It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a frisbee! They are lightweight, easy to throw and catch, and just about any person (or four-legged companion) can play with one. Since they’re so popular, it’s worth knowing exactly how frisbees are made.

Let’s take a step-by-step look at how frisbees are manufactured before they take flight!

How is a Frisbee Made?

Plastic frisbees are made with a process called injection molding. This process allows hundreds of frisbees to be produced in a short amount of time. A frisbee is made in six steps that include:

  • Step 1: Plastic pellets are placed into a drum that combines pigment and different oils.
  • Step 2: The pellets are dried in a hopper and foreign material like metal is removed.
  • Step 3: The plastic is fed into a barrel where it begins to melt.
  • Step 4: Once liquified, the plastic is shot into the frisbee mold.
  • Step 5: The melted plastic inside the mold is cooled.
  • Step 6: The finished frisbee is removed from the mold and decorated using ink or engraving.
  1. Step 1

    Plastic Pellets Are Prepped

    Plastic pellets arrive at the frisbee manufacturer in 50 to 100 lb. bags. The pellets are placed into a large drum and mixed with pigment and a weight-enhancing additive. The additive helps make sure the frisbee will be just the right weight to fly. Oil is also added to help the pigment stick to the pellets. The drum vibrates to combine the materials together.

  2. Step 2

    Foreign Objects Removed

    The pellets are fed into a hopper that dries the pigments and oil. Foreign objects, like metal or iron, are also removed using a giant magnet. These foreign objects can come from the factories that ship the plastic pellets and have to be removed because they can cause deformities during the injection process.

  3. Step 3

    Plastic is Melted

    Once the material is dry, the plastic pellets are fed down into a barrel. The pellets are gradually melted and stirred by a large screw that slowly compresses the molten plastic.

  4. Step 4

    Liquid Injection

    Once the screw is filled with the right amount of liquid, it shoots the material through a valve and into the frisbee mold under high pressure.

  5. Step 5

    Cooling the Mold

    Cooling fluid is flushed through holes in the frisbee mold to speed the cooling process. During this time, more pellets from the hopper are fed into the drum to begin melting for the next injection.

  6. Step 6

    Remove the Finished Product

    Once the mold is cooled, mechanical arms remove the molded frisbee so it can be imprinted with ink or engraving of the manufacturer’s brand.

During the frisbee-creation process, there is little waste produced. If a frisbee is removed from the mold with excess material on the edges, it is trimmed off and sent to a machine that will grind it back down to be used again. Any frisbees with defected shape, weight, or misprinted decorations are also recycled to be re-used in a different mold.

Do you want to see the frisbee-making process in action? Check out this video!

What Type of Plastic Are Frisbees Made From?

Frisbees are made with a type of plastic called polyethylene. It is made from a colorless flammable gas called ethylene, which is then converted into a polymer when pressurized.

Polyethylene can have other additives as well like lubricant, colorant, and chemicals to help resist cracking. Because it is durable and low-cost, most frisbees are made with polyethylene and then molded and colored to the manufacturer’s specification!

How Does a Frisbee Work?

Frisbees don’t need motors or magical wings to fly. A frisbee is actually shaped like an airplane wing. The center is wide, and it gets thinner toward the edges, which allows air to travel faster above the frisbee to help lift it in flight.

Sound confusing? Let’s check out a frisbee in action.

You throw a frisbee by flicking your wrist, which begins the rapid spinning motion. As the frisbee flies, it has an angular motion which gives it stability in the air. You won’t get the same effect if you try to fling a dinner plate through the air because it doesn’t have the aerodynamic shape of a frisbee. You could also test this by tossing a frisbee upside down and seeing what happens!

pdga.com

How is a Disc Golf Frisbee Made?

Frisbees used for disc golf are made the same way other plastic frisbees are produced, through injection molding. However, there are characteristics that a disc golf frisbee must have. The Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) approves select frisbees for use in the sport.

The frisbee must be weight tested to see whether or not it qualifies for a disc golf match. A weight is placed on the edge of the disc and it is measured by the degree it bends. The flexibility rating must be no greater than 27 pounds. The disc must also not exceed 200 grams in weight. All approved discs must then have the words “PDGA Approved” engraved or stamped on the frisbee.

pdga.com

What Do the Numbers on a Disc Golf Frisbee Mean?

The numbers on a disc golf frisbee are actually flight ratings. A series of four numbers are used to represent speed, glide, turn, and fade. Each rating has its own numbering system, which is what you see printed on the disc. These terms describe how the frisbee moves during flight:

Speed
Speed determines how hard you must throw the disc. It is measured with numbers 1 through 13.

Glide
The glide is how long the disc can stay in the air and is measured on a scale of 1 to 7.

Turn
Turn shows how much a disc turns to the right when thrown and is measured from -5 to 1.

Fade
The fade is how far the disc turns to the left at the end of the flight. Numbers 0 to 5 are used for the rating.


Professional players use the numbers on a disc golf frisbee to decide which type they want to use before making their throw. Now that you know what the range of numbers mean for each rating, you can begin to master the sport!

Who Makes Frisbees?

The official frisbee is owned by Mattel Toy Manufacturers, but there are several other companies who make frisbees for sport and fun! The following companies make their own frisbees:

  • Nerf
  • Liberty Imports
  • Wham-O
  • Innova
  • Discraft

Some companies are known for specializing in frisbees for specific activities. Innova makes frisbees for disc golf, and Discraft specializes in Ultimate Frisbee discs. Nerf and Wham-O make all-around frisbees that are for kids or beginners! Depending on what you plan to do with your frisbee, you can get one made by the pros!

The Bottom Line

Through the injection molding process, frisbees are easily mass produced and then used for sports like disc golf or for some family fun! Frisbee makes the ultimate outdoor game since you don’t need a court, referee, or rules to have fun playing.

References

Wonderopolis. (2014). How Does a Frisbee Fly? Retrieved January 8, 2020, from
https://www.wonderopolis.org/wonder/how-does-a-frisbee-fly

Made How. (2019). Frisbee. Retrieved January 8, 2020, from
http://www.madehow.com/Volume-5/Frisbee.html

Professional Disc Golf Association. (June 10, 2010). GUIDELINES & PROCEDURES FOR MANUFACTURERS TO CERTIFY THAT

EQUIPMENT COMPLIES WITH PDGA TECHNICAL STANDARDS. Retrieved January 8, 2020, from
https://www.pdga.com/files/documents/PDGATechStandards_61510.pdf

Carter, Jordan. (2019). 10 Best Frisbees (Review) In 2020. Retrieved January 8, 2020, from
https://www.gearhungry.com/best-frisbee/

About the author

Gianna Petan

Meet Gianna - no stranger to all things promo products. Her background in research-based writing, linguistics, and advertising gives her an edge in blogging about the marketing industry.