How It's Made (2001–…): Season 4, Episode 1 - Plastic Bottles and Jars/Mail/Eggs/Handcrafted Wooden Pens - full transcript

Discover how plastic bottles and jars are constructed, how mail is processed and how wooden pens are handcrafted.


CAPTIONS PAID FOR BY
DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS, INC.

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

PLASTIC BOTTLES AND JARS...

...MAIL...

...EGGS...

...AND HANDCRAFTED WOODEN PENS.

WHETHER YOU'RE BUYING
APPLE JUICE OR PEANUT BUTTER,

YOU'VE PROBABLY NOTICED
THAT FEWER PRODUCTS

COME IN GLASS CONTAINERS
THESE DAYS.

PLASTIC PACKAGING
IS BECOMING MORE COMMON.

PLASTIC BOTTLES AND JARS
ARE LIGHTER TO CARRY

AND LEAVE NO SHARDS OF GLASS
TO CLEAN UP

IF YOU DROP YOUR GROCERY BAG.

MANY TRANSPARENT BOTTLES
AND JARS

ARE MADE FROM A TYPE OF PLASTIC

CALLED POLYETHYLENE
TEREPHTHALATE,

OR P.E.T.

AN AUTOMATED MIXER COMBINES
P.E.T. PELLETS

WITH FLAKES OF RECYCLED P.E.T.

REPROCESSED PLASTIC LOSES
SOME OF ITS PHYSICAL PROPERTIES,

SO THE RECYCLED CONTENT
CAN'T EXCEED 10%.

THE P.E.T. DROPS FROM THE MIXER
INTO A PLASTIC INJECTION MACHINE

THAT HEATS IT TO A PIPING
600 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT.

THE DRY RAW MATERIAL MELTS INTO
THICK AND GOOEY LIQUID PLASTIC.

THE MACHINE THEN SHOOTS IT
AT HIGH PRESSURE INTO A MOLD.

THIS PLASTIC INJECTION MOLDING
PROCESS

CASTS PIECES OF PLASTIC
CALLED PREFORMS,

STARTER SHAPES
THAT SUBSEQUENT MACHINES

WILL TRANSFORM
INTO BOTTLES OR JARS.

THE MOLDED PREFORMS HARDEN
ALMOST INSTANTLY,

THANKS TO A BUILT-IN
COOLING SYSTEM.

THESE PREFORMS
ARE NOW ON THEIR WAY

TO BECOMING SINGLE-SERVING
JUICE BOTTLES.

THIS IS ANOTHER PLASTIC
INJECTION MOLDING MACHINE.

IT USES THE SAME METHOD
TO MAKE PREFORMS

FOR A DIFFERENT MODEL --
1 1/2- TO 2-LITER BOTTLES.

THE PREFORM'S NEXT STOP

IS A MACHINE CALLED
A REHEAT STRETCH-BLOW MOLDER.

IN A MATTER OF SECONDS,

IT HEATS EACH PREFORM
JUST ENOUGH

TO MAKE THE PLASTIC MALLEABLE,

THEN INSERTS A ROD TO STRETCH
THE PREFORM LENGTHWISE

WHILE AT THE SAME TIME
BLOWING IN AIR

AT EXTREMELY HIGH PRESSURE.

THIS FORCES THE PREFORM
INTO A BOTTLE-SHAPED MOLD.

COLD WATER CIRCULATES
WITHIN THE MOLD

TO COOL AND SET THE PLASTIC
ALMOST INSTANTLY.

THIS LIGHTNING-FAST MACHINE

CHURNS OUT 10,600 BOTTLES
PER HOUR.

NO WONDER WE'VE HAD TO SHOW IT
TO YOU IN SLOW MOTION.

A CONVEYOR BELT TRANSPORTS
THE FINISHED BOTTLES

TO THE PACKAGING AREA.

BEFORE BLOW MOLDING,

THE PREFORMS FOR CERTAIN MODELS
FIRST PASS THROUGH AN OVEN.

