How Sports Bottles are Made

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa Mertes

Promo Expert

You bring a water bottle to work, the gym, and out running errands on weekends. If you have kids, they bring one along to school and baseball practice. Have you ever stopped and wondered how this essential piece of drinkware is made? A lot more goes into the process than you may think!

How are plastic water bottles made? What about aluminum and stainless steel? Bottles up! It’s time to learn all about the manufacturing process for your favorite drinkware.

The Manufacturing Process By Material

Water bottles, also referred to as sports bottles, have been in use since after World War II. They are made from aluminum, stainless steel, or most commonly, plastic.

The Manufacturing Process By Material

Plastic

Reusable water bottles are made from various plastics that vary in durability, recyclability, and flexibility. No matter which plastic is used, however, these water bottles are most often made through either injection molding or blow molding.

  1. Step 1: Into the Hopper
  2. Step 2: Dyed with Color
  3. Step 3: Pushed Through Heat
  4. Step 4: Injected Into Molds
  5. Step 5: Second Round of Molding
  6. Step 6: Reheated
  7. Step 7: Put Into a Larger Mold
  8. Step 8: Cooling & Packaging
The Manufacturing Process By Material
  1. Step 1: Into the Hopper

    Step 1: Into the Hopper

    Small plastic pellets are put into a funnel-shaped contraption called a hopper.

    Step 1: Into the Hopper
  2. Step 2: Dyed with Color

    Step 2: Dyed with Color

    The pellets are flushed out of the hopper and mixed with a colored dye in the intended color of the water bottle.

    Step 2: Dyed with Color
  3. Step 3: Pushed Through Heat

    Step 3:  Pushed Through Heat

    The dyed pellets are then pushed through a heated tube at about 150 to 350°F, which melts them down into a moldable goo.

    Step 3:  Pushed Through Heat
  4. Step 4: Injected Into Molds

    Step 4: Injected Into Molds

    The goo is then injected into molds that are in the shape of your water bottle and cooled down to harden.

    Step 4: Injected Into Molds
  5. Step 5: Second Round of Molding

    Step 5: Second Round of Molding

    After they’re removed from the mold, the sports bottles are only small plastic cones without their distinct shape. They have to go through another round of molding before they’re complete.

    Step 5: Second Round of Molding
  6. Step 6: Reheated

    Step 6: Reheated

    The plastic cones are reheated again so they’re flexible and easy to mold into a new shape.

    Step 6: Reheated
  7. Step 7: Put Into a Larger Mold

    Step 7: Put Into a Larger Mold

    The plastic cones are reshaped in a larger mold as air is forced up in the center, causing the bottle to expand into its desired shape.

    Step 7: Put Into a Larger Mold
  8. Step 8: Cooling & Packaging

    Step 8: Cooling & Packaging

    At the end, you’re left with a beautiful water bottle ready to keep you nice and hydrated!

    Step 8: Cooling & Packaging

See the entire injection molding process in action!

Blow Molding

Blow, or rotational molding, is another way to make plastic water bottles. This is when manufacturers use thermoplastic polymers and pressurized air to create hollow objects like bottles and containers. The process was inspired by the ancient technique of glass blowing and is broken down by either extrusion, injection, or stretch blow molding.

Extrusion Blow Molding

Extrusion Blow Molding

This is used for a higher production of sports bottles, which often also includes filling and labeling the bottles.

Injection Blow Molding

Injection Blow Molding

This process is similar to injection molding, where a melted down polymer is injected into a preformed mold and blown out from a tube called a parison. It is often used for medical or single serve bottles.

Stretch Blow Molding

Stretch Blow Molding

The plastic is stretched out and then expanded by the blowing process. The end result is a plastic bottle that’s extremely durable.

Every manufacturer uses a different system for blowing out the plastic. No matter what, though, they all result in an awesome water bottle that’s ready to be filled!

  • Injection Molding

    • Melted plastic is injected into the mold under intense pressure until it forms the shape of the water bottle

    • Excess air causes bubbles or abnormalities

    • About 90% of the production time is dedicated to making the mold

    • Higher cost

    • Rigid

    • Eco-friendly

    • Slower turnaround

    • Ideal for one plastic object

    • Typically uses PP (polypropylene) or PS (polystyrene) plastic

  • Blow Molding

    • A plastic tube called a parison is heated and filled with air; the mold is clamped around the parison until it takes the shape

    • Air is crucial to the process

    • About 50% of the production time is dedicated to making the mold

    • Lower cost

    • Flexible

    • More excess scrap material

    • Faster turnaround

    • Good for multiple plastic parts

    • Typically uses PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) or HDPE (high-density polyethylene) plastic

