Paintballs are made entirely of non-toxic, food-grade ingredients.
To make the hollow shell, they first pour water into a giant, heated mixing bowl. They add a sweetener, a preservative and a secret combination of food ingredients the company won’t divulge. No preservatives added.
Then, finally, the key ingredient that gives the shell its shape — gelatin. The same kind as used in gummy bears. They melt and mix everything for about a half an hour. Then line it up for what they call “The Drop” – transferring the gel from the mixer into a heated vat called the “gel tote”.
They filter out any globs that didn’t melt. Once the gel is securely in the tote, they lower in a giant blender. They pour in food dye and blend for about 20 minutes.
Elsewhere in the factory, they use the same method 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, thickened with wax – the same wax as Crayola Crayons.
The gel and the fill meet their maker in what’s known as “the feed room”. Here, the vats of gel and fill feed a softgel encapsulation machine one floor below. This machine is the same kind used by drug companies to make soft gel-cap medicines.
Also used to make Bath Beads, and all oil soluble nutritional supplements: Vitamin A and E, garlic oil, fish oil, lecithin, etc. First, the machine spreads out the gel onto a cooled drum. This creates a continuous, thin sheet of gel called a “gel ribbon”. This cooling cures the gelatin to the point where it can now be molded into the hollow shell of the ball.
The machine presses the gel ribbon into a die with half-circle pockets, each forming one-half of a ball shell.
The machine does the next three steps in one shot. It aligns two half-shells together to form a hollow ball.. injects the fill… then seals the two half-shells together.
These newly minted paintballs are still quite soft. If they’re not carefully dried, they’ll lose their shape. So they fall down onto a conveyer, then roll into a tumble-dryer to be pre-dried while airborne. From here they’ll go onto a bakery-style rack until they dry out to the carefully controlled amount. The exact drying protocol is a carefully guarded trade secret.
To make dual-coloured paintballs, they use the exact same process, but feed two colours of gel ribbon into the capsulation machine.
One colour for each half of the shell.
The finished paintballs go through an precision automatic counting machine.
Manufacturing this messy ammunition is a “paint-staking” process. but well worth the effort to the millions who love the game of Paintball. Invented just 20 years ago, it’s caught on in more than 40 countries worldwide. That is how they make paintballs.