How the Swiss Army knife factory makes 45,000 pocket knives per day
You've probably used one, or know of the iconic shape. After all, 10 million of these pocket knives are produced annually. But how does one factory produce 45,000 each day, and in such a precise manner?
The Swiss Army knives has been around for nearly 130 years. It was originally delivered to the Swiss Army by Karl Elsener in 1891. The knives are now produced by Victorinox, Europe's largest knife manufacturer. The company was founded in 1884.
The main factory in Ibach, Switzerland, produces a variety of knives, designed to offer versatility and compactness. Here, it takes around 5 minutes to produce a pocket knife depending on the model. There are 400 different models.
The basis of the knife is 85% iron, along with 13% chromium and a small trace of other metals.
2,400 metric tonnes of steel are imported to the factory each year. From these rolls, knife blades are stamped to 2 millimeters thick. This requires 50 metric tonnes of pressure. Each roll can make 16,000 blades.
Various tools require various alloys for hardness. Blades are made from hard steel, whereas screwdrivers are formed from softer steel. The blades are rounded off using triangular-shaped plastic wheels and water.
The knife blades are then extracted via a magnet and grinded down again to achieve an exact width. They are imprinted with a company stamp, then placed in an oven at 1,050 degrees Celsius.
The signature red outer casing is formed via injection molding. Other tools for the knives are produced on nearby machines via a process of milling and grinding.
The classic officer's knife is assembled by machine at the factory. Other editions are assembled by hand.
The blades are smoothed and given a final inspection. A small metal cross emblem — the Victorinox Cross Shield — is inspected via a microscope to ensure standard thickness. This was added the first time in 1909 and later to all Victorinox knives since 2006.
The knives are exported from the Ibach factory to over 120 countries.
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