A TECHNICIAN SETS THE HEAT LEVEL

OF EACH INFRARED OVEN LAMP
INDIVIDUALLY,

APPLYING MORE OR LESS HEAT
AT VARIOUS POINTS

TO INFLUENCE THE THICKNESS
AND SHAPING OF THE PLASTIC.

FROM THE OVEN,

THE PREFORMS GO INTO ANOTHER
REHEAT STRETCH-BLOW MOLDER

THAT TRANSFORMS THEM
INTO PEANUT JARS.

IT'S THE SAME PROCESS
FOR THIS PEANUT BUTTER JAR.

AFTER MOLDING, THE MACHINE
INSTANTLY COOLS THE PLASTIC,

LOCKING IN THE SHAPE.

THE FACTORY PULLS SAMPLES OFF
THE LINE AT REGULAR INTERVALS

FOR QUALITY-CONTROL TESTING.

TECHNICIANS MEASURE
THE THICKNESS OF THE PLASTIC

AND PERFORM A COMPRESSION TEST
TO GAUGE ITS STRENGTH.

THEY VERIFY THE SAMPLE'S
DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITY.

THEY ALSO EVALUATE RESISTANCE
TO VACUUM PRESSURE

BECAUSE CONTAINERS ARE OFTEN
VACUUM SEALED AFTER FILLING.

SOME MODELS
MUST ALSO BE STRONG ENOUGH

TO RESIST THE PRESSURE
OF THEIR CONTENTS --

CARBONATED SOFT DRINKS,
FOR INSTANCE.

THE RECYCLED MATERIAL USED IN
MAKING THESE BOTTLES AND JARS

DOESN'T COME
FROM USED PLASTIC CONTAINERS.

FOR HYGIENIC REASONS,

THE FACTORY RECYCLES
ONLY NEW PLASTIC

LEFT OVER
FROM ITS MANUFACTURING PROCESS.

THE FINISHED CONTAINERS,
OF COURSE, ARE FULLY RECYCLABLE.

THEY'RE TYPICALLY REPROCESSED
INTO OTHER PLASTIC PRODUCTS

OR INTO PRODUCTS
THAT CONTAIN SOME PLASTIC.

Narrator: WHAT DO THE LETTERS
"F," "D," "I," "O," AND "U"

HAVE IN COMMON?

THEY'RE ALL PART OF POSTAL CODES

USED IN ABBREVIATIONS
FOR STATE NAMES.

THESE LETTERS AND NUMBERS
ARE READ BY HIGH-TECH MACHINES

THAT SORT OUR MAIL.

THE TRUCKS UNLOAD THE CONTAINERS
PICKED UP FROM POSTAL OUTLETS...

AND BAGS OF MAIL THAT WERE
COLLECTED FROM PUBLIC MAILBOXES.

THE CONTAINERS GO STRAIGHT
TO AUTOMATED SORTING.

THEIR CONTENTS HAVE ALREADY
BEEN CLASSIFIED BY SIZE.

NOT SO FOR THE BAGS.

POSTAL WORKERS EMPTY THEM
AND PUT STANDARD-SIZE ENVELOPES

ON A CONVEYOR BELT LEADING
TO ONE SORTING MACHINE...

...AND LARGE ENVELOPES
INTO A BIN DESTINED FOR ANOTHER.

THE STANDARD-SIZED LETTERS
TRAVEL TO A HIGH-SPEED,

HIGH-TECH MACHINE
THAT CHECKS FOR POSTAGE.

STAMPS CONTAIN AN INVISIBLE
FLUORESCENT MATERIAL

THAT ILLUMINATES
UNDER ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT.

THE MACHINE'S U.V. SENSOR SCANS
BOTH SIDES OF EVERY ENVELOPE.

NO GLOW, NO GO.

LETTERS WITH POSTAGE
ARE CANCELED WITH A POSTMARK

SO THE STAMPS CAN'T BE REUSED.

THE POSTAL MARK
CONTAINS THE DATE, THE STATE,

AND THE SORTING PLANT'S
POSTAL CODE.

