How It's Made (2001–…): Season 4, Episode 7 - 3D Commercial Signs/Hardwood Floors/Corrugated Polyethylene Pipe/Mattresses - full transcript

Discover the manufacturing secrets of 3D commercial signs, hardwood floors, corrugated polyethylene pipe, and mattresses.


CAPTIONS PAID FOR BY
DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS, INC.

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

THREE-DIMENSIONAL
COMMERCIAL SIGHS...

...HARDWOOD FLOORS...

...CORRUGATED
POLYETHYLENE PIPE...

...AND MATTRESSES.

THERE'S NOTHING
LIKE AN EYE-CATCHING SIGN

TO ATTRACT CUSTOMERS.

MANY SIGNS HAVE
THREE-DIMENSIONAL LETTERING

OR DECORATION.

WHETHER YOU HANG A SMALL PLAQUE,
AN OLD-FASHIONED SHINGLE,

OR A HUGE OVERHEAD SIGN,

A BUSINESS NAME IN 3-D
REALLY STANDS OUT.

THESE SIGNS ARE MADE

OF HIGH-DENSITY
POLYURETHANE FOAM --

A MATERIAL THAT'S WATERPROOF
AND VERY DURABLE.

THE SIGN STARTS OUT
AS A LINE DRAWING,

WHICH THEY RENDER
INTO THREE DIMENSIONS

USING SPECIALIZED SOFTWARE.

THEY SEND THE FILE
TO A COMPUTER-CONTROLLED ROUTER

THAT CARVES THE DESIGN
INTO A PIECE OF FOAM.

THE ROUTER CAN BE OUTFITTED
WITH VARIOUS BLADES

TO GET DIFFERENT EFFECTS,
SUCH AS ROUNDED EDGES

OR THIS FACETED EFFECT
KNOWN AS PRISMATIC LETTERING.

ONCE THEY'VE FINISHED
CARVING THE DESIGN,

THEY SWITCH THE ROUTER BLADE
TO AN END MILL --

A CUTTING TOOL THAT SLICES
STRAIGHT DOWN THROUGH THE FOAM.

GUIDED ONCE AGAIN
BY THE COMPUTER,

THE ROUTER GRADUALLY DETACHES
THE DESIGN'S COMPONENTS.

AFTER COATING THE PIECES
WITH PRIMER,

THEY SPRAY THEM
WITH TWO TO THREE COATS

OF POLYURETHANE PAINT.

IT DRIES TO A DURABLE,
HARD-AS-PLASTIC FINISH.

THIS DESIGN CALLS
FOR GOLD AND BLACK LETTERING.

THEY'LL USE GOLD LEAF
INSTEAD OF GOLD PAINT

BECAUSE IT LASTS LONGER
AND HAS FINER COLOR AND LUSTER.

FIRST, THEY BRUSH ON A SPECIAL
GLUE FOR GOLD LEAF CALLED SIZE.

THEY WAIT 12 HOURS
UNTIL IT BECOMES TACKY.

WET GLUE WOULD MERELY ABSORB THE
GOLD, PRODUCING A DULL FINISH.

GOLD LEAF CRUMBLES
AT THE SLIGHTEST TOUCH,

SO IT COMES ON A PAPER BACKING,
MAKING IT EASIER TO APPLY.

GOLD LEAF IS AVAILABLE
IN DIFFERENT QUALITIES.

THE LOWER THE KARAT LEVEL,
THE MORE ALLOY IT CONTAINS.

THIS IS 23-KARAT LEAF --

THE CLOSEST YOU CAN GET
TO PURE GOLD.

BECAUSE IT CONTAINS
NO OTHER METALS,

IT WON'T OXIDIZE, TARNISH,
OR DULL

DESPITE ACID RAIN, ROAD SALT,
OR OTHER HARSH ELEMENTS.

USING SILICONE AND SCREWS,

THEY MOUNT THE LETTERING
ONTO A PAINTED ALUMINUM FRAME.

ANOTHER OPTION WOULD BE
TO MOUNT THEM

ON A PAINTED BACKGROUND PLAQUE

MADE OF THE SAME FOAM
AS THE LETTERS.

