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Humongous Wooden Block Installation at Stackt Market a Site to Behold

This year GRIPMetal is honored to be part of the Design Collection @ stackt, the annual art and design festival that brings together thousands of Torontonians – it’s one of over 100 exhibitions and events forming Toronto’s design week, January 22–31, 2021.

Located at Toronto’s innovative stackt market container mall, the GRIPBlock @ stackt Exhibition embodies the spirit of its hosts location, employing resulable and modular bricks to form functional structures that can be repurposed as needed and as creativity demands. Assembled in less than a day from over 2,600 “GRIPBlocks”, the wall is the latest structure – erected by Toronto’s own GRIPMetal Inc. – that are beginning to dot Toronto’s landscape.

The wooden blocks, first employed to create walls and infrastructure for social distancing, are finding their way into downtown restaurants such as Locals Only, and the fantastic curved GRIPBlock walls at Oretta –  both on King St. W. – a mere ten minute walk from the stackt market. The blocks now even surround the company’s head office in Scarborough.

While creating art from building blocks isn’t necessarily new, the stackt market installation is built for both form and function. Part installation, part performance – stackt visitors can watch as this new COVID-safe installation is erected in a matter of hours, and then enjoy the warm, wind-free enclosure while viewing works from some of Toronto’s latest up and coming designers.

The blocks themselves will also serve as a backdrop to original design. While the concepts haven’t been finalized, GRIPMetal hopes the installation can be a fixture at the market through the spring, keeping visitors warm, welcomed and engaged in the best design Toronto has to offer.

About GRIPBlock

GRIPBlock is a revolutionary new mechanically attached CLT block construction technology created by Canadian manufacturing innovator GRIPMetal Inc.  GRIPBlock is used to quickly and easily assemble structures to create new spaces without the use of tools or building expertise.

About GRIPMetal Inc.

GRIPMetal is a Canadian innovation firm whose patented metal attachment technologies have been used worldwide for over twenty year in industries ranging from automotive to construction. GRIPMetal is a part of the NUCAP family which also includes NRS Brakes and SpiderTech For further information on GRIPMetal, visit

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GRIPMetal Helps Keep Canada’s Bars and Restaurants Open With Walls Made From Wooden Bricks

Toronto-based GRIPMetal is helping save Toronto bars and restaurants by creating social distancing walls using a 100% Canadian-made CLT they call GRIPBlock.

Bar and restaurant venues that survived the initial lockdown have been fortunate to enjoy an unusually rain-free summer and the ability to expand onto streets, sidewalks and adjoining properties to seat patrons while maintaining social distancing.  But just as the economy is returning to normal Toronto has been slammed by a second wave of Covid-19 cases and a fast-approaching winter season.  For businesses to stay open they’ll have to continue relying on outdoor spaces to seat enough people.

Enter GRIPBlock. These innovative wooden bricks are light and durable, meaning they can be delivered and assembled quickly and at low cost. Unlike most temporary structures, walls made with GRIPBlock block the wind and retain warmth, helping bars and restaurants stay open – and in business – longer, and well into the winter season. And while the walls are structurally sound, with shear strength that makes them impossible to knock over, at the end of the season they’ll be easy to disassemble and take down.

At the heart of the GRIPBlock is a mechanical attachment technology called GRIPMetal, hundreds of harder steel teeth that allow the blocks to be stacked and connected, forming an extremely rigid and strong structure. GRIPMetal has been used for over twenty years in the automotive industry to enhance the strength and bonding of automotive parts, and more recently the blocks have been employed by Toronto schools to build classrooms in gyms and cafeterias, providing desperately needed space just in time for the return of the school year.

Now, working with restaurant chains such as Gabby’s, GRIPMetal is hoping their blocks are just what the doctor ordered for an ailing hospitality industry.

If you’d like to see the new blocks in action, visit the Gabby’s at Parkway Mall in Scarborough this Friday where GRIPMetal will be building their social distancing walls on the Gabby’s patio.

