More Interesting Than You Think: How A Cycling Water Bottle Is Made

(logo swooshes) – I’m lucky enough to be here in Croatia, because the kind folks at
Elite have invited me out to check out their water bottle factory. And they know a thing
or two about bottles, because they’ve been
making them since 1983. And, well, most of us actually, we probably take water bottles
for granted, let’s face it. But today, I’m going to
find out just exactly how this is turned into this. (mellow electronic music) What is a bottle made from then? Well Elite, they actually
make water bottles out of two different
types of plastic here. So a standard bottle, like the CORSA, that’s made from some of this. Low-density polyethylene. Now this bag itself weighs about 25 kilos, and it can make, get this,
about 400 of these bottles, which is mind-blowing to think about it. Talk about good use of volume. What about those lightweight
FLY bottles then? Well Elite actually
developed their very own special compound, which took
about a year’s worth of time to actually refine, in order to be used inside of a water bottle. More on those lightweight
FLY bottles later though, but back to these ones. Well, first up, these pellets,
they’re loaded into that, and it’s pumped around into the factory, as you can hear right now. Let’s go and check out those machines to see just how it’s done. (smooth hip hop music) So the pellets, they’ve been pumped in to the back of the machine,
and they’ve been heated up to 175 degrees centigrade,
and pushed forward, before it starts to extrude, like so. As you can see there, that’s really hot. But also really pliable, too. So then this part of
the mold moves across, and it clamps it inside, and
a load of air comes in there, essentially blowing it into shape, and it forms the whole bottle, including the thread
at the neck there too. At this point, the mold also determines the various thicknesses of the bottle. So the side of it, as well as the base, as well as the top, too. ‘Cause obviously, you want
to have a nice, solid base, so it doesn’t collapse
under its own weight, and a nice, strong neck, so
that when you screw the lid on, it’s going to stay in place. The screen here actually shows
you the different thicknesses of all those various parts. Now it doesn’t stop there, though. Once that’s actually been
blow-molded into shape, it moves along, and then
the tooling phase happens. So essentially, it’s making
sure that there’s no rough edges or anything like that
on the top or bottom, and also that the threads
are nice and precise. Then, it moves on to a pressure test. So that actually tries to
put some air into the bottle, to check for any pinholes
or anything like that. If there are, the bottle’s
rejected and recycled, as are any of the off-cuts
that you’re going to see too, from the top and bottom of the bottles, when they’re actually being formed. They then simply follow
through on this conveyor belt, they get ground up into little bits, and remade into another bottle. There’s literally no
waste of this whatsoever. And this machine here can produce about 8,000 bottles a day, because it can come out of both sides, and whilst one’s having a process done, the other one can slowly begin its life. Whilst we come all the
way down at the end here, we’ve got a dual blow mold system, which means that essentially, you can fuse or blend two
different materials together, like this bottle actually in my hand, which has got a clear stripe there, meaning you can have a colored bottle along with that, so you can, well, see how much liquid you’ve
got left out on your ride. Speaking of colors, if you’re wondering how they get turned into these
bright little beauties here, well it’s a pretty
simple affair, actually. Because remember those
white polyethylene pellets that get melted down into a bottle? Well, you just need
1.5% of a little pigment or a little pellet
there, which is colored, and that’s enough to give you one of those brightly colored bottles. Right then, let’s move
on to the FLY bottle. Named so because of its low weight, and a bottle which I
was first introduced to a couple of years ago at EUROBIKE. And believe me, I put it on the scales, and it did in fact blow my mind. Because this is just 54 grams, compared to the CORSA bottle we’ve been looking at previously, that’s 87 grams. So the cost per gram saving is
probably one of the best ways you can actually lose
some weight on your bike. But how do they do it? Well firstly, it’s a different
manufacturing process. And it did take about three
years of the total project. Of course, I’ve already mentioned, about developing the secret
formula inside of it. They did run into a few
challenges along the way. The first one, obviously,
developing the right compound, as well as making sure it was odorless, and importantly, nice and
soft to the grip, too. Now that secret formula
compound is actually stored up there, and dried out for
a minimum of four hours, otherwise it simply will not work. When it’s ready to be processed, it comes down, travels along
here at 220 degrees centigrade, before then it’s injected into the mold, and then the following
