How It's Made (2001–…): Season 3, Episode 13 - Fire Fighter Boots/Garden Tools/Automated Machines/Gypsum Board - full transcript

Find out how firefighter boots are constructed, how garden tools are forged, how automated machines are put together and how gypsum boards are made.


CAPTIONS PAID FOR BY
DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS, INC.

Narrator:
TODAY ON "HOW IT'S MADE,"

FIREFIGHTER BOOTS...

...GARDEN TOOLS...

...AUTOMATED MACHINES...

...AND GYPSUM BOARD.

FIREFIGHTERS NEED BOOTS
THEY CAN PULL ON LIGHTNING FAST

TO GET TO THE BLAZE
AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.

THOSE BOOTS HAVE TO BE
FIRE-RESISTANT AND WATERPROOF.

THEY HAVE TO PROVIDE GOOD GRIP
FOR CLIMBING LADDERS

AND BE STURDY ENOUGH
NOT TO PUNCTURE

WHEN STEPPING
THROUGH SHARP DEBRIS.

FIREFIGHTER BOOTS START OUT
AS A CHUNKY BLOCK OF RUBBER.

THE FIRST STEP IS TO PUT
THE BLOCK THROUGH A MILL.

IT PASSES THROUGH THE ROLLERS
OVER AND OVER AGAIN

UNTIL IT GRADUALLY FLATTENS
AND THINS OUT.

WORKERS THEN ADD CHEMICALS --

ANYWHERE FROM 15 TO 35
DIFFERENT TYPES --

DEPENDING ON THE MODEL OF BOOT
THEY'RE MAKING.

THE RUBBER FORMULATION IS WHAT
MAKES THE BOOT FIRE-RESISTANT.

ONCE THE RUBBER
IS SMOOTH AND MALLEABLE,

ABOUT THE CONSISTENCY
OF MODELING DOUGH,

THEY FORM IT INTO SHEETS
FROM WHICH THEY'LL CUT

THE VARIOUS PIECES
THAT MAKE UP THE BOOT.

THEY FEED THIS SHEET
THROUGH ROLLERS

THAT IMPRINT VERTICAL LINES
ON THE RUBBER.

THEY'LL CUT THE SHEET
ALONG THESE LINES

TO MAKE THE STRIPS THAT RUN DOWN
THE BACK OF THE BOOT.

FROM ANOTHER SHEET OF RUBBER,
USING A HANDHELD DIE,

THEY CUT ONE LAYER
OF THE MULTILAYERED SOLE.

THEY RUN AN EXTRA-THICK SHEET
OF RUBBER

THROUGH ROLLERS
THAT IMPRINT A TREAD PATTERN.

THEN WORKERS CUT OUT
THE BOTTOM SOLES.

THEY MARK THE BOOT SIZE
ON THE BOTTOM.

USING YELLOW RUBBER, THEY CUT
OUT THE BOOT'S TOE-CAP COVERS.

THE BOOT'S LEG
HAS A STIFF LINING

TO PREVENT IT FROM WOBBLING.

WORKERS CUT IT FROM
A RUBBER-BACKED COTTON FABRIC

FOLLOWING A PATTERN.

ONCE ALL THE PIECES ARE CUT,

WORKERS CAN ASSEMBLE THE BOOT
ON A FORM.

THEY START WITH THE LINING,
WRAPPING IT AROUND THE FRONT

AND GLUING IT CLOSED
AT THE BACK.

THEN THEY GLUE ON THE INSOLE.

FOR THIS MODEL, IT'S MADE
OF RUBBER-BACKED FELT.

THEY SECURE THE LINING SEAM

AND SEAL IT WITH ONE OF THOSE
RUBBER STRIPS WE SAW EARLIER.

NOW THE VAN --

A PIECE OF FELT REINFORCED
WITH A THIN LAYER OF RUBBER.

THIS GIVES THE BOOT STRENGTH.

NEXT, A TOE-CAP SPONGE
MADE OF RUBBER COMPOUNDS.