NEXT STOP, A MACHINE

CALLED THE MULTILINE OPTICAL
CHARACTER READER...

AN IMPRESSIVE PIECE OF EQUIPMENT

THAT PROCESSES
UP TO 30,000 LETTERS PER HOUR.

IT READS
AND DIGITALLY PHOTOGRAPHS

EACH DESTINATION ADDRESS,

MATCHING IT TO THE COMPUTER'S
ADDRESS DATABASE.

THEN IT PRINTS THE POSTAL CODE

IN BARCODE FORMAT
ON THE FRONT OF THE ENVELOPE.

A SCANNER NOW READS THE BARCODES
AND DOES A PRELIMINARY SORTING.

LOCAL AND REGIONAL MAIL
STAYS HERE

AND MOVES ON
TO THE NEXT SORTING MACHINE

FOR A MORE DETAILED BREAKDOWN.

LETTERS ADDRESSED
TO OTHER REGIONS

GO TO THE POSTAL PLANTS THERE,

WHERE A THOROUGH SORTING
WILL TAKE PLACE.

BUT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ALL THIS
SOPHISTICATED TECHNOLOGY

JUST CAN'T MAKE OUT THE ADDRESS

DUE TO, SAY, SLOPPY HANDWRITING
OR SMUDGED INK?

THE OPTICAL CHARACTER READER
MACHINE PUTS THE LETTER ON HOLD

AND SENDS THE ADDRESS PHOTO
TO THE VIDEO ENCODING SYSTEM.

A POSTAL WORKER
DECIPHERS THE WRITING

AND TYPES IN THE POSTAL CODE,

SENDING THE LETTER BACK
INTO THE SORTING SYSTEM.

NOW THE LOCAL AND REGIONAL MAIL

GOES THROUGH WHAT'S CALLED
THE BCS -- THE BARCODE SORTER.

THIS PERFORMS A MORE DETAILED
SORTING BY POSTAL ROUTE.

THE MACHINE SCANS THE BARCODES

AT A RATE OF 30,000 LETTERS
PER HOUR, SENDING THE MAIL

TO THE CORRESPONDING
LETTER CARRIER'S BIN.

A WORKER PREPS THE MAIL

FOR EACH ROUTE, GROUPING
AND LABELING IT BY SECTOR.

MEANWHILE, THE LARGE ENVELOPES

GO THROUGH WHAT'S CALLED
THE FLAT SORTING MACHINE.

IT DOES WHAT THREE MACHINES DID

FOR THE STANDARD-SIZED
LETTERS --

POSTMARKS THE STAMP,
READS THE ADDRESS,

APPLIES A BARCODE STICKER,
READS THE BARCODE,

SORTS THE MAIL, AND DROPS IT

INTO THE CORRESPONDING
LETTER CARRIER'S BIN.

IF THE MACHINE CAN'T MAKE OUT
AN ADDRESS,

THE ENVELOPE GOES
FOR MANUAL SORTING.

IN MANUAL SORTING,

POSTAL WORKERS HANDLE MORE
THAN JUST ILLEGIBLE ADDRESSES.

THEY ALSO HAND SORT MAIL
GOING OUT OF COUNTRY

AND ENVELOPES
THAT ARE TOO THICK OR BULKY

TO GO THROUGH
THE AUTOMATED MACHINES.

AT ALL STAGES
OF MAIL PROCESSING AND DELIVERY,

WORKERS ARE ON THE LOOKOUT

FOR ENVELOPES BEARING
INSUFFICIENT POSTAGE.

THOSE LETTERS
ARE RETURNED TO SENDER.

LETTER CARRIERS SORT THE MAIL

FOR THE ROUTES BY STREET
AND HOUSE NUMBER.

IF THEY HAVE A WALKING ROUTE,

THEY LOAD UP THEIR FIRST BAGFUL
AND HEAD OFF.

A TRUCK DELIVERS THE REST

TO A LOCKED BOX ALONG THE ROUTE
CALLED A RELAY BOX.

CARRIERS PICK UP THE REST OF
THEIR MAIL WHEN THEY PASS BY IT.