magic starts to happen. The plastic used in these bottles can be made incredibly thin where the extra strength is
not necessarily required, such as throughout the soft
grip, like on the sides, and then beefed up where it is needed, so the neck and the base, just
like the other water bottles. It’s also pressure tested
and left to cool down. These FLY bottles actually
take a little bit longer. They take about 20 minutes. Oh, that’s that special
mix of the FLY bottles. Better not take any. Right, okay, we’ve made our bottles, but how are we going to stop the liquid from flying out the top of it then? Well firstly, the CORSA bottle lids, they’re still actually made in Italy. But soon, they’re going to
be moving here to Croatia, because Elite have just made
a factory just next door. But right now, the FLY
bottle lids are made here. And actually, the lid
is one of the reasons why the bottle is so light, because it’s really minimalistic. Now this machine has a
double injection mold, and actually combines
two materials within it. So the bottom row of molds there, that actually accepts the
molten plastic if you like, and then forms the basis of the lid. When that’s done, it rotates around, and then this top, almost
rubber-like substance is pressed into place, and it’s simply the heat of the two make it join together. Now there’s two reasons for this. The aesthetics, and also, this has got a slightly grippy feel to it. So when it gets a little bit wet, it becomes just a little
bit sticky there, too. Now the rubber nozzle,
or valve if you like, that’s actually pushed
into place using a machine, but it does require some
human assistance here. So a human actually has
to line up the bottle top underneath the machine
before pressing a button and it gets pushed into place. Now this process, again,
currently isn’t here, but in a month’s time it will be, so it’s going to be an almost
one-stop-does-all type facility. Artwork. This is the part I had literally
no idea how it was done. At first, I thought, “Oh, maybe the bottle “is laid out flat, and then they print it, “and then they fold it into
position, I don’t know.” I didn’t want to ruin the surprise, I’m here now, I’m going to find out how they get extremely
cool-looking bottles. So this machine, extremely
advanced, I’ve been told, it can print up to six different
layers onto a plain bottle. Let’s have a look at the
process from start until finish. Now first up, the bottles,
well they’re chucked into this big container here, and then they go up this
almost escalator-type machine. They drop down into a big sorting wheel, then they go on to a conveyor belt. At that point, if a bottle is not facing in the right direction, a laser detects it, picks
it up by a little sucker, turns it around, drops
it back on the conveyor, and it heads towards the painting machine. The bottles are first
cleaned with a brush system, to make sure there’s no dust. And they then continue to a
flame, for a split second. This, again, makes sure the surface is best for paint adhesion. The paint of the graphic
design is then applied, and is then put through
a UV light quickly, to dry it before moving
on to the next color. The bottle eventually reaches a camera that quickly scans the bottle,
to make sure that, again, it matches up perfectly
with a design file, and is precise to 0.2 of a millimeter. If it doesn’t match, it’s
rejected, but don’t worry. The rejected bottles are collected and will be broken down and recycled to be remade into a future bottle. There is no waste whatsoever. Sticking with recycling,
you’ll be pleased to know that the bottles are made
of a corn-based plastic, as opposed to an oil-based product. Meaning that the bottles
are 100% biodegradable. How cool is that? But I’m not finished
with artwork just yet. Oh no, this is the latest bit of the kit. It’s about two weeks old, and this can loosely be described I guess as a ginormous ink jet printer. It’s full of cables and
wires inside of there. But the great advantage of this is that very soon, consumers like you and I will easily be able to, from
the comfort of our own home, upload our very own image
or slogan, whatever, and it get printed onto a water bottle. Now it uses four different colors, so cyan, magenta, yellow,
and key, or black. And each layer is printed in turn before it simply heads on down
over on the conveyor belt. It can print up to 5,000 of those an hour. That is simply incredible. I love this machine. It’s like the Rolls-Royce of printing. Right, there we are. How water bottles are made. I had literally no idea, now I do, it’s one I’ve ticked off of my list. Let me know, though, what you would like to see being made too. Also, if you were going to have a picture printed onto a water bottle,
what would it be and why? Let me know down there
in the comment section. Don’t forget to like and share
this video with your friends, give it a big thumbs up. Tell everybody about it. Don’t forget, check out the GCN shop at, for a whole heap of goodies, and now, to see Si, when he visited the Elite Turbo Trainer
factory, click just down here. And well, me, I’m not go
thirsty with all these, am I? Oh, no.

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