WHEN THEY CURE THE BOOT,

THE SPONGE WILL INFLATE AND HOLD
THE STEEL TOE CAP IN PLACE.

TO PROTECT
THE FIREFIGHTER'S FEET

WHEN WALKING
THROUGH SHARP DEBRIS,

THEY ADD A STEEL ARCH
AND A STEEL SOLE.

NEXT, AN ADHESIVE-BACKED
TOE-CAP COVER.

THEN A FELT SOLE TO PROTECT THE
FIREFIGHTER'S FOOT AGAINST HEAT.

IT HAS A STEEL ARCH
FOR STABILITY,

USEFUL WHEN THE FIREFIGHTER
NEEDS TO CLIMB A LADDER.

AFTER APPLYING
A RUBBER HEEL-REINFORCEMENT,

THEY COVER THE LOWER PART
OF THE BOOT

WITH YELLOW FOAM FOR INSULATION.

THEY SECURE IT
USING A STRIP OF RUBBER.

NOW THEY FINISH THE BOTTOM
OF THE BOOT IN BLACK RUBBER.

THEY REINFORCE THE BACK
AND SIDES IN YELLOW RUBBER...

AND FINISH THEM OFF
IN BLACK RUBBER.

NEXT COMES THE YELLOW TOE CAP...

THEN A RUBBER PAD
TO PROTECT THE FRONT OF THE BOOT

WHEN IT RUBS AGAINST
THE RUNGS OF THE LADDER.

NOW THE BOTTOM SOLE.

THEY USE A PRESS
TO SEAL IT IN PLACE.

RUBBER BONDS TO RUBBER
UNDER PRESSURE.

THEY APPLY A RUBBER TRIM
AROUND THE BOTTOM

USING A SMALL ROLLER
TO PRESS IT IN PLACE.

WORKERS THEN PRESS ALL THE SEAMS
TO ENSURE THEY'RE WELL-ADHERED.

THEN IT'S INTO A VACUUM MACHINE
FOR ABOUT FOUR SECONDS

TO CREATE AN AIRTIGHT BOND.

FINALLY,
THE BOOTS GO INTO A GIANT OVEN

THAT HEATS THEM
TO 280-DEGREES FAHRENHEIT.

AN HOUR AND 45 MINUTES LATER,
THE RUBBER IS CURED AND HARDENED

AND ALL THE PIECES
HAVE FUSED TOGETHER.

THESE BOOTS
ARE READY TO TAKE THE HEAT.

Narrator: ANYONE WITH A GREEN
THUMB KNOWS THAT IT TAKES

BOTH SKILL AND PATIENCE
TO MAKE A GARDEN FLOURISH.

IT ALSO HELPS TO HAVE
THE PROPER TOOLS ON HAND.

AN AVID GARDENER'S ARSENAL
CAN CONTAIN EVERYTHING

FROM SHEARS, TRIMMERS,
AND PRUNERS

TO RAKES, HOES, AND SPADES.

THE HANDLES OF THESE GARDEN
TOOLS ARE MADE OF WHITE ASH,

A STURDY WOOD
THAT CAN WITHSTAND THE FORCE

OF SHOVELING, DIGGING,
OR RAKING.

THESE DRIED-ASH DOWELS
MEASURE TWO TO SEVEN FEET LONG,

DEPENDING ON THE TOOL
BEING MADE.

THEY FIRST ENTER
WHAT'S CALLED THE CHUCKING LINE,

WHERE SPECIALLY DESIGNED,
AUTOMATED MACHINES

SHAPE THEM INTO HANDLES.

THE FIRST OPERATION
ROUNDS THE DOWELS

TO THE REQUIRED DIAMETER --

ABOUT TWO INCHES,
DEPENDING ON THE TOOL.

THE NEXT OPERATION CUTS THE
DOWELS TO THE REQUIRED LENGTH

AND PROFILES THEIR ENDS.