SOME LETTER CARRIERS HAVE
WHAT'S CALLED A MOTORIZED ROUTE.

THEY DELIVER ALL THEIR
CUSTOMERS' MAIL BY TRUCK,

WHICH SURE BEATS WALKING
DOOR-TO-DOOR IN A BLIZZARD.

Narrator: HENS DON'T HAVE TO
MATE TO LAY EGGS,

AND AS LONG AS THERE'S NO
ROOSTER IN THE VICINITY,

THE EGGS WILL REMAIN
UNFERTILIZED AND EDIBLE.

THE COLOR OF THE SHELL IS
DETERMINED BY THE BREED OF HEN,

BUT THERE'S NO PECKING ORDER

WHEN IT COMES
TO SHELL COLOR.

WHITE OR BROWN,
ALL EGGS ARE THE SAME INSIDE.

THE ACTION BEGINS
IN THE HEN HOUSE,

WHERE FEMALE CHICKENS
START LAYING EGGS

WHEN THEY'RE 19 WEEKS OLD.

THE BUILDING IS WELL-VENTILATED,

AND THE TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY
ARE STRICTLY CONTROLLED.

TO STIMULATE LAYING,

FLUORESCENT LIGHTING
SIMULATES 15 HOURS OF DAYLIGHT.

THE HENS EAT A MEASURED AMOUNT
OF FOOD THREE TIMES A DAY.

THEIR FEED IS MADE UP
OF VARIOUS GRAINS

MIXED WITH SOYBEANS FOR PROTEIN.

IT'S FORTIFIED WITH VITAMINS
AND MINERALS

AND CONTAIN CALCIUM
TO STRENGTHEN THE EGGSHELLS.

THE HENS DRINK WATER
FROM NIPPLE-ENDED TUBES

ATTACHED TO THEIR CAGES.

ALL THESE
CAREFULLY MONITORED CONDITIONS

ARE DESIGNED
TO MAXIMIZE THE YIELD.

THE AVERAGE HEN
LAYS ABOUT 300 EGGS A YEAR.

THE CAGE FLOOR IS SLOPED

SO THE EGGS AUTOMATICALLY ROLL
ONTO A CONVEYOR BELT.

THEN IT'S ONTO
A LARGER CONVEYOR BELT,

WHICH TRANSPORTS THE EGGS
TO THE PACKING ROOM.

THE HENS' MANURE DROPS THROUGH
THE BOTTOM OF THEIR CAGES

ONTO A CONVEYOR BELOW.

EVEN SO, SOME EGGS GET DIRTY.

THEY'LL BE THOROUGHLY CLEANED
AND DISINFECTED LATER ON.

AUTOMATED EQUIPMENT TRANSFERS
THE EGGS ONTO PLASTIC FLATS.

IT PLACES THEM WIDE-END UP

TO KEEP THE YOLKS
PROPERLY CENTERED.

THE FLATS GO INTO A COLD ROOM

UNTIL A REFRIGERATED TRUCK SHIPS
THEM TO THE GRADING STATION,

WHOSE JOB IS TO CLASSIFY
THE EGGS BY QUALITY.

THE BEST, GRADE "A,"
END UP ON SUPERMARKET SHELVES.

LESSER GRADES
GO TO PROCESSING PLANTS

TO BE TURNED INTO INGREDIENTS
USED IN FOODS, PHARMACEUTICALS,

AND PRODUCTS SUCH AS SHAMPOOS.

THIS AUTOMATED STATION
IS HIGH-TECH AND HIGH-SPEED,

PROCESSING 144,000 EGGS
PER HOUR.

FIRST, A SUCTION MACHINE LIFTS
THE EGGS OFF THE FLATS

AND TRANSFERS THEM
ONTO A MOVING TRACK

LEADING TO THE CLEANING STATION.

THERE, A WASHER
GENTLY SCRUBS THE EGGS

WITH SOAP AND DISINFECTANT.

THE WATER IS JUST OVER
100 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT.