DESIGNS CAN ALSO BE ENGRAVED
DIRECTLY INTO A PLAQUE

AND THEN HIGHLIGHTED
USING EITHER PAINT OR GOLD LEAF.

THEY USE VINYL FILM TO MASK THE
PARTS THAT WON'T BE DECORATED.

THIS TIME THEY APPLY
LOOSE GOLD LEAF

BECAUSE IT'S EASIER TO BRUSH
INTO SMALL AREAS.

WHEN THE GOLD LEAFING IS DONE,
THEY CAREFULLY REMOVE THE FILM.

THIS FACTORY MAKES SIGNS
OUT OF A VARIETY OF MATERIALS --

EVERYTHING FROM WOOD
TO STAINLESS STEEL TO PLEXIGLAS.

THE MATERIAL USED
IS DETERMINED PRIMARILY

BY WHETHER THE SIGN
WILL HANG INDOORS OR OUT.

BESIDES LETTERING,
SIGNS OFTEN INCORPORATE

3-D OBJECTS MADE OF RESIN
OR FIBERGLASS.

THE FACTORY CASTS THESE
COMPONENTS IN MOLDS,

THEN PAINTS AND MOUNTS THEM.

THEY'LL CREATE THIS SIGN IN
VARIOUS THICKNESSES OF ALUMINUM.

THE SAME COMPUTER-GUIDED ROUTER
DOES THE CUTTING,

BUT NOW THEY HAVE TO CONTINUALLY
DOUSE ITS BLADE WITH COOLANT

TO PREVENT
THE FRICTION-GENERATED HEAT

FROM MELTING THE METAL.

THEY COAT THE COMPONENTS
WITH METAL PRIMER

BEFORE APPLYING
POLYURETHANE PAINT.

ASSEMBLY IS SIMPLE.

THEY SCREW ALUMINUM STUDS
TO THE BACK OF ALL THE PIECES,

THEN BOLT THEM ONTO
THE BACKGROUND PLAQUE.

THANKS TO THE WONDERS
OF COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY,

DESIGN POSSIBILITIES
ARE VIRTUALLY ENDLESS --

A TRUE SIGN OF THE TIMES.

Narrator: THERE WAS A TIME WHEN
EXPOSING YOUR HARDWOOD FLOORS

MEANT YOU COULDN'T AFFORD
WALL-TO-WALL CARPETING.

NOT ANYMORE.

HARDWOOD FLOORS
ARE DEFINITELY IN,

AND TODAY THERE ARE SO MANY
WOOD AND STAIN COLOR CHOICES,

HARDWOOD FLOORS
CAN SUIT ANY DECOR.

THE TYPES OF WOOD COMMONLY USED
FOR FLOORING INCLUDE RED OAK...

BEECH...

MAPLE...

WHITE OAK...

WALNUT...

BIRCH...

AND ASH.

AS SOON AS THE WOOD ARRIVES
FROM THE SAWMILL,

WORKERS AT THE FLOOR FACTORY
STACK IT ON RACKS,

THEN PILE THE RACKS
FLOOR TO CEILING

IN A DRYER THAT'S THE SIZE
OF A LARGE BARN.

THERE, LARGE FANS CIRCULATE
HOT AIR AROUND THE RACKS.

THE WOOD'S MOISTURE CONTENT
IS BETWEEN 40% AND 60%,

DEPENDING ON THE SEASON.

WHEN THAT DROPS TO ABOUT 7%,
THE WOOD IS READY TO COME OUT.

THIS DRYING PROCESS

TAKES ANYWHERE FROM 10 DAYS
TO A MONTH.

THE LENGTH OF TIME VARIES

BECAUSE SOME TYPES OF WOOD
DRY MUCH SLOWER THAN OTHERS.

THE WOOD IS IN RANDOM LENGTHS
AND WIDTHS,

SO THE FIRST STEP AFTER DRYING
IS TO CUT IT TO STANDARD SIZES.

