Slinky Manufacturing Article

I don’t know how I missed this article when it first came out in 2002. The article describes the Slinky manufacturing, distribution and retailing process, beginning with the processing of scrap metal at a junked car lot in Florida and ending at a KB Toys retail outlet in Gaithersburg, MD (with stops in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and New Jersey along the way).

The slinky manufacturers are notoriously secretive about their manufacturing process (hence, no slinky factory tours), but this article gives some flavor for the process:

Just a few hours later, the wire was hooked up to the Slinky machines, which flattened, coiled and cut it. Workers crimped the ends of the still-hot Slinkys and placed them on a conveyor belt, which carried them to the machine that boxes them — each Slinky walking toward its own box.

First a Slinky hit a bar, flopped over and went down a step. A mechanical arm pulled a box from a stack, opened it and placed the box next to the Slinky, which was then automatically pushed inside.

The process isn’t mere theatrics; it’s a system of quality control that Slinky inventor Richard James devised in 1945. A Slinky wound too tightly or too loosely won’t walk down into the box correctly.