TWO CHUCKING HEADS,
ONE ON EACH SIDE,

CARVE THE ENDS SIMULTANEOUSLY.

ONE SHAPES THE BOTTOM OF THE
HANDLE TO FIT THE TOOL'S BLADE.

CERTAIN BLADES
GO OVER THE WOODEN HANDLE,

WHILE OTHERS GO INTO IT.

FOR INSERTED BLADES,

ANOTHER CHUCKING HEAD
HOLLOWS OUT THE HANDLE.

MEANWHILE, THE CHUCKING HEAD
ON THE OTHER SIDE

ROUNDS OFF
THE TOP OF THE HANDLE.

THE FINISHED HANDLES
SPIN AGAINST A SANDING BELT

AS THEY EXIT THE CHUCKING LINE.

THIS SMOOTHES
THE SURFACE OF THE WOOD,

PREPARING THE HANDLES FOR
A COAT OF PROTECTIVE VARNISH.

HIGH-END SHOVELS AND SPADES HAVE
WHAT'S CALLED A STEEL D-GRIP --

A STEEL HANDLE GRIP
WITH A WOODEN INSERT.

AN AUTOMATED LATHE
FIRST SHAPES A PIECE OF ASH

TO THE RIGHT LENGTH AND PROFILE.

THEN AN AUTOMATED DRILL
PIERCES A HOLE.

TO MAKE THE SIDES OF THE GRIP,

WORKERS BEGIN WITH TWO PRECUT
PIECES OF STEEL CALLED BLANKS.

THEY PLACE THEM
IN A MANUALLY OPERATED PRESS

THAT SHAPES THEM
IN A TWO-STEP PROCESS.

THEY USE THE HEAT
OF A STRONG ELECTRICAL CURRENT

TO MELT THE STEEL
AND FUSE THE PIECES TOGETHER.

THIS IS CALLED
RESISTANCE WELDING.

NEXT, THEY FEED A STEEL RIVET

THROUGH THE SIDES
AND WOODEN INSERT...

...AND FASTEN
EVERYTHING TOGETHER.

ELSEWHERE IN THE FACTORY,
A HEATED FORMING MACHINE

STAMPS OUT THE STEEL BLANKS THE
WORKERS WILL SHAPE INTO BLADES.

A ROBOTIC ARM
LOADS THE BLANKS INTO AN OVEN.

IN JUST FOUR MINUTES,

THE OVEN HEATS THE STEEL TO OVER
1,800-DEGREES FAHRENHEIT.

THIS INTENSE HEAT
MAKES THE METAL MALLEABLE.

WORKERS THEN TAKE OUT
AND SHAPE ONE BLANK AT A TIME.

THEY ONLY HAVE A FEW SECONDS

TO FORM THE STEEL
BEFORE IT COOLS OFF.

THE FIRST PRESS
FORMS THE BLADE --

IN THIS CASE A SHOVEL
AND A PARTIAL SOCKET.

THEN THE SECOND PRESS
CLOSES THE SOCKET.

THEY QUICKLY SUBMERGE THE BLADE
IN LUKEWARM WATER

TO COOL THE METAL DOWN.

BY NOW, THE STEEL
IS EXTREMELY BRITTLE,

SO THE BLADES GO INTO WHAT'S
CALLED A TEMPERING FURNACE

FOR 15 MINUTES.

THIS ALTERS
THE METAL'S INTERNAL STRUCTURE,

RESTORING ITS STRENGTH.

THE STEEL D-GRIP
HAS BEEN CLEANED AND PAINTED.

WORKERS INSERT THE WOODEN HANDLE
AND NAIL THE PARTS TOGETHER.

ON THE OTHER END,
THEY ATTACH THE BLADE,

WHICH, BY NOW, HAS BEEN
VARNISHED TO PREVENT CORROSION.

AFTER DRILLING A HOLE THROUGH
BOTH THE METAL AND THE WOOD,

THEY FASTEN THE BLADE USING
A RIVET IF IT'S A HIGH-END TOOL,

A NAIL IF IT'S A BUDGET MODEL.

