Over the years tinsel has perhaps fallen a little out of fashion, but there are still 12.5 million metres of tinsel produced every year in the UK. The vast majority of the UK’s tinsel is produced in Wales. Primarily from one factory; Festive, who in their 25 years of manufacturing have produced enough tinsel to wrap around the world more than 70 times(!). They employ 65 staff in their local area. They start making tinsel in January and from May to November tinsel is made 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to meet the growing demand.

As with many things we’ve been pondering; how is tinsel actually made? Luckily we found some videos online and discovered that there is in fact a tinsel making machine! 

The Tinsel Garland Machine, looks a little like a candy floss maker and the creation process is kind of similar;

The first step is choosing which brightly coloured PVC they are going to feed into the machine. The PVC then passes through a series of cutters, where the edges are cut leaving the middle in tact. The cut PVC then gets put through a spinning machine alongside a galvanised wire thread and the centrifugal force twists them together. Once everything is spun together it’s cut down to its required length, usually 2-3m long. 

You can see this process in this video. 

Plastic tinsel typically gets its shiny finish from metallization, which is performed by heating and evaporating a metal such as aluminum under a vacuum and condensing it onto the plastic to leave a thin coating.

There is more than one type of tinsel, at least 5 different types. From thin cut, looped, 6 ply, die-cut (so you can have interesting shapes at the end) and you can even include some lighting in there. 

If you’re looking for some eco-friendly alternatives to the traditional tinsel, you could knit your own garlands, or make them from popcorn


Mental Floss

BBC News



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