Science and technology

Tuesday, 14 March, 2017 - 15:50

How things are made

by EllenBlogger

Breweries, cheese-making factories, paper mills, distilleries … we are inquisitive and we pay lots of money to visit these factories and find out how things are made.

There was a temporary exhibition on in the south of Spain which exhibited everyday items such as the paperclip, an umbrella, Lego bricks, resealable plastic bags, pencils and tin cans used for storing food or drink. The exhibition told you when these items were first created, discussed their uses and showed how they were made in short films. It also told you who invented them and why.

Have you ever wondered how things are made? Do you know how newspapers are printed or how marbles are created? How do factories create windscreens for cars? How is the detail added? How are the machines so precise and how is the glass so clear?

There’s a programme on television in England at the moment called How things are made. Each programme is between 20 and 30 minutes in length, and they are fascinating as they give you a perfect insight into how everyday objects are created.  

Did you know that a Chinese man, Cai Lun, invented paper in AD 50? It was called ‘papyrus’ by the Romans and bore very little resemblance to the ‘paper-thin’ paper we have nowadays – and we are using recycled paper now too! 

It’s really interesting to see how things are produced. We often take everything for granted and rarely sit down and wonder at the amount of effort that goes into designing everyday items. Some things, such as suits, still require human input into making them, although not for every stage, and marbles require a large amount of human involvement. Other objects such as snooker cues are entirely dependent on the precision of machines designing, moulding and creating each individual element.

It’s amazing how quick machines make the manufacturing process, but is it good for everything to be manufactured by machines? Humans are costly, as they have to be paid, but films such as I Robot show the dangers of becoming too dependent on machines and robots. Plus, the skills which people used to have to make various objects are being lost, because they are skill sets which are outdated and now no longer required.

Language level

What objects do you use every day? Are they handmade or mass-produced? Do you think it is good for everything to be manufactured by machines?

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