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Modern Alchemy: How Are Plastic Bottles Made?

You know where you can get plastic bottles – with a delicious beverage inside of it.

But how do they start before they’re in the cooler?

Few people know how are plastic bottles made – but we did the research for you. It involves plastic, hot air, and some creative processes to get you from plastic pellets to something you can wrap your lips around on a hot day.

Want to know how it’s made? Read below.

How Are Plastic Bottles Made: The Starting Materials

If you set out to make a plastic bottle, you’re going to need some serious mechanical power – but you’ll also need plastic. Most plastic bottles are made out of PET plastic, which is a type of polymer (a man-made material).

These polymers come in forms of little pellets, kind of like wax beads, or smaller coffee beans. It takes a lot of those raw plastic materials to make one bottle, which is why you should invest in larger duralite ones instead.

After they’ve measured the pellets, they need to melt them. They go into a large heating device, which we can’t imagine smells very good (think burning plastic is bad? Try Melting it!)

Once they have a sort of plastic soup, they move on to the shaping process.

The Shaping Process

Now the people at the factory have some sort of plastic soup. What do they do with it? They push buttons on a machine that takes that soup and injects it into molds.

These molds aren’t the finished product, in fact, you probably wouldn’t recognize them if you saw them in this shape, out of context.

They look like those pre-made infant formula bottles you can buy at a gas station, or some describe them as very thick test tubes.

This is the middle state. The plastic starts to harden a little bit on the ride over to the blower, but not so much that it’s not pliable.

The blower is where real shaping happens. The test tube/baby bottle shape is put on what’s essentially a powerful straw.

The powerful straw blows the test tube full of air and it molds to the bottle shape that surrounds it. The air is the only way to get that hollow shape, where manufacturers put their product.

After they’re in the right shape, details are added, like any texturing and the bottles cool.

The Final Step

Then the bottles get boxed and sent out in bulk – for wholesale to factories like Coca Cola or Evian.

The manufacturers are the ones that will fill, cap, and then label the bottles, with machines of their own.

Some companies have specifically shaped bottles – think about the difference between Smartwater’s bottle and something like Gatorade. Those companies use specific molds or different factories to get their signature shape.

Now that you know how are plastic bottles made, what are you going to do with this information? Hopefully, you’ll recycle the next one you get your hands on, to help start this whole magical process again.

Did the idea of playing with molten plastic excite you? Here are 10 other dangerous jobs.

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