Paintballing is a cross between war games, tag, and hide and seek. The aim is to steal the other team’s flag while shooting the opponents with an Agam loaded with exploding paint capsules. After all, boys will be boys.
Paintballs are made entirely of non-toxic ingredients. To make the hollow shell, water is heated in a giant mixing bowl. Sweeteners and a secret combination of food ingredients are added. The exact recipe is apparently never divulged. Then, gelatine will be added – the key ingredient that give the ball its shape.
The mix is melted in 30 minutes and will then later be lined up for “the drop.” In the drop, the gel is transferred from the giant mixer to a very hot vat which they call “gel tote”. Any solid and un-melted globules will be filtered out.
Once the mixture is ready, a giant blender is lowered to make sure that the mixture is evenly mixed and to keep it from drying. After that, food dye is poured in and blended for about 20 minutes. Workers will manually stir the sides of the mixture to ensure that the dye is spread evenly.
Elsewhere in the factory, they use the same method to dye what’s called “the fill” – the paint that goes inside the shell of the paintball. It’s made of polyethylene glycol, the inert liquid in cough syrups, which is thickened with crayon wax.
In the “feed room”, the vats of gel feed the capsulation machine. First, the machine will spread out the colored gel on a cooled drone. This process manufactures continuous thin sheets of thin gel which is the “gel ribbon”. This cooling process cures the gelatine so that it can be molded into these small hollow shells of the paintball.
The machine then carefully presses the gel ribbon to produce half circle pockets which forms half of the ball shells. The paintball-making machine then makes the next 3 steps in one go – It carefully aligns the two halves of the paintball shells together to create a hollow paintball, and while at that it injects the colored fill, and seals them together producing a finished product.
The newly minted balls are still very soft though. If not dried, they will lose their circular shape, thus they are placed on a conveyor then tumbled dry. From here, they’ll go into a bakery style rack where they will dry out completely.
Manufacturing this ammunition is a messy business but well worth the effort to the millions who love paintballing especially those stag parties. Invented just 15 years ago, many companies have now been booking paintball outings for their employees to help build teamwork.