Injection Molding
Blow Molding
  • • Melted plastic is injected into the mold under intense pressure until it forms the shape of the water bottle

    • Excess air causes bubbles or abnormalities

    • About 90% of the production time is dedicated to making the mold

    • Higher cost

    • Rigid

    • Eco-friendly

    • Slower turnaround

    • Ideal for one plastic object

    • Typically uses PP (polypropylene) or PS (polystyrene) plastic

    • A plastic tube called a parison is heated and filled with air; the mold is clamped around the parison until it takes the shape

    • Air is crucial to the process

    • About 50% of the production time is dedicated to making the mold

    • Lower cost

    • Flexible

    • More excess scrap material

    • Faster turnaround

    • Good for multiple plastic parts

    • Typically uses PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) or HDPE (high-density polyethylene) plastic

Quote Icon

Blow molding and injection molding are great ways to create water bottles because they allow you to control every step of the process and for it to run efficiently for long periods of time.

– Paul Hanney, Sales Manager at Garyline Promotional Products

What About Aluminum and Stainless Steel?

Unlike plastic water bottles, many aluminum and stainless steel options are vacuum-sealed and insulated. As a result, the process for making these bottles is different than blow molding or injection molding. These water bottles are built to last, which is why amazingly, some of the earliest ones can still be found today!

To see the process in action, take a look at how Sigg water bottles are made!

  1. Step 1: Forming the Cylinder
  2. Step 2: Chopping Extra Material
  3. Step 3: Shaping the Bottles
  4. Step 4: Adding on the Metal
  5. Step 5: Washing the Bottles
  6. Step 6: Lining with Polymer
  7. Step 7: Firing in an Oven
  8. Step 8: Painting
  9. Step 9: Reheating
  10. Step 10: Ready for Drinking!
  1. Step 1: Forming the Cylinder

    Step 1: Forming the Cylinder

    Small aluminum discs travel to a punch-press where they’re stretched into a long cylinder by 660 tons of force.

    Step 1: Forming the Cylinder
  2. Step 2: Chopping Extra Material

    Step 2: Chopping Extra Material

    Excess aluminum is removed from the side of the water bottle by a mechanized blade. From there, it’s sent down a conveyor belt and onto an aluminum wheel to be prepared for the next step.

    Step 2: Chopping Extra Material
  3. Step 3: Shaping the Bottles

    Step 3: Shaping the Bottles

    The aluminum cylinders are shaped into bottles. The machinery goes over the cylinder 26 times to draw the bottle’s opening down to half its original diameter.

    Step 3: Shaping the Bottles
  4. Step 4: Adding on the Metal

    Step 4: Adding on the Metal

    An extra piece of metal is added to the top of the bottle that’s designed for the eventual cap. This will help the cap twist firmly into place on the bottle.

    Step 4: Adding on the Metal
  5. Step 5: Washing the Bottles

    Step 5: Washing the Bottles

    The aluminum water bottles go into a scrubbing station where all the excess lubricant and debris is removed.

    Step 5: Washing the Bottles
  6. Step 6: Lining with Polymer

    Step 6: Lining with Polymer

    After the water bottles are dried, they move down the assembly line where the inside is fitted with a high-tech polymer plastic via a spray nozzle. This is what gives the bottle its insulation.

    Step 6: Lining with Polymer
  7. Step 7: Firing in an Oven

    Step 7: Firing in an Oven

    The polymer is at first powdery but ends up solidifying after the aluminum bottles are placed in an oven that’s heated to 365°F for 10 minutes.

    Step 7: Firing in an Oven
  8. Step 8: Painting

    Step 8: Painting

    The bottles are spray painted in their sleek aluminum coating for a smooth, even finish.

    Step 8: Painting
  9. Step 9: Reheating

    Step 9: Reheating

    Once the bottle is sprayed in the intended color, it’s put again into an oven to solidify. The result is a smooth exterior on the aluminum water bottle.

    Step 9: Reheating
  10. Step 10: Ready for Drinking!

    Step 10: Ready for Drinking!

    The whole process takes about 3 hours, with the final result being a nice, smooth metal water bottle for your hydrating needs.

    Step 10: Ready for Drinking!

Want to see the whole process in action? Check out this video from “How It’s Made.”

How Water Bottle Lids Are Made

The water bottle is only a cup without its signature lid, which comes in a wide variety, from built-in straws to twist caps to attached carabiners. Some water bottles even have mix-and-match lid colors, such as this green cap on the blue bottle featured here.

