11 Factory Processes Used to Make Some of Your Favorite Products

Since the concept of the factory was devised during the Industrial Revolution many objects are now produced within them. These 11 are prime examples.
Christopher McFadden
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The factory processes behind some common everyday consumables are, usually, very interesting indeed. Although most people simply take factories and their processes for granted, it might be good practice to, from time to time, reflect on how all those products around us have come to be.

These 11 are great examples. The following are far from exhaustive and are in no particular order.

1. Paper Towel Tend to be Made From Recycled Paper

Paper towels tend to be made from recycled material and so require large quantities of paper collected from homes and businesses. This paper is soaked and chopped up into pieces and heated to make a pulp which is later screened for impurities.

The screened pulp is then spun in a centrifuge to increase density. Ink, if any, is then removed using a flotation process. After this phase, the paper is kneaded to swell fibers, dye (if needed) is added and then it is all passed through a set of rollers and heaters to form paper.

11 Factory Processes Used to Make Some of Your Favorite Products
Source: Santeri Viinamäki/Wikimedia Commons

2. Natural Wine Corks are Made From Cork Oak Bark

Natural wine corks start out as the bark of the Cork Oaks, like those commons to Spain and Portugal. The bark is harvested every 9 years once the tree is mature.

This cork is then boiled to soften and clean them. They cleaned boiled planks are then sorted and graded. If the bark is thick enough they are machine punched to make corks. 

If the bark is too thin it, and excess from the previous step, are ground up and glued back together to make agglomerate or composite corks. These are then cut and trimmed to size depending on final use.

The corks are then optically sorted and branded before distribution.

11 Factory Processes Used to Make Some of Your Favorite Products
Source: Beatrice Murch/Wikimedia Commons

3. Chocolate Making Can Take Up to 6 Days

The process begins with Cacao beans being sifted to remove foreign objects and then sorted by type. Some chocolate can be made from up to twelve types depending on the recipe. 

The beans are then heated to 98-143 degrees Celcius for between 1/2 - 2 hours. After which they are cracked, crushed and broken into 'nibs' which undergo further grinding into a thick paste called liquor. 

Sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla, and milk. are added to remove the bitterness. The paste is then 'conched' to make the texture smooth (this can run for up to 6 days for high-end chocolate). It is then tempered by repeatedly stirring, heating and cooling before continuing on to the molds to set prior to packaging and delivery.

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11 Factory Processes Used to Make Some of Your Favorite Products
Source: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos/Wikimedia Commons

4. External Hard Drives are Great as Backups

External hard drives have become invaluable for many to provide extra storage or data security and backup. The process of making them is quite laborious, as you can imagine.

We'll let the maestros at 'How It's Made' guide you through the process.

5. Lego Bricks are Built by Robots

Lego bricks are beloved by parents and children alike the world over. At their factory in Billund, Denmark, most bricks are made by a series of autonomous robots that are able to churn out over 36,000 pieces every single minute.

Most of these are generic pieces, but some kits require specially designed pieces - this is a lot more time consuming than you'd think. 

6. Jeans Still Rely Heavily on Human Workers

Jeans, or denim, begin life as cotton which needs to first be harvested ready for production. This is then processed and turned into a thread on enormous spools at the factory.

The "warp" (lengthwise threads) and "weft" (horizontal threads) are then weaved into a fabric. This is then cut to shape with pieces assembled and stitched together by human workers to give the basic shape. 

Then the buttons and pocket grommets are added. Detailed seams are then added to the jeans by machines and the final product is "inflated" to stretch it to the desired shape. 

Other design aesthetics are added (like distressing marks), the jeans are washed and branded, packaged and shipped. 

11 Factory Processes Used to Make Some of Your Favorite Products
Source: Becks/Wikimedia Commons

7. Bowling Ball Has Changed A Lot Over Time

Unless you are a keen bowler you might not give bowling balls a second thought. This is a shame, however, as their factory manufacturing process is pretty interesting.

8. Potato Chip Factory Production is Far From Simple

First potato deliveries are examined for quality and size. If unacceptable, the load is returned to the supplier. If acceptable, it is passed through a vertical helical screw to remove foreign objects, like stones, before being washed.


Potatoes are then peeled and sliced through a revolving impaler/presser that cuts strips of 1.7-1.85 mm thickness. These slices are then washed (to remove starch) if desired.

They are then chemically treated for color and partially dried using air jets before being fried at 177-190 degrees Celsius. Slices are then removed and salted at a rate of 0.79 kg per 45.4 kg of chips.

Additional flavoring is added at this point before they are further sorted and cooled and then packaged and delivered.

11 Factory Processes Used to Make Some of Your Favorite Products
Source: Rainer Zenz/Wikimedia Commons

9. Milk Isn't Really Made But it Takes A Lot of Processing

Technically speaking milk is harvested and prepared rather than made. Its actual 'manufacture' is the job of the cow after all - at least for the moment.

However, its preparation and bottling process is fascinating nonetheless.

10. Coin Manufacturer Has Changed A Lot Over Time

Coins have had a very long history indeed. First 'minted' in Asia Minor by the Lydians they have come a long way.

11. Chewing Gum Factory Processing Is Quite Complex

Chewing gum begins, unsurprisingly, as either natural or synthetic gum. This gum is first melted, sterilized and purified and then left to dry for a few days.

It is then spun in a centrifuge to remove impurities before being cooked and mixed with softeners and sweeteners and other additives. The mixture is then kneaded and extruded to reform a smooth gum. 

This gum is then cut into sticks or pellets ready to receive candy coating if required. These are then wrapped ready for delivery.

11 Factory Processes Used to Make Some of Your Favorite Products
Source: Jon Rawlinson/Wikimedia Commons
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