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Everything begins with a Pencil . . . . (PART II)
By Harshad Raveshia
Worldwide pencil Industry at a Glance
Pencils are believed to be the basic tool for the
development of entire Engineering & Science all over the world!! Believe it
or not, pencils have played an important role in uplifting every nation!!
Somewhere pencil was used as a revolutionary achievement and somewhere it was
considered as basic source to awaken the nationality!!
Europe was ruling as the global source of pencils in
18th & 19th Century. Those other upcoming countries
who depended on Europe were America, Mexico, India, Brazil, Argentina and some
small Asian Countries. First of all, pencil established its own strong hold and
influence in British Colonies!!
The way France faced the conflict with England &
Germany in 16th Century, America faced in 17th & 18th
Century!! This promoted Americans a new opportunity to explore the
Manufacturing Industry of pencils!! During the American Revolution, European pencils
were thrown or burnt and this forced New American Government to promote pencil
Industry in BIG way!
A cabinet maker named William Munroe in concord,
Massachusetts, started the first pencil factory in America. The process of pencil
making adopted by William Munroe was very old and full of pain and hardship.
Meantime in nearby town a Saw Mill owner Mr. Ebenezer Wood started an automatic
& sophisticate (of old days) pencil Plant in Acton. This was far advance
plant, imported from Germany and produced good amount of Round & Hexagonal pencils. But he never patented his technology &
product and soon was copied all over the America for making similar pencil
Plants. One of them was Eberhard Faber whose name is still ruling the pencil
Market all over the World. A Mining Company owner Mr. Joseph Dixon promoted
Dixon Ticonderoga pencil & Art Supplies Company in 1870 and till this date
this company is in largest production in America. (In 2009, FILA of Italy have
taken over this company and my company is now directly associated with FILA).
In early 1800, the wood mainly used for making pencils
was Red Cedar. This was replaced by Incense Cedar in 1900 and today this wood
is regarded as the BEST wood for making pencil!!
Slowly the pencil manufacturing in USA was becoming
expensive due to requirement of huge labor force, few Companies like Dixon
& Faber adopted new technology, high efficiency machines with faster
productivity. Many closed down their operation or started marketing pencils that
were imported from other countries. Similar situation was there in Europe, all
major companies moved to other countries where labor was cheap and natural
resource like wood & graphite were available.
Now all the giants of pencil industry have their own
plants at original location to develop new machines and technology and have
major manufacturing plants in other developing countries. The growing demand of
pencils, huge work force of highest world population China entered in pencil
industry in 1950 in BIG way. In early days China was producing pencils for own
use and today China feed pencils to the entire Global market as biggest pencil
producer!! Some European Countries came to Asia with a vision of using Asian
wood for making pencils, Malaysia & Indonesia were their base plants. In 30
years of time those companies deserted entire forest lands of these 2 countries
and closed their plants!!
Today, Malaysia import pencils from China, Indonesia
have small pencil unit, Thailand, Taiwan, Korea and Japan have small units
which can’t cater their own need!!
Modern Pencil Making
pencil length Wood Block
Raw Slat cut from Block
Treated & Seasoned Slat
Grooved Slat with Lead & Adhesive (6)
Lead between 2 Grooved Slats (Sandwich)
Half pencil Shaped sandwich
pencil with Body Color
Ready pencil with Eraser Tip.
Pencil Industry in India
The pencil Industry in India is not much old, it
dates back to 1946 only. The very first pencil Unit was set at Lahore using
Deodar wood from Kashmir. In India, manufacturing of pencil is not like
American or European Countries. A major player has to be equipped with own
capacity of manufacturing all allied components of pencil!! One has to be ready
with own Wooden pencil Slat Manufacturing Facility, it’s Treatment and
Seasoning Facility, All kinds of pencil Lead (Black lead, Drawing Degree Lead
and all kinds of Color, Cosmetic and Glass Marking Lead), All kinds of pencil
Lacquer & Resins Manufacturing Facility. Beside this equipped with High
speed pencil Manufacturing Wood working Machines and Coloring Machines.
In other countries, a pencil Manufacturer have only
Wood working and Coloring Machines installed and rest all components comes
ready for them from other suppliers!! As on today, only bigger player can
survive and most of all small manufacturers have closed their operation!!
How is a pencil made?
The Major Stages can be described as under:
pencil Slat Manufacturing
pencil Slat Treatment & Seasoning
All kinds of Graphite Lead Manufacturing
All kinds of Color Lead Manufacturing
pencil Body Lacquer (Paint) Manufacturing
Wood Working Department
& Export Department.
Suitable species of ‘SOFT’ wood is sawn to size of
3” thick & 6” wide ‘Slipper’, dried to perfect Moisture Content of 10%
Those 3” Thick Slippers are cut in to uniform length
of 187 MM called pencil Blocks. Such Blocks are passed through ‘Automatic’ Slat
Making Machines where it is sliced in to 5.00 MM Thickness, 75.00 MM Width
& 185 MM Length. (7,00,00,000 Slats every day)
Pencil Slats Treatment & Seasoning
Those Slats are processed in Pressure Vessel with
Softening Solution, Food Grade Color Die & Non-Toxic Preservative by 8
Stage Process which last up to 6 to 10 hours depending upon type of wood. Those
Treated Slats contains nearly 150% Extra water so it has to be dried.
