Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/703

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687
ONLY A MATCH.

be given here; so we only mention a few facts concerning their performance.

The first machine prepares daily 3,000 square metres of board, out of which 200,000 boxes can be made. The second machine cuts up the board into strips affording material for between 300,000 and 400,000 boxes. Another machine sticks these boxes together. The outside box is held together with blue paper. This paper is introduced in endless strips about fifty-six centimetres broad from a roller adjusted sidewise to it; and the cutting, turning, and parting are all done automatically. With one girl to serve it the machine completes daily 36,000 outer boxes. Another machine makes the drawers of the boxes, turning out 25,000 of them in a ten hours' day. Next the boxes are smeared on the narrow sides with the preparation on which the matches are rubbed. A machine does this for between 120,000 and 150,000 boxes a day, more neatly and correctly than can be done by a man's hand. Finally, there is the machine for pasting on the name of the firm, which tickets from 40,000 to 50,000 boxes a day, using less paste in the operation than a workman would. If we reflect now that there are thousands of these machines in different parts of the world, we may be able to comprehend the importance which the match industry has reached in our time.

We return to our sticks, which we left in the drying room, and which are yet to be furnished with the inflammable heads. Before this is done, the tips of the sticks are smeared with some substance that will take fire readily sulphur, paraffin, or stearin. For this purpose they are dipped in the matter while it is warm. It was discovered at the beginning of the manufacture that no progress could be made if single matches were to be dipped by hand, and frames were devised for the purpose; they were made of thin boards, in which rows of parallel grooves were cut. The sticks were laid in these grooves, and they being short, the matches projected from them. The boards, having been filled up, are tightly packed in larger frames, and the whole, containing hundreds of thousands of matches, is immersed in the bath. The sticks were formerly deposited in the grooves by girls, who became so dexterous in the business that they could handle as many as 200,000 of the splinters in a working day. More recently machines have been substituted for this tedious labor, with which 1,500,000 matches can be handled in a day. But no one has succeeded in inventing a machine for coating the heads with the inflammable matter. That has still to be done by hand.

When the heads are fixed, the matches are returned to the drying room, where they remain till they have parted with all their moisture; then they are taken out of the frames, laid together, and packed in boxes. This part of the work, which is