In a world full of things, you can be forgiven for not really worrying about where everything comes from. But, in reality, you might be missing out on a treat.
The industrial processes behind their creation can be entertaining to watch, but also fascinating.
Here we pay homage to some examples of interesting industrial processes behind the making of things.
1. Making of pencils is pretty interesting.
They come in a seemingly endless variety of colors and shapes and are loved by children and adults all over the world. But how are they made?
First, the threads are created by mixing graphite powder and clay, which is then fired. Next, pencil bodies need to be made. If it is wood, the right material should be selected to withstand some pressure without breaking and, be flexible enough to be sharpened.
Staedtler in Germany, use cedarwood from California. The pre-cut sections are delivered to the factory. These have grooves cut to accommodate the pencil leads and special glue is added to glue the leads in place.
Then each second part is sent to a separate conveyor. Leads are added to the first and the second wooden slats are glued to the first to form a multi-pencil sandwich.
These are then compressed to allow the glue to dry. Now pencil sandwiches are cut lengthwise and shaped to form individual unsharpened pencils, the tips of which are then sharpened. The final phase is usually lacquering the wood to hide the grain, adding a mark, and other markers for type identification.
2. Ketchup manufacturing.
Different recipes vary, but the basic ingredients tend to include tomato paste/puree, sugar or natural sweetener, spices, salt, vinegar, and onion powder.
Obviously, tomato paste is the main ingredient. The paste is pumped into a holding tank ready for use. Depending on the size of the batch, the measured volumes of dough are passed into a cooking pot, where it is heated and constantly stirred.
The other ingredients are then added in the correct proportion for the batch size. The mixture is constantly stirred.
Before bottling, the ketchup must go through a series of gradual cooling stages. At the same time, the bottles are prepared and lined up to receive the ketchup.
These bottles are then filled with ketchup, usually using an automated system, caps are added and labels are attached. The ketchup bottles are now ready to be packaged for distribution.
3. Compact disks.
CDs (except the master), if you didn’t know, are 99% polycarbonate plastic. The reflective bit constitutes approximately the remaining 1%.
Molten polycarbonate plastic is used to make the actual disc. The digital information, if used, is then burned there while the disc is still near the melting point.
Often times, this involves a die, and the tampon creates microscopic bumps called “pits and lands”.
These provide the binary encoding for the data to be “read”.
Once complete, the reflective foil layer is applied using a process called spraying or wet silvering. This allows the reader’s laser to reflect light back to the reader. This is usually aluminum, but can also include precious metals such as silver, gold, or platinum.
Finally, a lacquer coating is applied to seal the reflective layer and prevent oxidation. It is an incredibly thin layer and offers very little protection against physical damage.
4. Ice cream sandwiches.
An example of an industrial process related to food here. We do not apologize.
Ice cream sandwiches are very satisfying to eat and also to watch. Honestly, you won’t be disappointed. The process is fairly straightforward, but the engineering behind the machines is less so.
Ice cream is whipped first to add air. This is introduced in the next part of the assembly. Here, two sets of wafers are sandwiched as the ice cream is injected simultaneously between them.
The process is so efficient that around 140 ice cream sandwiches can be produced per minute! They are then packaged, refrigerated, of course, and shipped for all of you to enjoy. How nice.
5. The way they make car tires is amazing to watch.
Tire production is a multi-step process and consists of different components that all come together to form the final tire.
Tires are made from around 15 basic ingredients. These include natural and synthetic rubber, chemical additives, and carbon black pigment.
Giant and specialized mixers are used to mix these ingredients under high temperatures and pressures. Recipes will vary slightly from each part of the tire, but the end result at this point is a thin rubber gum. These are rolled into sheets.
Then the task of assembling the tire on a tire making machine begins. Different combinations of fabric, metal, and rubber of each component of the tire, skeleton, walls, and treads, etc. are combined together to form the final product.
The last step is to cure the tire. The “green” tire is heated to over 300 degrees Fahrenheit for twelve to fifteen minutes, vulcanizing it to bond the components and harden the rubber.
We deliberately glossed over the whole process, as we didn’t want to spoil your enjoyment of this video.
Not to mention that this could be a complete article on its own.
6. Potato chip.
For starters, having a batch of potatoes is obviously handy. These are delivered to the factory in large quantities.
Each one is controlled for its quality and taste. Some are drilled with holes to allow monitoring of the cooking process. Defective potatoes are kept aside, for example, if they have green edges or imperfections. If their weight exceeds the factory preset quotas, the entire shipment can be returned to the supplier.
The acceptable potatoes are then conveyed via conveyor belts in a vertical helical conveyor. This removes dirt and stones if any, and the potatoes are then passed to an automatic peeler.
The peeled potatoes are then passed through a rotary impaler/presser which cuts them into uniform, paper-thin slices. The blades can be straight or ridged, depending on the product.
Excess starch can be removed by cold soaking. Color treatment is also added at this stage if necessary.
The paper-thin potato slices now move on to the important part, frying, and salting. The first pass under jets of air to remove excess water.
The slices are then passed in very hot oil (between 176 and 190 degrees centigrade). They passed gently with paddles. As they complete their journey in the oil, salt is added to a predetermined concentration.
A flavor is also added if necessary. The chips are then drained of excess oil, cooled, and sorted, and the burnt ones are removed automatically using optical sorters before packaging.
7. Ever wondered how marbles are made?
Although made of clay or stone in ancient times, modern marbles are generally made of glass. The process begins with the melting of the recycled glass, as well as previously discarded marble stocks (e.g. balls that are too large or too small).
All of these random sets of glass are put into a furnace for melting. About 16 hours later, the molten glass is drained from the oven and is ready for processing.
A cutter bar cuts the flow of molten glass every half a second to make small pieces of glass, called slugs. These will eventually become marbles. Marble sizes are determined by changing the time intervals of the shearing action, faster for small balls, slower for larger ones.
The still warm slugs then pass through a series of constantly rotating metal ridged rollers that keep the slugs separate while cooling them and giving them their characteristic spherical shape.
The final appearance, or coloring, of the marble, was determined in the kiln as air passed to color through the molten glass.
The solidified beads are then sorted by size. Balls with more intricate patterns are actually made by hand.
8. How bullets are made is strangely satisfying to watch.
There are a wide variety of bullet types and manufacturers, ranging from large companies to individuals that load and reload ammunition with simple tools. Large organizations tend to automate at least part of the process.
Ball making techniques also vary widely. Here we will follow the process used by Hornady in the USA to make their soft tip exposed core type bullet, aka a Hornady lock.
First, the metallic sheath of the bullet is formed from copper cups drawn to receive the lead core at a later stage.
Hornady prefers to use mechanical force to achieve this rather than heating and molding. It takes several steps to gradually stretch the copper to the desired length and diameter.
A lead score is then added to the inside of the jacket. Further steps of mechanical force are used to slowly form the characteristic bullet shape.
This remodeling leads to forcing the excess lead out of the top of the ball. These are cut.
Further forced reshaping occurs and again excess lead is cut off from the nose until the complete finalized bullet shape is achieved.