Such Wet Slats are ‘Stacked’ with uniform Air Gap on
Seasoning Pallet and such Pallets are loaded in Seasoning Chambers for “Soft
Drying” Process which takes nearly 6 to 10 days depending upon the Climatic
Condition. Treated Dried Slats are transferred to Sizing Department where they
are polished to uniform thickness, width & Length.
All Kinds of Graphite Lead manufacturing
Superior Quality Fine Mash size Graphite is mixed
with Superior Clay, Resin & Water and Solid Mass of material are prepared.
(More Graphite & Less Clay makes pencil Lead Darker & Less Graphite
& More Clay makes it lighter)
This ‘mass’ of mixture is passed through T. R. Mill
where it is ground to finest particle size removing extra water. This mass is
passed on ‘Hammer Mill’ where on 3-4 pass, a Hard and Solid Mass of Solid Bar
of mixture is made.
This Solid Mass is taken to Hydraulic Press, where
with 10 ton Pressure Lead of desired diameter is extruded. Those extruded Lead
contain nearly 50% extra water content so are packed in to ‘perforated’ canister
container and passed through ‘Rotary Oven’.
After 6 hours, Container comes out and lead inside
it is transferred to Crucibles. Those Crucibles are passed through Furnace
having 850` C and backed for 30 minutes. Backed lead from furnace is allowed to
cool and then packed in Container for transferring to other Department.
All Kinds of Color Lead manufacturing
Similar to Graphite Black lead, Graphite is replaced
by various Pigments of desired Colors.
Rest of process remains same as Black lead only Backing
Process in Furnace is not done.
After drying from ‘Rotary Oven’ Color Lead is passed
through ‘Hot Wax’ Bath for smooth gliding and Coloring property.
Pencil Body Lacquer (Paint) Manufacturing
Pencils in India, comes with beautiful Colors and
exterior finish. Pencil Paint known as Lacquer is manufactured using various
solvents, resins, pigments & N. C. Cotton. Every day we consume nearly
10000 KG of Lacquer.
Wood Working Department
Wood Working is a sort of assembling wood & pencil
Pencil Slats are loaded on Groover Machine where
every slat is formed with 9 grooves of desired pencil Lead diameter.
Grooved Slat move to Gluing & Lead Laying
Machine where ‘adhesive’ is applied on every slat and on one Grooved slat, pencil
Lead are inserted while other slat covers the lead to make sandwich! (Lead
between 2 Slats)
This Sandwich moves to ‘Rotary Drying Press’ where
the adhesive dry perfectly in nearly 24 hours’ time.
Those sandwiches comes to pencil forming machine
where both sides are cleaned and high speed cutters give shape of 9 pencils.
This combine process needs great accuracy and speed.
In 12 hour time this entire process cycle produce 200000 pencils. (We have such
Depending upon the quality of pencil every pencil is
passed through automatic Coloring machine. This way each and every pencils are
passed nearly 8 to 10 time to achieve desired finish and design. A pencil is
applied 3 coats of Primer Lacquer + 4 coats of Color Lacquer + Finishing
While Coloring, the end of pencil also get covered
with Color, such Color is removed on End Cutting Machine. Pencils arrived from Coloring
Department are embossed or printed with its name, grade. On next station pencils
are either tipped with Eraser & Ferrule or Tipped to cover the other end. (We
manufacture 2 million pencils with End Tipping & 0.5 million with Eraser
Tips). Some of pencils (mainly Color pencil) are supplied with Sharpened
Points, such pencils are sharpened on Sharpening Machines. (We sharpen every
day 0.5 million pencils)
Each and every pencil Pass through Screening Machine
and a pencil with smallest defect is removed.
In today’s world, buyer emphasize on Good quality
Lead, Easily Sharpenable wood, Good BOND of Lead & Wood, Beautiful
appearance and excellent Packing! Pencils are packed in Inner Carton as per
their quality. And branding in 10 or 12 count. Such 10 or 12 Cartons are packed
in outer Carton or Shrink Wrap and such units are packed in Master Case with
all details of Product, unit packing
All packed cases are moved to dispatch department
where they are labeled as per its destination and shipped to transport.
Marketing & Export Department
Marketing Department has their Sales Representatives
all over India depending upon the size of state. Every state have sales depot
where sufficient quantity of pencils are stored. Depot > Super Stockiest
> Stockiest > Retailer. This chain remains active to keep the market
flowing with pencils.
Export Department look after ‘over seas’ business
and handle all shipments time to time. (Our 50% pencils are sold in Oversea
Market and 50% in Domestic Market)
Both of the departments keeps follow up of inbound
payments and keeps on transferring time to time.
I am sure, all of you will remember one important
thing; a small piece of pencil is as good as a small ‘sapling’ of Tree which
you all plant as ‘Tree Plantation Project’ and after clicking some photographs
and reporting you forget that ‘sapling’!! Please remember every ‘sapling’ you
plant, let it grow into a BIG Tree; otherwise I may remain only in Museum by
the end of this century!! And, I want to remain your confidential friend
So think, imagine, put it in words, sentence, use me
more and keep secrets of your life safe!!
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