ON THE WAY TO THE RIPSAW,

THE PLANKS PASS UNDER AN OPTICAL
DEVICE CALLED AN OPTIMIZER.

IN MERE SECONDS, IT READS
THE DIMENSIONS OF EACH PLANK

AND SENDS THAT INFORMATION
TO A COMPUTER.

THE COMPUTER CALCULATES
THE GREATEST NUMBER

OF STANDARD-SIZE PIECES
THAT CAN BE CUT FROM THE PLANK,

THEN GUIDES THE RIPSAW
TO CUT ACCORDINGLY.

THIS MAXIMIZES THE YIELD
AND LIMITS WASTE.

FLOORING IS MADE
FROM MEDIUM-QUALITY

RATHER THAN TOP-QUALITY LUMBER
TO KEEP PRICES COMPETITIVE.

AS THE PIECES EXIT THE SAW,

WORKERS MANUALLY CUT OUT ANY
LARGE KNOTS OR OTHER DEFECTS --

WEAK POINTS AT WHICH A PIECE
COULD POTENTIALLY SNAP

AND JAM UP THE EQUIPMENT.

THE PIECES NOW TRAVEL
TO A MACHINE CALLED THE MOLDER.

ITS REVOLVING STEEL KNIVES
SPIN AT A RATE

OF 6,000 ROTATIONS PER MINUTE,

CARVING A TONGUE DOWN ONE SIDE
OF EACH PIECE

AND A GROOVE DOWN THE OTHER.

WORKERS DO FREQUENT SPOT CHECKS

TO MAKE SURE THE TONGUES
AND GROOVES FIT TOGETHER SNUGLY.

THE NEXT MACHINE CARVES GROOVES

ON WHAT WILL BE THE UNDERSIDE
OF THE PIECES.

THIS IS FOR AIR CIRCULATION
AND STABILITY.

USING CROSSCUT SAWS,

WORKERS REMOVE ANY FAULTS
IN THE WOOD

AND DIVIDE PIECES THAT HAVE
NOTICEABLE COLOR VARIATIONS.

THIS IS THE FIRST STEP TOWARDS
SORTING THE WOOD BY GRADE.

NOW A MACHINE CALLED
AN END MATCHER

CARVES A TONGUE AND GROOVE
ON THE TWO ENDS.

HERE'S THE VIEW
FROM INSIDE THE MACHINE.

WORKERS CHECK AGAIN FOR FAULTS,

THEN, ASSESSING QUALITY AND
COLOR, SORT EACH PIECE BY GRADE.

THIS WILL BE PREFINISHED
FLOORING,

SO THE PIECES
NOW RUN THROUGH A SANDER

TO PREPARE THEM TO RECEIVE
EIGHT COATS OF VARNISH.

FOR CERTAIN FINISHES, THE FIRST
COAT CONTAINS WOOD STAIN.

ALL SUBSEQUENT COATS
ARE COLORLESS.

BETWEEN EACH APPLICATION,

ULTRAVIOLET LAMPS DRY
THE VARNISH IN JUST SECONDS.

AS THE FLOORING EXITS
THE LAST DRYING OVEN,

IT'S READY FOR PACKAGING.

UNFINISHED HARDWOOD FLOORING

HAS TO BE SANDED, STAINED, AND
VARNISHED AFTER IT'S INSTALLED.

PREFINISHED FLOORING
ELIMINATES THAT EXTRA WORK,

SPARING YOU THE DUST,
THE DRYING TIME, AND THE SMELL.

Narrator: DRAINAGE PIPES
ARE VITAL TO MANY INDUSTRIES.

THE PIPES ARE GENERALLY MADE
OUT OF PLASTIC,

AND THEY'RE
AN IMPORTANT COMPONENT

OF MUNICIPAL INFRASTRUCTURE.

CITIES USE THEM

TO PREVENT STREETS FROM FLOODING
IN HEAVY RAIN.

FORESTRY COMPANIES USE THEM
AS CULVERTS

WHEN BUILDING LOGGING ROADS
OVER STREAMS.

THIS CORRUGATED PIPE IS MADE
FROM A TYPE OF PLASTIC

CALLED HIGH-DENSITY
POLYETHYLENE, OR H.D.P.E.

