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Thread: How a Pencil is made???

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    Senior Member Array mrina's Avatar
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    How a Pencil is made???

    How a Pencil is made???
    The Early Days
    Modern pencils are the descendants of ancient writing instruments.

    In ancient Rome, scribes wrote on papyrus (an early form of paper) with a thin metal rod called a stylus, which left a light but readable mark. Other early styluses were made of lead. Today we still call the core of a pencil the "lead" even though it is made from nontoxic graphite.

    Graphite came into widespread use following the discovery of a large graphite deposit in Borrowdale, England in 1564. Graphite left a darker mark than lead, but was so soft and brittle that it required a holder. At first, sticks of graphite were wrapped in string. Later, the graphite was inserted into wooden sticks that had been hollowed-out by hand! The wood-cased pencil was born.

    Oldest Known Wood Cased Pencil – Faber-Castell collection

    The first mass-produced pencils were made in Nuremberg, Germany in 1662. There an active pencil industry developed with famous companies like Faber-Castell established in 1761, Lyra, Steadtler and others growing throughout the 19th century industial revolution.

    Development of the US Industry
    Until the war with England cut off imports, pencils used in America came from overseas. William Monroe, a cabinetmaker in Concord, Massachusetts, made the first American wood pencils in 1812 as did another Concord area maker, famous author Henry David Thoreau.

    Other eary US manufacturers that helped industrialize pencil making in the United States were Joseph Dixon Crucible Company (now Dixon Ticonderoga) and a number of factories established in New York and New Jersey towards the end of the 19th century by immigrants from the German industry including Faber Castell, Eberhard Faber, Eagle Pencil Company (Later Berol) and General Pencil Company.

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    Senior Member Array mrina's Avatar
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    Eagle Pencil Factory - New York

    The first mass-produced pencils were unpainted, to show off their high-quality wood casings. However, by the 1890s, many manufacturers were painting their pencils and giving them brand names. There's an interesting story behind the familiar yellow color of the common pencil

    Following the Wood
    Early American pencils were made from Eastern Red Cedari, a strong, splinter-resistant wood that grew in Tennessee and other parts of the southeastern United States. Many Northern manufacturers set up wood mills in Tennessee and other Southern states where Eastern Red Cedar grows. Eventually much of the US pencil manufacturing industry established pencil factories in Tennessee where the remaining US producers are primarily concentrated today.

    By the early 1900s, pencil manufacturers needed additional sources of wood, and turned to California's Sierra Nevada mountains. There they found Incense-cedar, a species that grew in abundance and made superior pencils. California Incense-cedari soon became the wood of choice for domestic and international pencil makers around the world.

    To ensure the continued availability of Incense-cedar, forest workers have carefully managed the stands of trees in which Incense-cedar grows, and timber companies have been careful to harvest the trees on a sustained-yieldi basis. "Sustained-yield" means that the annual growth of the forest is greater than the amount harvested from the forest. Forests managed on a sustained-yield basis are abundant and healthy, and will continue to provide wood for people and habitat for animals for generations to come.

    A Global Industry
    The history of the pencil industry includes a great number of important companies and brands from around the world. Many of the major brands now have factories throughout the world. The reduction of trade barriers, the introduction of containerized shipments of goods overseas, the comparative differences in raw material costs between countries and the lower cost of tranporting people and information around the world have lead the pencil industry like many others to experience the challenging impact of globalization. This has lead to a great shift in the past 20 years of where pencils are produced with increasing concentration of manufacturing in Asia.

    Pencil Making

    At a sawmill Incense-cedari (Species of tree growing in California and Oregon preferred for pencils due to its superior technical characteristics)logs are first cut into lumber called "Pencil Stock" or "Pencil Squaresi". This lumber product is dried to a uniform moisture content in a dry kiln and then shipped to the Slati factory.

    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").

    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.

    Eraser Tipping Machine

    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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    Member Array seba.memo3's Avatar
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    always good knowledge from you.thanks mrina

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