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The making of Crayola's crayons (photos)

As part of Road Trip 2010, CNET's Daniel Terdiman stops by Crayola to witness how the company produces more than 3 billion crayons a year.

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Daniel Terdiman

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Largest crayon in the world

EASTON, Pa.--Do you think you've ever met anyone, in the United States at least, who hasn't played with Crayola crayons? The odds are low. Crayola makes 3 billion of the wonderful colored drawing implements a year. And it's a surprisingly simple process to make them.

On Road Trip 2010, CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman visited Crayola to see how these ubiquitous wax wonders are created.

In its store, Crayola displays this crayon--the biggest in the world, which was made to celebrate the company's 100th birthday. It weighs 1,500 pounds, is 15 feet long, and was created with crayons donated by children around the country.

This crayon could draw a single line 10 miles long, or color in an entire football field.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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Crayola building

Crayola's visitors' center in Easton was created in conjunction with the town, and has helped revitalize it.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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Wax from the faucet

Paraffin wax flows from a faucet into the "kettle." The wax comes out at 150 degrees Fahrenheit and will be poured onto the "hole table."

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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The kettle froths

The wax froths in the kettle before being poured onto the hole table.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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The hole table

This is the "hole table," which has 1,200 slots for crayons.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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The holes

A close-up of the holes.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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Pouring the wax

A Crayola employee pours the heated wax onto the hole table.

Crayola does not allow the public--or the press, in most cases--to see its actual manufacturing facility. But at its visitors' center, the company offers its 300,000 annual visitors a demonstration of the process. And though the demonstration is done at a slower speed, it is representative of what happens in the real factory.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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Bubbling

As the scalding wax spreads across the hole table, it bubbles up over the holes.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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Dried wax

It takes about 10 minutes for the wax to cool, aided by cooling liquid underneath the hole table. Here, the just-poured wax sits dried, and still a bit warm to the touch.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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Patterns

After one pour, the wax set like this, with a nice pattern of dimples over the holes.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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Scraping the hole

A roll automatically scrapes the dried wax off the surface of the hole table, pushing it into a bin at the end. The wax is not thrown away. Instead, it's melted again and used in a future pour. Crayola does a lot of recycling, including mixing all colors of defective crayons into its black crayons.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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Crayons in the holes

New crayons emerge from the holes in the hole table.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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Crayons

Twelve hundred new crayons have emerged, and now it's time to get them off the table.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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Lots of crayons

These are the newest red Crayola crayons.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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Defects

In each pour, there are going to be defects. Here, some of them are collected. The wax may not have filled a hole, or it may have settled improperly. The defects are recycled.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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The wrapping drum

This is the wrapping drum, which automatically applies a crayon's label.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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The drum

A close-up of the drum.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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Feeding the drum

Crayons in a hopper are fed one by one into the drum and rotated around until glue is applied and a label is rolled around twice; then the crayons are pushed out of the other side of the machine.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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Applying the labels

One by one, the labels are affixed to the crayons.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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Emerging crayons

The now-labeled crayons emerge from the wrapping drum.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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Different colors

Several colors of crayons in bins that feed onto a conveyor belt, at the end of which the crayons are boxed.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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Into the box

Though the crayons that are boxed at the visitors' center don't go into a 64-color box, visitors can still see how they're packaged.

Click here to read a related story on Crayola crayons and watch videos of their production. Click here to check out the entire Road Trip 2010 package.

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