For more information on GRIPBlock and the GRIPMetal line of products contact Mark Lavelle, Global Sales Director (416) 627-4632

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NUCAP Industries Inc. and Rotho Blaas Srl Announce Commercial Agreement for Supply of GripMetal™ Technology to Timber Construction Industry

NUCAP Industries from Toronto, Ontario, Canada sign with Rotho Blaas SRLCORTACCIA, BOLZANO, ITALY (CNW Group/NUCAP)

NUCAP Industries Inc. and Rotho Blaas SRL are proud to announce that they have today signed a commercial agreement for the supply of GripMetal™ technology and products to the timber construction industry

TORONTO, June 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ – GripMetal™ is a disruptive surface modification technology that improves the performance of metals in a variety of applications and in industries as diverse as Construction, Automotive, Aerospace, Electronics, and Heat Transfer.  The first successful application for GripMetal™ technology was in automotive brake pads.  Sold under the NRS brand, GripMetal™ technology increases the bond strength of the friction to the steel backing plate and eliminates the need for traditional adhesives, resulting in improved safety and double the product life.  Continuous testing and validation by top global automotive brands has resulted in over a billion brake pads utilizing NRS technology over the past 20 years. 

Rotho Blaas is a global leader in products related to Timber Construction.  After a year of development, Rotho Blaas has just launched several products that incorporate GripMetal™ technology.  These products will be marketed by Rotho Blaas on a global basis under their SHARP METAL™ brand for the Timber Construction Industry. The companies are confident that these products are just a start for a full product range that will encompass GripMetal™ technology.  SHARP METAL™ Products are designed to improve the stiffness of timber structures and the strength of connections.  The result will be taller, more efficient, and more creative timber structures. Rotho Blaas is pursuing code approval (ETA & ICC) with the University of Innsbruck to make the product widely accessible.

We look forward to a long and successful relationship between our two companies as we together bring added value to the Timber Construction Industry.

For more information visit: and


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GRIP Metal Building Block Design Supports Housing, Hospitals, Shelter Projects and More LEGO-like building blocks offer fast assembly and low cost

(Toronto, Canada) — GRIP Metal has invented and launched a state-of-the-art building block ideal for small homes, affordable housing projects, emergency relief shelters, intensive care units and more. The new GRIP Block is a CLT (Timber Cross Laminated Block) that allows for quickly assembly and disassembly of structures while offering outstanding strength and durability.

“Affordability and environmental impact are two key concerns for home and commercial builders today, and GRIP delivers on both fronts,” said Mark Lavelle, Global Sales Director for GRIP Metal. “With its strength and versatility, the GRIP Block is the perfect solution for smaller homes, hospitals, shelters and more. It takes LEGOs to the next level.”

GRIP Metal recently collaborated with Toronto architect Tye Farrow to use the blocks’ technology to create easy-to-deploy ICU wards, which can readily be built and scaled for COVID-19 patients. Furthermore, the GRIP Strips used in construction are now being carried by Rothoblaas, the world’s largest timber company.

GRIP Block uses an innovative  mechanical attachment technology in place of industrial  adhesives to create an equally strong,lightweight and durable building material; it is comprised of layers of cross-laminated timber that are pressed into modules, which can be used for a variety of building purposes.

Similar to LEGO blocks that hook together, the GRIP Timber Cross Laminated Block makes it easy to construct strong, lightweight living and working structures without requiring skilled labor.

The blocks, which are similar in size but distinctly lighter than concrete block, include internal cavities for electrical and mechanical needs. They can integrate with GRIP Metal flooring, which provides in-floor heating and durability, in building projects.

About GRIP Metal:

Featuring precisely designed hooks that give designers, engineers and scientists a brand-new foundation for design and manufacture of complex forms in composites, GRIP Metal transfers the core strengths of a metal substrate to other materials. Consisting of a consistently shaped field of micro-scaled hooks that are formed onto ultra-thin gauge sheet metals, using robust mechanical adhesion to overcome the challenges of bonding different materials together. Potential applications range from strengthening thin-gauge composite materials in papers, woods and plastics, to large- scale use in construction technologies and materials. For more information, please visit

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Toronto architect Tye Farrow has developed an ICU design with a striking, fast-assembly innovation at its core.

Under the strain of a quick-moving pandemic, our healthcare systems have never been more scrutinized, down to the very details of how care is delivered: EMT professionals, doctors and nurses are finally seen as heroic, the dearth of PPE supplies are a global concern, the underfunding of seniors’ facilities a moral and ethical scandal. We need to address the very infrastructures holding up our social safety nets – but what about the spaces themselves? How are hospitals, and particularly the way they are designed, contributing to healing, or not, in this time? How can rapidly deployable, modular hospitals present some clues as to how we can build better healing spaces from here on out? From Mass Design Group to Carlo Ratti Associati, new guidelines and models have been proposed. And now, Toronto architect Tye Farrow has also come up with an ICU concept that could influence how we design these spaces for salutogenic results.

