Are you curious about the chemicals and materials that go into making markers? If so, you’re in for a treat! Below, we will take a closer look at how markers are made, from the ingredients used to the manufacturing process.
Starting with a simple question can yield a complex answer, which is the case with markers. Markers are made from various materials, and the process of manufacturing them is complex and multi-step.
We’ll go over the steps involved in making markers, from sourcing the raw materials to producing the product. So, read on to learn about “How are markers made?”
Table of Contents
Materials – What Are Markers Made Out of?
The materials to make a marker include those used in making the ink and the body components, such as the cap, tip, body, and ink reservoir.
- For the ink, there are solvents, colorants, resins, additives, preservatives, and water.
- For the body components, there are plastic, powder, water, and polyester.
Manufacturing Process – How Are Markers Made?
1. Making the ink
Marker ink is made of a solvent, colorants, and resin.
- Solvent: The solvent dilutes the ink and enables it to move through the marker. A common solvent used in markers is alcohol.
- Colorants: They can also be referred to as pigments. Colorants are what give the ink those vivid colors we need.
- Resin: This helps make the ink stick to the surface you are laying it on.
- Note: Resin can be made up of one or more polymers, and these make the difference between dry-erase markers and permanent markers. The former uses oily silicone polymers, while the latter uses acrylic polymers.
The components are mixed with water. Generally, water accounts for 10 percent of the marker’s total weight. Other additives and preservatives are also added to the mixture.
Examples of added additives include:
- Alkylpoly-glycol ether
- Nonylphenylpolyglycol ether
- Fatty acid polyglycol ester
Examples of added preservatives include:
- Ortho-phenol phenyl
- Ortho-hydroxy diphenyl
2. Making the marker
Every marker includes a cap, tip, body, and ink reservoir.
- Cap: This seals the marker and keeps the ink of the marker from drying out.
- Tip: Also called the nib, this is the part that transfers ink onto a surface.
- Body: This is also referred to as the barrel. It is the container of the marker, housing all the internal components.
- Ink Reservoir: This is where the ink of the marker is stored.
The overall process: Step-By-Step
- The body and cap of the marker are made and set aside.
- The ink reservoir is made and placed inside the body.
- The tip is made and assembled at the top of the marker, sealing it.
- The cap is attached to the bottom of the marker, completing the process.
Each part is made in a separate marker manufacturing step as follows:
1. The Marker’s Cap
The cap is made in the same way as the maker’s body, However, its mold has a different shape. It is also not printed with a design.
2. The Marker’s Tip
- Powder and water are mixed together in a pre-set ratio
- The mixture is molded and baked to form a flat or pointed shape
3. The Maker’s Body
- Plastic is heated to liquefy
- The liquid plastic is injected into a cylinder mold made from plastic resin
- The liquid plastic is left to cool and harden into the cylinder shape
- The cylinder shape becomes the body/barrel and is printed with a design
- Note: Designs vary by manufacturers.
4. The Marker’s Ink Reservoir
A soft polyester material is molded into a cylinder to serve as the ink reservoir. It has an absorbent core, and it is filled up with ink.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do markers work?
If you make a DIY marker, you can delve deep into how markers work. But if you do not have the time to do so, here is a concise answer: the ink inside a marker travels through the barrel. It reaches the tip/nib, where it is laid down onto the surface that the tip/nib comes into contact with.
It works in the same way as other writing tools, such as highlighters.
How and when were markers invented?
The history of markers is a long one. It is believed that Sidney Rosenthal made the first modern marker in 1953 when he attached a felt tip to the end of a bottle of ink. But way before this, there were pens with nibs and quills used for similar purposes.
Some important dates for famous marker brands:
- The famous black Sharpie marker was introduced in 1964.
- The dry-erase EXPO marker was made in 1976.
- Crayola washable markers were released in 1978.
How is marker ink made?
Ink is a mixture of a solvent, colorants, and resin. In the past, it was made from natural extracts that had colors, like colored juices, plants, flowers, and animals. But, nowadays, other synthetic ingredients are added, such as additives and preservatives.
Toluol and xylol were synthetic solvents in marker dyes, but they are toxic. So, they are mostly replaced by safer alternatives like cyclic alkylene carbonates.
What are some Sharpie ingredients?
As a permanent marker, Sharpie shares the same ingredients as we have mentioned above.
- For the colorants, Sharpie uses ‘Permachrome.’ This is the same as those used for ink-jet printers.
- For resins, the brand uses xylene and toluene. The former is often found in varnishes and paints, while the latter is usually in gasoline and crude oil.
What creates the marker scent?
- Marker is made up of a combination of compounds, and the scent of the ink is produced when these compounds are released into the air.
Alcohol, being volatile and evaporative, is what primarily contributes to the scent of the ink. Alcohol evaporates fast when it meets air, and this is why marker ink has a noticeable scent.
- Some markers are scented with fruity and flowery fragrances, making them appealing to kids. The smells come from “ester,” a chemical substance that is produced when alcohol and carboxylic acid react, along with sulfuric acid as a catalyst.
- The smell of marker ink can also be influenced by the type of paper it is laid upon or used for printing.
For example, the paper can be treated with chemicals, such as waxes or oils, which enhance the smell of the ink. Another example is glossy paper, which tends to absorb more ink, resulting in a stronger scent.
Are Crayola markers vegan?
Unfortunately, they are not. Crayola markers are made of ingredients derived from animals, to name a few: gelatin, animal fats, shellac. If you want vegan markers, you will have to look for other brands.
Also, here is another explainer video you can watch for more details.
Now, you know the complete answer to, “How are markers made?” Different ingredients are used to make the ink and other rigid parts of a marker. There are also many chemicals involved. Going forward, as markers are improved, manufacturing them can become even more complex. When that happens, let’s meet up again!
Hi, I am Eveline Kessler, a content creator. My love for colors and arts draws me here to join the Intermediarts team with Leilani. I am responsible for testing new products and techniques with her and providing honest reviews and tips based on our experience. I have gained a lot of knowledge from this, and I believe you will find her suggestions to be invaluable as well.