ANYTHING HOTTER
WOULD COOK THE EGGS.

THEN, IT'S INTO A DRYER
FOR FIVE SECONDS,

WHERE A FAN SUCKS UP
THE MOISTURE.

THE EGGS THEN PASS OVER
A BRIGHT LIGHT,

WHICH HIGHLIGHTS
THE CONDITION OF THE SHELLS.

WORKERS DO A PRELIMINARY
VISUAL INSPECTION,

REMOVING ANY THAT ARE CRACKED.

A GRADING CAMERA ABOVE

ASSESSES THE CONDITION
AND QUALITY

OF THE SHELL'S EXTERIOR.

FURTHER DOWN THE LINE,

OTHER CAMERAS WILL INSPECT
THE INTERIOR FOR BLOOD.

TO CHECK THE STRENGTH
OF THE EGGSHELLS,

ACOUSTIC SENSORS
TAP ON THE EGGS.

THEY DETECT BRITTLE SHELLS BY
THE DIFFERENT SOUND OF THE TAP.

THE INSPECTION MACHINES MARK
AND REJECT ANY EGG

THAT DOESN'T MAKE THE GRADE --
GRADE "A," THAT IS.

THE APPROVED EGGS MOVE ON
TO ELECTRONIC SCALES,

WHICH REGISTER THEIR WEIGHT
CLASS FROM PEEWEE TO JUMBO.

PRESSURE-CONTROLLED CLAWS
THEN TRANSPORT THEM

TO THE CORRESPONDING
PACKAGING LINE.

ON THE WAY, EVERY EGG GETS
STAMPED WITH A LOT NUMBER

FOR QUALITY-CONTROL TRACKING.

THE PACKING MACHINE
STAMPS THE EGG CARTONS

WITH A "BEST BEFORE" DATE.

THE EGGS HAVE A SHELF LIFE
OF 35 DAYS.

AS FOR THE HENS,

THEIR EXPIRATION DATE
COMES AT 72 WEEKS,

WHEN THE EGGS THEY LAY ARE
NO LONGER CONSUMPTION-QUALITY.

FOR ALL THEIR HARD WORK,

THEY WIN AN ALL-EXPENSES-PAID
TRIP TO THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE.

Narrator: A PEN SET IS A CLASSIC
GIFT FOR ANY OCCASION,

BE IT A BIRTHDAY, GRADUATION,
OR PROMOTION.

WE'RE NOT TALKING PENS

OF THE INEXPENSIVE,
BALL-POINT VARIETY...

BUT RATHER THOSE CADILLAC MODELS

IN SLEEK METAL
OR SUMPTUOUS WOOD.

THE QUILL DATES BACK
TO ABOUT 700 A.D.

MADE FROM A BIRD FEATHER,

IT'S TIP HAD TO BE REPEATEDLY
DIPPED IN INK.

MESSY AND INEFFICIENT,

THE QUILL REMAINED THE NORM
FOR MORE THAN 1,000 YEARS.

IN 1884,

AN AMERICAN INVENTED
THE FOUNTAIN PEN,

WITH ITS BUILT-IN
REFILLABLE INK BARREL.

BUT THE TRUE REVOLUTION CAME
WITH THE NO-FUSS BALL-POINT PEN

PATENTED BY TWO HUNGARIAN
BROTHERS IN 1938.

HANDCRAFTED WOODEN PENS CAN BE
MADE FROM JUST ONE TYPE OF WOOD

OR FROM A COMBINATION OF WOODS.

THIS ARTISAN
USES SOME 50 DIFFERENT KINDS,

RANGING FROM DOMESTIC MAPLE
AND OAK

TO IMPORTED ROSEWOOD, EBONY,
OLIVE WOOD, AND PURPLEHEART.

WHEN USING JUST ONE TYPE
OF WOOD,

HE RUNS THE BLOCK
THROUGH A BAND SAW,

CUTTING A STRIP
6/10 OF AN INCH WIDE.

THEN, WITH A RADIAL SAW,

HE CUTS THAT STRIP
INTO TWO PIECES,

EACH ABOUT TWO INCHES LONG.