THESE HOT-OFF-THE-PRESS
GARDEN TOOLS

ARE FINALLY READY
TO PUT IN A HARD DAY'S WORK.

Narrator: A COUPLE OF CENTURIES
AFTER THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION,

MASS PRODUCTION
MET AUTOMATION --

A MATCH MADE NOT IN HEAVEN
BUT IN HIGH TECHNOLOGY.

IN THIS SPECIAL SEGMENT,

"HOW IT'S MADE" HONORS
THE AUTOMATED MACHINE

WITH THIS "MOVING" TRIBUTE.

Narrator: IT'S CALLED
"GYPSUM BOARD" OR "DRYWALL,"

AND CHANCES ARE YOUR WALLS
AND CEILINGS ARE MADE OF IT.

YEARS AGO, IT REPLACED PLASTER
AS THE WALL MATERIAL OF CHOICE.

WORKERS JUST MOUNT THE SHEETS
ONTO WOOD FRAMING,

PLASTER THE JOINTS,
THEN SAND AND PAINT.

GYPSUM IS A NATURAL MINERAL.

SINCE ANCIENT TIMES, IT HAS BEEN
MINED TO PRODUCE GYPSUM PLASTER.

IN FACT, THERE'S GYPSUM PLASTER
IN EGYPT'S PYRAMIDS.

IN 1894, A MAN BY THE NAME
OF AUGUSTINE SACKETT

PATENTED A BOARD MADE OF GYPSUM,
WHICH HE CALLED "PLASTERBOARD."

BUT IT DIDN'T BECOME THE NORM
IN CONSTRUCTION

UNTIL THE BUILDING BOOM
THAT FOLLOWED WORLD WAR II,

WHEN BUSY CONTRACTORS
ABANDONED PLASTER

IN FAVOR OF THIS FASTER
AND CHEAPER WAY TO BUILD WALLS.

THE PROCESS OF MAKING GYPSUM
BOARD BEGINS AT THE QUARRY,

WHERE CREWS MINE THE GYPSUM,
A SOFT ROCK.

THE LOADERS DUMP THEIR HAUL
INTO WHAT'S CALLED AN APRON.

THE APRON CHANNELS THE GYPSUM
ONTO A CONVEYOR,

BREAKING UP THE BIG CHUNKS
ALONG THE WAY.

FROM THERE, IT'S SENT
TO A GIANT ROTATING DRUM.

WITHIN 8 MINUTES,

THIS HOT-AIR ROCK DRYER REMOVES
5% TO 10% OF THE MOISTURE,

TURNING THE GYPSUM WHITE.

NEXT STOP, A GAS-FIRED SILO,
CALLED A KETTLE.

IT COOKS THE GYPSUM
AT 300 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT,

UNTIL MOST OF THE REMAINING
MOISTURE EVAPORATES.

THE KETTLE IS FED BY A MILL

THAT GRINDS THE LUMPY ROCK
INTO WHAT'S CALLED "STUCCO,"

A FINE POWDER THE CONSISTENCY
OF WHEAT FLOUR.

IN A MIXING TANK,
WORKERS COMBINE WATER

WITH SEVERAL POWDERED CHEMICALS
AND MINERALS

AND A CHEMICAL SOAP.

THE DRY ADDITIVES GIVE THE BOARD
THE REQUIRED STRUCTURE,

WHILE THE SOAP CREATES
AIR BUBBLES

TO MAKE THE BOARD LIGHTER.

IN A SEPARATE MACHINE, THEY MIX
THE STUCCO WITH AN ACCELERATOR

TO MAKE THE GYPSUM SET FASTER.

NOW THEY COMBINE
THE TWO SEPARATE BATCHES,

CREATING A MIXTURE
CALLED A SLURRY.

IT LOOKS LIKE THICK, WHITE SOUP.

NOW THEY'LL FORM IT
INTO GYPSUM BOARD,

WHICH IS BASICALLY
A SLURRY SANDWICH.

