Did You Know?

Fluorescent ink is also used to make construction equipment, cones, and safety vests.

  1. Step 1
    Step 1 youtube.com

    Siphon the Plastic

    The first step involves siphoning plastic pellets into a large tube. Half of the pellets are white and the other half are dyed in the intended color of the highlighter.

  2. Step 2
    Step 2 youtube.com

    Melt the Plastic

    The tube that holds the plastic pellets is heated at about 240°F, which causes them to melt into a liquid form. As it all melts together, the colorful pellets will overpower the white ones, ultimately creating the ink color.

  3. Step 3
    Step 3 youtube.com

    Push Into Molds

    A mechanical steel screw pushes the liquid plastic into premade pen molds. The pressure at this point is equal to the weight of 350 elephants!

  4. Step 4
    Step 4 youtube.com

    Cool Down the Highlighters

    The highlighter barrels are cooled down by water and stored in a container. Without this step, the highlighters would be too hot to touch and wouldn’t be able to go on to the next stages of manufacturing.

  5. Step 5
    Step 5 youtube.com

    Push in the Polyester

    Clear pen barrels are pushed on a conveyor belt, while chalky pieces of polyester drop down on a separate conveyor belt. A robotic arm then pushes the pieces of polyester into the clear pen barrels.

  6. Step 6
    Step 6 youtube.com

    Drop in the Dye

    A chemist uses an eyedropper to drop a concentrated amount of dye (usually between 10 and 20 drops) into a beaker of water. This water contains a substance known as a humectant, which allows the ink to retain its moisture. It’s for this reason that highlighters don’t run out of ink very quickly!

  7. Step 7
    Step 7 youtube.com

    Measure the Ink’s Thickness

    A metal probe is dipped into the ink. It’s connected to a gauge that measures the thickness of the ink. If the probe turns too fast, it means the ink is too thin. If it’s too slow, the ink is too thick. It has to be moving at just the right speed in order for the ink to be used in the highlighter.

  8. Step 8
    Step 8 youtube.com

    Mix the Ink with the Polyester

    A robotically operated needle is used to inject the ink into the chalky polyester pieces from Step Five.

  9. Step 9
    Step 9 youtube.com

    Add the Nib

    The tip, or nib, of the highlighter is added to the top of the clear pen barrel. This is where the ink flows out as you’re using the highlighter.

  10. Step 10
    Step 10 youtube.com

    Screw on the Cap

    The highlighter caps are moved down a conveyor and added to the top of the nib.

  11. Step 11
    Step 11 youtube.com

    Print a Design

    Screen or pad printing is used to add a logo or text to the highlighter’s barrel. This is usually a brand name like Sharpie or BIC, but it can also be a unique design.

  12. Step 12
    Step 12

    Pack the Highlighters

    The highlighters are now good to go. They are packed into boxes and shipped in bulk to stores or online retailers. Demand is usually very high during back-to-school season!

Did You Know?

Highlighters are water-based instead of alcohol-based in order to prevent the ink from seeping through the paper.

Cup or Mug

Cup or Mug

Keep your highlighters in arm’s reach by storing them in a cup or mug on your desk. Choose a fun pattern or color, and you’ll instantly brighten up your workspace!

Mason Jar

Mason Jar

If you want to start planning your meals, keep a mason jar full of highlighters and pens in the kitchen. Create a calendar and use one color for breakfast, one for lunch, and one for dinner.

Pencil Case

Pencil Case

Zippered pencil cases are a great way to keep your highlighters and other supplies organized. You won’t have to sift through the bottom of your backpack again!



Every house should have a junk drawer! This is where you’ll keep odds and ends like rubber bands, pens, scissors, and of course, highlighters.

Plastic Tub With Lid

Plastic Tub With Lid

You might already store your craft supplies in storage containers. Consider doing the same thing for office supplies, such as notebooks, pens, and highlighters.



Wicker or cloth baskets are a must in every household. They look elegant, but also work wonders at hiding any unwanted clutter. Leave a few in your office to hold your highlighters and other supplies!

Corkboard Shelf

Corkboard Shelf

Create a DIY shelf by pushing two push pins evenly apart on a corkboard. Then you can simply rest your highlighter on the top!

Being organized is said to increase your productivity. With that in mind, it’s worth brainstorming ways to declutter. Start with your office supplies and then go about organizing everything else. You won’t regret it!

The Bottom Line

Fluorescein, and other chemicals like pyranine and rhodamine, are almost everlasting. Your highlighter marks won’t fade away, even after a few years! So give a silent “thank you” to the folks that make these bright pens. Studying, meal calendars, and projects at work wouldn’t be the same without them!


How It’s Made. (2008, July 9). How It’s Made – Highlighters. Retrieved from,

Cheddar Gadgets. (2019, October 30). How Highlighters Are Made. Retrieved from,

Compound Chem. (2015, January 22). The Chemistry of Highlighter Colours. Retrieved from,

Lu, A. (2019, February 14). How Long Does it Take the Average Highlighter to Run Out of Ink? Retrieved from,

How It Works Daily. (2014, July 2). What Makes Highlighter Pens So Bright? Retrieved from,

Smith, S. (2017, February 1). 7 Household Items You’re Better Off Storing Upside Down. Retrieved from,

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