“The under-riding value is how can environments cause health,” Farrow says. The architect has designed numerous medical facilities around the world that integrate biophilic design; one of his firm‘s most notable projects is the Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga, Ontario, where Douglas fir glulam beams take on the appearance of trees soaring through the atrium. He has spent decades rethinking what the hospital experience could be and how better-designed spaces can mentally and emotionally supercharge us, an expertise he has recently honed with a Master of Neuroscience applied to Architecture and Design at the University of Venice.

His Solace Rapid Assembly – High Performance Covid-19 Inpatient Bed Solutions system is designed to battle staff burnout and to elevate patients’ moods and capacity for healing; it proposes a “faster, cheaper, smarter, safer” response to “some of the temporary hospital solutions we have seen built to date globally.” Farrow cites the shipping containers being used in Italy – “it’s a good solution, but it’s not good for medical staff” who need more space to work around the patient – and the tent hospitals going up in convention centres, with no access to natural light, in New York and Calgary. “Maybe they’re great for the short-term, but history has shown us there’s the first wave… and the second wave is worse.”

At the core of his ICU unit design is a 12-bed ward measuring 15 by 30 metres. The patient rooms, where party walls feature small windows for nurses to keep an eye on adjacent units, wrap around three walls; at the centre is a medical team zone and along the fourth wall are the staff support areas. At the centre, the ceiling is lifted to create a lantern volume lined with a four-sided clerestory window. “In this way, we could give the light and the change of day to the staff, which is really important,” says Farrow. For patients, being able to perceive shifting light conditions – “a passing cloud, a sudden rainstorm, the warm colour of afternoon light, gentle moonlight or the early-morning rising sun” – is also beneficial. Just as medical staff are enriching the oxygen for COVID-19 patients, this type of design that responds to circadian rhythms would also enrich the environment itself and help alleviate some of the stress felt by medical staff working in the most pressurized conditions imaginable.

The basic building block of this 12-bed ICU ward – which can be multiplied for units of 24 beds, 36 beds, 48 beds and upwards – is just as innovative: Farrow has helped to develop the Grip Timber Cross Laminated Block (GTCLB). It is made up of layers of cross-laminated timber (the wood offcuts of shipping skids) which are adhered together with very thin strips of a “metal velcro” – an innovation of a glue-free brake pad created by the Canadian company Nucap – and stamp-pressed into modules. Grip metal bonds easily to a variety of sheet materials, from plastic to wood, and in the case of the bricks, also allows them to hook onto each other to create a “massively strong solution,” Farrow says, “It’s the equivalent of a concrete block in section and size, but lighter – which doesn’t exist in the world right now.” A single press can make 1,000 in an hour, and they can be stacked, into walls or furniture, without the use of skilled labour. Farrow likens them to Lego for their ability to be quickly assembled and disassembled.

Once they are stacked, a vertical tie rod secures them together from the top to the bottom of the wall. The 25-centimetre-long blocks also have internal cavities, like a typical concrete block, allowing any mechanical or electrical conduits to be run through them. In the ICU unit, the walls would be made of this block and covered in fibre-reinforced panels that meet healthcare-setting requirements – though he notes that the wooden blocks look great unfinished – and the floor would be covered in a grip-metal flooring system that can integrate heating systems and withstand heavy foot traffic.

At the moment, Farrow is in discussions with health authorities in Israel, the U.S. and Canada, and applying the block innovation to other potential uses. “Interestingly the uptake isn’t only for the ICUs,” he says, “but in also helping solve some of the long-term-care home challenges.” The building block technology could also help provide affordable housing both in the city and in northern communities. “Northern First Nations communities that have a sawmill can now produce their own block, by simply buying the grip strips and having a press, and their communities can build their own homes.” He cites other ways that the block can help in rapidly deployable architecture: for instance, laneway houses that could be accessory dwelling units for elderly parents or children moving back home.

“Over the last two week we have perfected the block; it is really, really amazing,” says Farrow. “Dimensionally perfect, so functional to assemble. . . and beautiful.”