THE PIPE FACTORY COMBINES THREE
VARIETIES OF H.D.P.E. PELLETS --

PLAIN PELLETS, RECYCLED PELLETS,

AND PELLETS WITH A COLORANT
THAT PROVIDES U.V. PROTECTION.

THE PROPORTIONS VARY DEPENDING
ON THE PIPE'S INTENDED USE.

THE MIXER TRANSFERS THE PELLETS

TO A MACHINE
CALLED THE EXTRUDER.

IT FIRST HEATS THEM
TO ABOUT 450 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT.

THIS MELTS THEM
INTO A THICK LIQUID.

THEN IT ASSEMBLES
WHAT'S CALLED THE CORRUGATOR --

A MOLD WHOSE CAVITY IS
THE SHAPE OF A CORRUGATED PIPE.

THE EXTRUDER INJECTS
THE LIQUEFIED H.D.P.E.

INTO THE CORRUGATOR,
APPLYING VACUUM PRESSURE

TO SPREAD IT EVENLY
INTO ALL THE CREVICES.

A BUILT-IN COOLING SYSTEM
HARDENS THE PLASTIC

JUST ENOUGH TO SET THE SHAPE,

ENABLING THEM TO EXTRACT
THE PIPE FROM THE MOLD.

THE PIPE THEN PASSES THROUGH
A COLD-WATER SHOWER,

WHICH HARDENS THE PLASTIC
COMPLETELY.

THE PIPE NOW ENTERS
A MACHINE CALLED THE PERFORATOR,

WHICH PUNCHES HOLES
AROUND THE CIRCUMFERENCE.

THESE HOLES, WHOSE SIZE VARIES
BY MODEL, SERVE TWO PURPOSES.

FIRST, THEY MAKE
THE PIPE LIGHTER

AND THEREFORE EASIER
TO TRANSPORT AND INSTALL.

SECOND, THEY ENABLE WATER
TO ENTER THE PIPE CONSTANTLY

AT VIRTUALLY ANY LOCATION, THEN
FLOW TO THE END AND DRAIN OUT.

IT'S CRUCIAL TO PREVENT SOIL
FROM CLOGGING THESE HOLES,

SO THIS NEXT MACHINE
WRAPS THE PIPE

IN A FILTER CLOTH
MADE OF POLYESTER.

THEY DON'T WANT THIS FILTER
CLOTH TO UNRAVEL,

SO THE MACHINE
HEAT-SEALS IT CLOSED.

THIS CORRUGATED
POLYETHYLENE PIPE IS FINISHED

AND READY TO BE PACKAGED
AND SHIPPED.

THE PACKAGING LINE
IS HIGHLY AUTOMATED.

ROBOTIC EQUIPMENT FIRST COILS
THE LENGTH OF PIPE

THAT THE CUSTOMER ORDERED.

THEN IT CUTS THE END.

THE ROBOTS TIE THE COIL
AT SEVERAL POINTS

SO THAT IT DOESN'T UNRAVEL.

WORKERS NOW TRANSFER
THE COILED PIPE

TO A MACHINE THAT COVERS IT
IN PLASTIC STRETCH WRAP.

THIS COVERING WILL PROTECT
THE FILTER CLOTH

FROM THE DAMAGING EFFECTS
OF DIRT, MOISTURE, AND LIGHT.

THIS FACTORY ALSO PRODUCES
WHAT'S CALLED DOUBLE-WALL PIPE,

WHICH HAS A CORRUGATED OUTSIDE
WALL AND A SMOOTH INSIDE WALL.

THIS TYPE OF PIPE
DRAINS MORE EFFICIENTLY

BECAUSE WATER FLOWS FASTER
OVER A FLAT SURFACE

THAN OVER THE REPEATED PEAKS
AND VALLEYS OF A CORRUGATED ONE.

MAKING THIS TYPE OF PIPE
REQUIRES TWO EXTRUDERS --

ONE TO FORM EACH WALL.