How Water Bottle Lids Are Made

No water bottle lid is made the same, but they’re often made separately from the actual container. When it comes to the design, the lid goes through a similar process as the container. For instance, at Garyline, a top water bottle vendor in the United States, the lids are designed on a digital screen and then molded by a machine. Some lids, depending on the structure, are shipped from overseas while others are made directly in the United States.

The design of the water bottle works hand-in-hand with the design of the lid. Measurements are taken to ensure that the cap screws on tightly and nothing leaks out. It’s this kind of quality control that makes water bottles so easy to carry around during busy days.

How Water Bottle Lids Are Made

How is the Design Added to Water Bottles?

How is the Design Added to Water Bottles?

Since many people carry water bottles around during the day, they’re often printed with a name or logo and used as advertising items. Think of a school handing them out on college orientation night, a fitness center selling them to customers, or a non-profit using them at a fundraiser.

The logo or design is added to the exterior of the water bottle through a number of different techniques.

How is the Design Added to Water Bottles?
Screen Printing

Screen Printing
A thick green goo called emulsion is spread over a screen, transferring your design onto the water bottle. This is the most common way to customize water bottles.

Screen Printing
Full Color Printing

Full Color Printing
As the name suggests, the logo or design will be in full color. You can print as many colors as you need, without being charged an additional amount.

Full Color Printing
Laser Engraving

Laser Engraving
High-tech lasers etch your design onto the surface of the water bottle. This is often a great choice for stainless steel or aluminum options.

Laser Engraving
Pad Printing

Pad Printing
A giant stamp is covered in ink and used to create a design on the water bottle. If you plan on printing one color on top of the other, this is a good option!

Pad Printing
Why Advertise with Water Bottles?

Why Advertise with Water Bottles?

No matter why they’re used or how they’re printed, custom water bottles are a great way to bring more awareness to any organization or event. The color possibilities are endless, and people actually use water bottles every day. This means a ton of exposure for your brand!

Stats for Success

On average, reusable water bottles last about five years.

A reusable water bottle can save the average American $6,180 in water after only five years of use.

The market for reusable water bottles is expected to reach $10.19 billion by 2024.

The Bottom Line

Whether you use a plastic or stainless steel option, and whether it’s customized or blank, your water bottle is just as important as your phone, car keys, and wallet when you leave for the day. Take the time to appreciate all the craftsmanship that goes into your favorite drinkware!

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a super cool Copywriter at Quality Logo Products. She’s a fan of diving into the history of some of the earliest promos on the planet. If you need her, you’ll find her buried in research, in the middle of a phone interview, or singing way off-tune in her office.

References

Beall, G. (2009, April 9). By Design: World War II, Plastics, and NPE. Retrieved October 8, 2018, from https://www.plasticstoday.com/content/design-world-war-ii-plastics-and-npe/27257907612254

Worth, J. (2017, July 13). Thermoforming vs. Injection Molding: What’s the Difference? Retrieved October 8, 2018, from https://www.rodongroup.com/blog/thermoforming-vs-injection-molding

Keesler, C. (2014, September 22). Interesting Facts About Thermoforming. Retrieved October 8, 2018, from http://www.papublishing.com/news/2014/09/interesting-facts-about-thermoforming/

Craftech Industries. (2018). How it Works: Blow Molding. Retrieved October 8, 2018, from http://www.craftechind.com/how-it-works-blow-molding/

Indiana Bottle Co. (2018). 3 Differences Between Injection Molding and Blow Molding. Retrieved October 8, 2018, from http://indianabottle.com/3-differences-injection-molding-blow-molding/

Accutherm. (2015, January 26). The Importance of Temperature Control in Plastic Injection Molding. Retrieved October 8, 2018, from http://accutherm.com/blog/importance-temperature-control-plastic-injection-molding/

Divi. (2018). Injection Molding vs. Blow Molding. Retrieved October 8, 2018, from https://designtekplastics.com/tips/injection-molding-vs-blow-molding/

Penn State. (2017, October 10). Mathematics for Sustainability: Fall 2017. Retrieved October 9, 2018, from http://sites.psu.edu/math033fa17/2017/10/10/plastic-vs-reusable-water-bottles/

Transparency Market Research. (2016, October 21). Reusable Water Bottle Market to Reach US $10.19 Billion by 2024. Retrieved October 9, 2018, from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/reusable-water-bottle-market-to-reach-us1019-billion-by-2024---new-research-report-published-by-transparency-market-research-597905681.html