Tuesday, October 21, 2008

how pencils are made

Since kindergarten or in an early age we thought to use first the pencil. How is it made? this will give the idea of how is its done.

Groover and lead layer linked in a single process - Steps 4 to 6

1. At the Slat factory Pencil Stock is cut into "Pencil Blocksi" a bit longer than the normal length of a pencil. The small amount of extra length is called "trim allowance" that is important at the pencil factory later.

2. Pencil Blocks are cut into "Pencil Slats" using specially designed circular saws. These saws are very thin in order to reduce the amount of "waste" in the form of "sawdust". Due to the natural grain and defect characteristics of the wood the slats are sorted by width and grade for further processing. Slats without defects are called "full ply". Some slats are cut to smaller widths (called "narrow ply") or shorter lengths (called "memos") in order to eliminate the defects and to produce a variety of useable grades and plies of pencil slats.

3. Pencil Slats are treated with wax and stain in order to provide uniform color and improve the machining and sharpening characteristics of the wood for future processing. The slats pass through a final inspection process and then are packaged and shipped to "Pencil Factories" all over the world.

4. At the Pencil Factory a "Groover machine" cuts grooves into the slats to accept the writing core (or "lead").

Eraser Tipping Machine

5. Writing cores -- made from a mixture of graphite and clay -- are placed into the grooves. Other pencils may use wax based cores for coloring pencils as well as many other formulations used to make cosmetic pencilsi.

6. A second grooved slat is glued onto the first -- making a "sandwich." This is done with a machine called a "lead layer" where the sandwhiches are then "clamped" to hold them together tightly while the glue dries.

7. Once the glue dries the sandwiches are transfered to equipment called a "Shaper" and are first "trimmed" to assure that the sandwhich is square and that all the pencils will be the proper length, then the sandwich is machined into pencil shapes such as hexagonal, round or triangular.

8. The individual pencils cut from the sandwich are ready for further processing. Any defective pencils such as uncentered leads or chipped wood are discarded at this point.

9. Next each pencil is painted in a machine receiving from 4 to 10 coats of lacquer depending on the desired quality of the finish and the color of lacquer. A recess is cut to accept the ferrule.

After painting some pencils are wrapped with decorative film or foils with fancy designs although most pencils are imprinted with the brand name by stamping the foil into the surface of the pencil.

10. On a "tipping" machine an eraser and a ferrule (the metal ring that holds the eraser to the pencil)are crimped into place on each pencil.

Following tipping pencils are packaged in many different ways for shipment to distributors, wholesalers or direct to retail stores where you buy your pencils.

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