SAMPLES FROM EVERY
PRODUCTION RUN

GO THROUGH SEVERAL
QUALITY-CONTROL TESTS.

THIS COMPRESSION STRENGTH TEST
ENSURES THE PIPE WON'T BUCKLE

UNDER THE WEIGHT
OF THE EARTH ABOVE IT.

HIGH-DENSITY POLYETHYLENE PIPE

MAY BE LIGHTWEIGHT
COMPARED TO CEMENT PIPE,

BUT IT'S EQUALLY RESISTANT

TO PRESSURE, CHEMICALS,
AND ABRASION.

Narrator:
MATTRESS ANATOMY 101.

THE COMFORT LAYER

IS THE QUILTED FABRIC TOP
AND THE UNDERLYING FOAM.

THE SUPPORT LAYER IS MADE UP
OF THE INTERIOR COILS

AND HEAVY-GAUGE WIRE
ALONG THE PERIMETER.

THE FOUNDATION, OR BOX SPRING,
IS A SEPARATE BOTTOM UNIT

THAT ACTS LIKE
A GIANT SHOCK ABSORBER.

FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS,
PEOPLE SLEPT ON THE FLOOR

ON PALETTES
STUFFED WITH NATURAL MATERIAL

SUCH AS STRAW, WOOL,
OR FEATHERS.

DURING THE MIDDLE AGES,

FAMILY MEMBERS WOULD SET DOWN
THEIR PALETTES

AROUND THE HOME'S
CENTRAL FIREPLACE.

ONLY ROYALTY AND THE WEALTHY
HAD SEPARATE SLEEPING QUARTERS

AND MATTRESSES
THAT SAT OFF THE FLOOR

ON A WOODEN FRAME
CALLED A BEDSTEAD.

BEDS DIDN'T BECOME COMMON
IN MIDDLE-CLASS HOMES

UNTIL THE 1600s.

THE COMFORT LAYER, OR QUILT,
STARTS WITH TICKING --

A COVER FABRIC MADE OF POLYESTER
OR COTTON POLYESTER.

UNDER THAT ARE LAYERS
OF POLYESTER CLOTH, FOAM,

AND FIBER.

LUXURY MATTRESSES CONTAIN WOOL,
SILK, OR CASHMERE FIBER.

THE ASSEMBLED LAYERS GO INTO
AN AUTOMATED SEWING MACHINE.

IT'S COMPUTER PROGRAMMED

TO STITCH ONE OF SEVERAL
QUILTED DESIGNS.

A ROLLER COMPRESSES
THE THICK PILE

TO ENABLE
THE 3-INCH-LONG NEEDLES

TO PIERCE THROUGH
ALL THE LAYERS.

THE TWO POLYESTER SHEETS
INSIDE THE QUILT ARE ESSENTIAL.

ONE IS DIRECTLY UNDER
THE TICKING.

IT ACTS AS A BARRIER
TO PREVENT SCRATCHY FIBERS

FROM POKING THROUGH THE TOP
OF THE MATTRESS.

THE OTHER IS AT THE BOTTOM
OF THE QUILT.

IT HOLDS THE STITCHES IN PLACE,

PREVENTING THE THREAD
FROM MOVING AROUND INSIDE

AND RIPPING THE FOAM.

A CUTTING WHEEL
NOW TRIMS THE QUILT

TO TWIN, DOUBLE, QUEEN,
OR KING SIZE,

LEAVING AN EXTRA 2 INCHES
ALL AROUND.

THIS SURPLUS ENSURES
THE FOAM WILL REACH

ALL THE WAY TO THE EDGE
ONCE THE QUILT'S SEWN UP.

THE SEWING TABLE
IS AIR-CUSHIONED,

LIKE AN AIR HOCKEY TABLE.

THIS FLOATS THE QUILT,

ENABLING THE SEAMSTRESS
TO MANEUVER IT EASILY.

AS SHE STITCHES THE QUILT
CLOSED,

SHE TRIMS OFF THE EXCESS

AND SEWS A POLYESTER BAND TO THE
UNDERSIDE ALONG THE PERIMETER.

