“You lift the tab, strike the wheel, and…Poof! It’s magic!” That is probably one of the best explanations of a Zippo lighter in recorded history. BRANDMADE.TV’s video “How a Zippo Lighter is Made” reveals the magic behind the fire.
Zippo lighters have been around for 80 years, but it was WWII that made the lighter a coveted implement. It’s windproof, can be operated with one hand, and is guaranteed to light, and that’s all due to its design. The Zippo classic lighter is made of two parts that are manufactured separately. The outer case will be chromed eventually, but it starts as raw brass sheet stock.
Using 60 tonnes of pressure, machines shape the brass into two pieces: the body and the lid. A hinge welded to the two pieces joins them together. The case is washed and sanded before going on to be first nickle-plated before the final step of chroming.
The inner assembly houses the mechanics, but where the outside starts as brass, the inside starts as steel. This time it takes a 60-ton press machine to form the pieces. The wheel is installed over the flint, while at the same time the wick eyelet is installed as well. The wick is inserted from the bottom so that it is always soaking up the lighter fluid. Cotton balls are packed around the wick to act as a sponge for the fuel.
The felt bottom then goes in with the flint spring being installed through it. With the assembly complete, every single lighter is tested. The insert is then married to the case.
In one day, 28,000 lighters are finished and shipped. Zippo can also customise the case, with thousands upon thousands of designs being available.
“Zippos are a cool product,” says George Duke, the grandson of Zippo founder George Blaisdell and the current owner. “And when you think of a person going through their life carrying that same Zippo, through the good times and through the bad times, it’s kind of a friend you have for a lifetime.”