THE BREAD IS THIS THICK,
HEAVYWEIGHT PAPER.

AS THE ROLL UNWINDS, "CREASER
WHEELS," AS THEY'RE CALLED,

SCORE A LINE ABOUT ONE INCH
TOWARD THE MIDDLE

FROM BOTH EDGES.

THEN A MACHINE EVENLY SPREADS
THE SLURRY,

LIKE A SANDWICH FILLING,

BETWEEN THE TOP AND BOTTOM
SHEETS OF PAPER.

THEN THE PAPER-FOLDING
OPERATION BEGINS,

MOST OF WHICH
IS A COMPANY SECRET

AND OFF-LIMITS TO OUR CAMERAS.

THEY FOLD THE EDGES
ALONG THE SCORELINES,

THE BOTTOM EDGES UPWARD
AND THE TOP ONES DOWNWARD,

GLUING THEM OVER THE BOTTOM ONES
TO TRAP THE SLURRY INSIDE.

DROPS OF WATER SMOOTH OUT
ANY RIDGES,

ENSURING A SMOOTH AND EVEN FOLD.

FORMING PLATES THEN SHAPE
THE FOLDED EDGES

INTO STRAIGHT SIDES.

AN OPTICAL SENSOR CHECKS
THE DEPTH OF THE BOARD'S RECESS.

THE RECESS IS WHERE YOU PUT
THE JOINT TAPE

TO CONNECT ONE BOARD TO THE NEXT
WHEN YOU'RE BUILDING A WALL.

THE FORMING STATION SPEWS OUT
1,000 CONTINUOUS FEET

OF GYPSUM BOARD.

A CUTTER NOW CHOPS
THAT MEGABOARD

INTO WHATEVER SIZE
THEY'RE PRODUCING IN THIS RUN.

AS THE BOARDS EXIT THE CUTTER,

AUTOMATED PRONGS FLIP THEM
RECESS-SIDE UP.

THE RECESS SIDE WILL BE
THE WALL SURFACE,

AND THEY DON'T WANT TO RISK
DAMAGING IT

ON THE ROLLERS THAT LEAD
TO THE DRYING STATION.

THIS GAS-FIRED HOT-AIR DRYER

IS KIND OF LIKE
A MULTILEVEL PARKING GARAGE.

IT'S ALMOST 500 FEET LONG
AND HAS 8 DECKS.

THE FACTORY CAN CURE HUNDREDS
OF BOARDS AT A TIME.

IT TAKES 40 MINUTES

TO MOVE THROUGH THE DRYER'S
4 TEMPERATURE ZONES,

WHICH START
AT 660 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT

AND GET PROGRESSIVELY COOLER,
TO 300 DEGREES.

THE BOARDS ARE SOLD IN PAIRS,

SO THE MACHINERY STACKS THEM IN
TWOS, THEN TAPES THEM TOGETHER.

THE TAPE BEARS THE BRAND NAME,

AS WELL AS THE SIZE
AND THICKNESS OF THE BOARD.

STANDARD LENGTHS RANGE
FROM 8 TO 14 FEET,

AND THE MOST COMMON THICKNESSES
ARE 1/2 INCH AND 5/8 INCH.

THE TAPE ALSO TELLS THE CONSUMER
WHAT TYPE OF GYPSUM BOARD IT IS.

THERE'S A STANDARD DRYWALL
FOR BUILDING WALLS IN HOMES.

THERE'S A MOISTURE-RESISTANT
VERSION FOR HUMID AREAS,

SUCH AS BATHROOMS,

AND THERE'S FIRE-RESISTANT
GYPSUM BOARD,

USUALLY REQUIRED BY LAW
FOR COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS.

IF YOU HAVE ANY COMMENTS
ABOUT THE SHOW

OR IF YOU'D LIKE TO SUGGEST
TOPICS FOR FUTURE SHOWS,

DROP US A LINE AT...