Can you tell me how Crayola Colored Pencils are made?


In 1988, Crayola introduced colored pencils in their product line to fulfill consumer requests. Today, Crayola offers a variety of colored pencil assortments that are the essential creative tool for kids or the art enthusiast. Crayola colored pencils are manufactured in Brazil, Costa Rica or Vietnam due to their high-volume manufacturing capabilities.

The process of making Crayola Colored Pencils begins in the forest. Seedlings, which are young trees, are planted in fields much like a farmer plants a crop. Seedling crops grow into trees which are eventually used to make wood casings for the pencils. After a number of years, the trees are harvested, cut into even lengths, stacked onto trucks and shipped to the sawmill. Then, a new crop of seedlings is planted to replace those which have been harvested.

At the sawmill, lumber arriving by the truckload, is stacked in large piles and allowed to dry. Once dry, the lumber is fed into a bark stripping machine which removes all of the bark from each piece of lumber. Next, the lumber goes through a series of milling machines which cuts the lumber into rectangular slats. These slats are about as long as a colored pencil and about three inches wide. The slats are the building blocks for the production of colored pencils.

The slats are then transported to the pencil making plant. Here they are fed into another milling machine which cuts small semicircular grooves at regular intervals down the length of each slat. These grooved slats are now ready to accept a colored pencil lead.

In this case, lead is used as a generic term to describe the colored core of the pencils. Crayola Colored Pencils have been certified nontoxic by the Art and Creative Material Institute (ACMI) and bear the Approved Product (AP) seal. This seal assures consumers the product meets specific quality standards and contains no known toxic substances in sufficient quantities to be injurious to the human body, even if ingested.

To make a colored pencil lead, you need four raw materials: extenders which make up the body of the lead, a binder to hold the ingredients together, pigment which gives each type of colored pencil its unique color and water to help uniformly mix all the ingredients. First, the extenders, binders, pigments and water are placed in a large mixer which gently kneads them together into a uniform doughy substance. When the mixing is complete, the contents of the mixer are rolled into flat sheets. Finally, these sheets are machine-pressed into large, long solid cylinder shapes. These shapes are called cartridges.

Each cartridge, while still damp and pliable, is inserted into another machine called an extrusion press, where it is forced through a small tube. The tube has a diameter equal to that of a colored pencil lead. As the long rope of wet colored lead comes out, an automatic slicer cuts it into equal lengths approximately as long as a colored pencil. Since the leads are still quite moist, they must be dried in large ovens before they become hard enough to insert into the slats.

To assemble the pencils, half of the grooved slats are fed into a machine which carefully lays a colored pencil lead into each groove. Then a layer of glue is applied and a second grooved slat is placed on top of the slat holding the lead. Think of this as a pencil sandwich, with each slat acting like a piece of bread and the colored leads acting like the filling.

These pencil sandwiches are then bound very tightly together and placed into storage to give the glue time to dry. Once the glue is dry, they are fed into another milling machine which cuts them into individual colored pencils. Depending on the design of colored pencils, they are cut into either round or hexagonal shapes.

Next, the pencils are fed into a machine to be painted. Paint drips down onto an o-ring, which acts like a small paint brush to coat the pencils with the same color paint as the colored lead it contains. The pencils run down a conveyer belt to allow the paint to dry. The painted pencils are then sent to a machine to be automatically sharpened. Finally, brightly colored finished pencils are packed into boxes which are shipped to neighborhood stores.

Crayola Colored Pencils are used by people of all ages for everything from crafts to professional artwork and school projects. Crayola continues to offer assortments which meet our consumers artistic needs.