have a rough edge or very noticeable finish, due to friction and tension as the yarn is pulled across the surface. Sometimes this texture is desirable, but not always.

Basics of brick making

There are two main methods most manufacturers use to shape bricks in bulk, namely pressing and wire cutting. The pressing method creates a brick by pressing clay material into a mold or brick shape and applying pressure. This method tends to be quite time-consuming and expensive, although it usually produces very strong bricks of uniform size and shape.

Wire-cut bricks, in contrast, are bricks formed by cutting a brick-sized piece of clay with a wire tool. After the clay is made into a large rectangular piece of material, it is sliced ​​into several brick-sized pieces by pushing wires through the clay. Cutting the clay into wire-cut bricks leaves a noticeable mustache-like appearance on the cured surface of the brick. The slicing procedure creates a rough texture as the wire is pushed and forced through the material.

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Types of wire tools

Manufacturers who use the wire cutting method often have a few options when it comes to tools. Bricks are often formed as a large block of brick material and pushed through a die onto a cutting tray. Once pushed through the sizing die, the block is sliced ​​into several brick-sized pieces, forcing a large tool, similar to a cheese cutter, through the block of material. It is also possible to use a tool that looks more alive with a braided grid or a large screen that is pressed onto a damp mound of clay, and even simple strands of measured wire can be used to cut individual pieces.

The process as a whole

When the bricks are sliced ​​by the wire, it pulls on the edge of the brick, tensing the clay and creating tiny cracks in the surface of the stretched material. As the wire-cut bricks are fired, a process that heats the bricks and leaves them in a permanent shape, the moisture in the clay is baked and the clay molecules heat together and strengthen into a long-lasting building product. The streaks on the surface of the baked brick separate into cracks and crevices. This feature is what gives bricks the visual appeal that many builders and homeowners look for in a finished look.

Advantages and disadvantages

One of the biggest advantages of the wire cutting process is that it produces a much more affordable product; Bricks made this way are easier to produce, require less material, and also take much less time to create than a pressed version of brick. A typical clay block will yield six to nine bricks once cut and cured. Teams of four or five typically make bricks with a single brick-making machine. Typically, two people place the clay brick into the machine’s hopper, while another person adds the appropriate amount of water to the mixture. Another person pushes the material into the molding chamber and forces the brick out of the molding die and onto the cutting table, and then the bricks are dried and usually fired.

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Not everyone likes the rougher look of wire bricks, and their more porous nature means they aren’t necessarily suitable for all types of construction projects. Circumstances that require more strength can use wire bricks as a decorative outer layer to give the appearance of a brick structure but a core made of something else.

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