Manufacturing 101: The Manufacturing Process

A detailed look at the manufacturing process in a manufacturing workflow

Hello again đź‘‹.

Welcome back to the Manufacturing 101 series where I am giving you an introduction to the way manufacturing companies operate by taking you step by step through the manufacturing workflow.

In the previous parts of the series, I introduced you to the manufacturing workflow and explained in detail how the receiving process works for manufacturing companies, like Paper Joiners Ltd, the fictional company that we are following in this series.

In this part of the series, we will dive into more detail about the manufacturing part of the manufacturing workflow.

Before we move on, I would like to take a moment to introduce myself to anyone who might be new to the blog.

My name is Ken Bourke and I have worked as an automation professional for almost a decade. During this time, I have worked on large global projects in different industries around the world.

In the last year, I have started producing content online to share my knowledge through free blog posts and free or very reasonably priced courses.

If you get some value out of this post then consider checking out my courses, joining the mailing list using the form at the bottom of this page, or, if you’re feeling very generous, buying me a coffee using the Buy Me a Coffee widget on this page.

With that bit of shameless self-promotion out of the way, let’s get back to looking at Paper Joiner Ltd’s manufacturing process.

The Manufacturing Area

The manufacturing area is where a manufacturing company like Paper Joiner’s Ltd uses industrial equipment and manufacturing processes to convert raw materials into useful components and finished products.

In Paper Joiner’s Ltd, the manufacturing area is divided into two departments with different specializations. Those departments are the molding department, which is responsible for producing plastic components, and the sheet metal department, which is responsible for producing metal components.

Let’s start by looking at the molding department.

Molding Department

The molding department manufactures many of the plastic components that go into staplers manufactured by Paper Joiners Ltd including the handle, pads, and a nylon hinge.

To manufacture these parts, workers feed raw rubber and plastic pellets into injection molding machines.

An injection molding machine melts the plastic pellets into a liquid and then forces the molten plastic into a steel mold, which is a negative of the shape of the component being manufactured. These steel molds were specifically designed for Paper Joiners Ltd.

The molten plastic cools and the solid plastic components are removed from the mold and dropped in a bin.

This cycle repeats constantly to produce the plastic components that are required for the stapler assembly.

The finished parts are transported to the assembly area to be used in stapler assemblies.

You can see an animation of the injection molding process in the video below from Tronicarts.

It's worth noting that the staff at Paper Joiners Ltd are experts at using molding machinery to produce plastic parts but they are not experts at building molding machinery.

Like many manufacturing companies, Paper Joiners Ltd buys its machinery from an Original Equipment Manufacturer, often abbreviated to OEM. An OEM is an expert at designing a specific type of machinery such as an injection molding machine.

End users, like Paper Joiners Ltd, buy machines from different OEMs and joins them together to automate their manufacturing workflow.

Now that we know how the plastic components are made, let’s turn our attention to the metal fabrication department at Paper Joiner’s Ltd to see how the metal components are made.

Sheet Metal Department

The Sheet Metal Department manufactures many of the metal components that are used in stapler assemblies like the top bracket, spring channel, and anvil.


Paper Joiners Ltd receives huge coils of sheet metal that are 24" wide. This is a standard width for sheet metal coils.

As you know, the metal parts in a stapler are small so Paper Joiners Ltd uses a machine called a slitter to cut the metal coils into a more manageable, practical size.

In a slitter, coils are mounted on a mandrel and the coil is unrolled. While the coil is being unrolled, blades cut the coil into strips that are only a few inches wide.

These narrow strips are fed into a machine called a rewinder which rolls the strips into narrow coils. These narrow coils can be used with other machinery in the Sheet Metal Department.

You can see an example of a huge slitting and rewinding line in the video below from Honjia Machine.


Once the raw metal in the Sheet Metal Department has been processed, the small coils can be into industrial machines to form the metal components used in the stapler assembly.

One of the most common pieces of equipment used to form metal components is a press. A press is usually the most cost-effective way to form metal parts.

In a press, a strip of metal is fed into the machine. The press head comes down and pushes the metal into a die to shape and cut the metal.

Even though it sounds like a simple process, a press can be used to make components with complex shapes when equipped with the right die.

You can see an example of a press in action in the video below from TSINFA.

Note that with both presses and molding machines, raw materials can be fed to the machines and components can be discharged automatically, semi-automatically, or manually. The level of automation used in the process will largely depend on the volumes being manufactured.

The finished components are then transported to the assembly area where they will be used in stapler assemblies.

Wrap Up

In this part of the series, we looked in more detail at how the manufacturing part of the manufacturing process works.

In the next part of the series, we will look at the assembly part of the manufacturing process and see how Paper Joiners Ltd combines components into an actual stapler.

If you haven’t already, make sure to sign up to the mailing list below to be notified when that part is ready.

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