How paintballs are made

Essay by guitarist.4.lifeJunior High, 8th gradeA-, June 2006

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Paintballs are made entirely of non-toxic, food grade ingredients. To make the hallow shell; water is poured into a giant, heated mixing bowl. A sweetener, a preservative and a secret combination of food ingredients are then added. Finally, the key ingredient that gives the shell its shape - gelatin - is introduced.

All the ingredients are mixed together for around half an hour before the gel is transferred from the mixer into a heated vat called the "gel tote". Once the filtered gel is securely in the tote it is lowered into a giant blender where food dye is added and blended for about 20 minutes.

Elsewhere in the factory, the same method is used to dye what's called "the fill" - that's the "paint" that goes inside the shell of the paintball. It's made of polyethylene glycol, the same inert liquid used for cough syrup, before being thickened with the same wax found in crayola crayons.

The gel and the fill are brought together in what's known as "the feed room". Here the vats of gel and fill feed a soft-gel encapsulation machine one floor below. This machine is the same kind used by drug companies to make soft gel-cap medicines like cod liver oil.

First, the machine spreads the gel on to a cooled drum. This creates a continuous, thin sheet of gel called "gel ribbon". The cooling process cures the gelatin to the point where it can be molded into the hollow shell of the ball. The machine presses the gel ribbon into a cast with half-circular pockets, each forming one half of a ball shell.

The machine does the next three steps in one shot: it aligns 2 half-shells together.

These newly minted paintballs are still quite soft and if they're not carefully dried, they'll lose...