MEANWHILE,

AN AUTOMATED SEWING MACHINE
PRODUCES THE MATTRESS SIDES

FROM THE SAME TICKING
USED FOR THE QUILT.

IT STITCHES THE FABRIC TO A FOAM
SHEET 4/10 OF AN INCH THICK,

MAKING A QUILTED DESIGN.

LOW-END MATTRESSES
HAVE UNQUILTED SIDE FABRIC.

ELSEWHERE IN THE FACTORY,
AS WE SEE HERE IN SLOW MOTION,

AUTOMATED MACHINES PRODUCE
THE GUTS OF THE MATTRESS --

THE COILS.

LOW-END MATTRESSES CONTAIN
CONTINUOUS COILS --

ROWS OF SPRINGS FORMED OUT
OF ONE LONG STRIP OF STEEL WIRE.

BETTER MATTRESSES
CONTAIN INDIVIDUAL COILS,

EACH FORMED FROM A SEPARATE
PIECE OF WIRE.

THIS MACHINE IS PRODUCING
OPEN COILS --

A TYPE OF INDIVIDUAL COIL
USED IN MID-QUALITY MATTRESSES.

OPEN COILS HAVE AN HOURGLASS
SHAPE AND ARE MADE OF STEEL.

LUXURY MATTRESSES
CONTAIN POCKET COILS --

INDIVIDUAL COILS
THAT ARE BARREL-SHAPED

AND MADE OF STEEL,
MANGANESE, AND CARBON --

A HIGH-STRENGTH COMBINATION
OF METALS.

THE COILS ARE INDIVIDUALLY
WRAPPED IN CLOTH POCKETS

TO PREVENT THEM
FROM TANGLING TOGETHER.

THIS MACHINE
IS PRODUCING OPEN COILS.

IT FIRST HEATS THE WIRE
WITH AN ELECTRIC CURRENT

TO MAKE THE METAL FLEXIBLE.

ONCE IT FORMS THE COIL,

IT CURLS THE TWO ENDS
OF THE WIRE LIKE A PIG'S TAIL.

THIS PIGTAIL FINISHING
PREVENTS THE SHARP ENDS

FROM POKING
THROUGH THE MATTRESS SURFACE.

THEY LINE UP THE OPEN COILS
IN ROWS,

THEN FEED THEM INTO A MACHINE
THAT CONNECTS THEM

BY RUNNING LONG STRIPS
OF PIGTAILED WIRE

ALONG THE TOPS AND BOTTOMS.

USING PIGTAILED WIRE AGAIN,

WORKERS ATTACH THICK,
STEEL EDGE WIRE

ALONG THE TOP
AND BOTTOM PERIMETERS

AND STEEL BRACKETS
CALLED EDGE GUARDS

AT STRATEGIC POINTS
ALONG THE SIDES.

THESE SUPPORTS
ARE WHAT KEEP THE MATTRESS FIRM

WHEN YOU SIT ON THE EDGE.

POCKET COILS ARE GLUED
TO EACH OTHER AT THE CENTER.

THIS ENABLES THEM TO MOVE
INDEPENDENTLY

SO THAT MOTION
ON ONE SIDE OF THE BED

WON'T AFFECT THE OTHER SIDE.

A REINFORCEMENT NETTING
HOLDS THE COILS IN POSITION.

WORKERS ATTACH THE EDGE WIRES
AND EDGE GUARDS

TO THE OUTER COILS
WITH THICK STAPLES.

THE REST OF THE ASSEMBLY PROCESS

IS THE SAME FOR ALL
TYPES OF MATTRESSES.

AFTER ADDING TWO LAYERS OF FOAM,

WORKERS ATTACH A QUILT
TO THE TOP AND BOTTOM

BY STAPLING THE POLYESTER BAND
ON THE QUILT'S UNDERSIDE

TO THE METAL COMPONENTS.

THE FINAL STEP
IS TO ATTACH THE SIDES.

A SPECIAL MACHINE
CALLED A MATTRESS CLOSER

JOINS THEM TO THE QUILTS

WITH A REINFORCEMENT STRIP
MADE OF DURABLE FABRIC.

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