How Are Acrylic Beads Made?

When manufacturing plastic or acrylic beads, a compound of polypropylene, high density polyethylene, or high impact polystyrene is used. This plastic compound arrives at the bead factory in naturally transparent pellets in 20 pound bags.

The first step of the manufacturing process is to color the pellets. These pellets go into a mixer along with other pigment colorant pellets made of a special power. This pigment only makes up about 2% of the actual weight of the compound. 

The mixture is then fed into a plastic injection machine that heats the pellet mixture to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This only takes a matter of seconds to melt the mixture. The machine then injects the melted plastic into pre-sized bead molds. A system of hoses cools the bead molds with cold water and instantly hardening the plastic beads. Holes are then drilled and when the mold opens, ejectors thrust the beads to a conveyor belt below. 

For most beads, the entire process from start to finish only takes about 10 seconds. Larger and more intricate beads have a longer cycle time.