THESE WILL BECOME THE PEN'S TOP
AND BOTTOM CASINGS.

USING A TOOL
CALLED A DRILL PRESS,

HE BORES A HOLE ROUGHLY
3/10 OF AN INCH IN DIAMETER

RIGHT THROUGH EACH PIECE.

MAKING A PEN
FROM A COMBINATION OF WOODS

TAKES A LITTLE MORE WORK.

INSTEAD OF USING A BLOCK
OF SOLID WOOD,

HE CONSTRUCTS A BLOCK

BY GLUING TOGETHER THIN PLANKS
OF CONTRASTING WOODS.

ONCE THE GLUE DRIES,
HE USES A WOOD PLANER

TO REMOVE THE EXCESS
AND SMOOTH OUT THE SIDES.

THEN, JUST AS HE DID
FOR THE SINGLE-WOOD PEN,

HE CUTS THE BLOCK INTO STRIPS
6/10 OF AN INCH WIDE.

THIS TIME, HE SLICES DIAGONALLY

SO THAT EACH STRIP SHOWCASES
THE MULTIPLE WOODS.

AGAIN, HE CUTS PIECES
FOR THE TOP AND BOTTOM CASINGS,

THEN DRILLS A HOLE THROUGH THEM.

FROM THIS POINT ON, WHETHER
HE'S USING ONE OR MORE WOODS,

THE PROCESS IS THE SAME.

HE COATS TWO BRASS TUBES
WITH GLUE

AND INSERTS ONE IN EACH CASING.

A FEW DROPS OF WATER ARE ADDED
TO EXPAND THE ADHESIVE

INTO ANY GAPS BETWEEN THE TUBE
AND SURROUNDING WOOD.

THESE BRASS TUBES
WILL HOUSE THE PEN'S MECHANISM.

THE GLUE
TAKES ABOUT AN HOUR TO DRY.

THEN HE USES WHAT'S CALLED
A HAND MILL

TO SQUARE ALL THE ANGLES
AND REMOVE THE EXCESS GLUE.

NOW FOR THE ARTISTIC PART.

HE TURNS THE CASINGS
ON A LATHE TO SHAPE THEM.

FIRST, HE ROUNDS THEM OUT.

THEN, USING A SERIES OF TOOLS,

HE GIVES EACH CASING
UNIQUE DETAILING.

HE HIGHLIGHTS THE GROOVES
BY USING THE HEAT

THAT FRICTION GENERATES
TO BURN THEM DARK.

WHEN THE DESIGN WORK'S DONE,

HE RUNS SANDING CORD
INSIDE THE GROOVES.

THEN HE SANDS THE SURFACE
THREE TIMES

WITH PROGRESSIVELY FINER
SANDPAPER.

TO PROTECT THE WOOD,

HE VARNISHES THE CASINGS

WITH FOUR COATS
OF HARDWOOD-FLOOR VARNISH,

SANDING BETWEEN
EACH APPLICATION.

WHEN THE LAST COAT DRIES,
HE CAN ASSEMBLE THE PEN,

STARTING WITH THE TIP.

HE GLUES IT
TO THE BOTTOM CASING,

TAPPING IT WITH A MALLET
TO ENSURE IT'S FULLY INSERTED.

THE TIP IS MADE OF TITANIUM,
A VERY RESILIENT METAL.

NEXT COMES THE CLIP,
ALSO MADE OF TITANIUM.

HE GLUES IT INTO THE TOP CASING.

FINALLY, USING A VISE,

HE FORCES IN
THE PEN'S MECHANISM.

THE MECHANISM HOUSES
A REPLACEABLE INK CARTRIDGE.

A TITANIUM RING
JOINS THE TWO CASINGS.

AS AN ADDED TOUCH,

THE PEN CAN BE PERSONALIZED
WITH AN ENGRAVED CLIP.

AND THE GIFT BOX CAN BEAR
THE RECIPIENT'S NAME

OR A CORPORATE LOGO.