What the machines do

Making planes, cars, sweets, jeans and plastic bottles

A varied collection of manufacturing industry video clips from the Alliance for Innovative Manufacturing at Stanford University. Clips include making aeroplanes, motorbikes, cars, sweets, chocolate, plastic bottles, textiles, crayons, golf clubs, steel and glass.


A wide range of manufacturing processes can also be seen in action, including casting, moulding, forging, hydroforming, stamping, cutting, milling, turning, welding, assembly and rapid prototyping. There is an appealing video on choice of materials called ‘Engineering: Making it Work’


Note the three tags on the left, each of which gives access to a different list of video clips.


The interface takes a little getting used to and might seem inflexible at first. But waiting until the clip has fully loaded - bottom right - then hitting the pause button in the centre, makes fast forward and rewind options available.

Where do pencils come from?

Five clips that blend film and animation to answer the question in a brief and colourful way.


“We know they’re made of wood, so could they grow on trees? I’m going back to school to find some answers.”

How computer chips are made

Interactive presentation from Intel: “Although several microprocessors are built on a single wafer, our demonstration will build only a small piece of a microprocessor. Let's take a closer look...”

Lego bricks from little balls

Animation of the whole manufacturing process, from coloured plastic granules sucked up out of large container trucks into three-storey high metal silos, all the way to the final conveyor belt - “where kits can have hundreds of different pieces, so packaging has to be fast and accurate.”

Injection moulding and vacuum forming

Thermoplastic materials are an essential element in modern manufacturing. Watch machines make plastic shapes.

How to make a silicon wafer

Short colourful animations that start with melted “polysilicon, together with minute amounts of electrically active elements such as arsenic, boron, phosphorous or antimony” and end with “a thin, single-crystal layer grown on the polished surface of the basic wafer substrate”. Looks much nicer than it sounds. From MEMC Electronics Materials, Inc.

Die casting

Die casting is an efficient, economical process that produces more shapes and components than any other manufacturing technique. It provides complex shapes within close tolerances. Little or no machining is needed and thousands of identical castings can be produced.


“Die castings are among the highest volume, mass-produced items manufactured by the metalworking industry, and they can be found in thousands of consumer, commercial and industrial products. Die cast parts are important components of products ranging from automobiles to toys. Parts can be as simple as a sink faucet or as complex as a connector housing.” More


Hot chamber die casting is used for lower melting-point metals, such as zinc, zinc-aluminium and magnesium. “The process utilises a crucible fitted with a cylinder to force molten metal through a tube called a goose-neck into the die cast tool.” Squeeze casting is a variant.

Blast furnace

Simple, clear and colourful animation of how iron has been made for well over a hundred years. Find out more from Corus, one Europe’s largest steel producers.

And here’s one just for fun

The famous Honda advert. When you’ve a little more time, read how it was made and how it almost drove its designers crazy.

Other manufacturing machines






The machines