How Paintballs Are Made

Have you ever wondered how those thin yet sturdy shells were made that contain paint and can be shot out of a gun to splat all over your opponent? The process for making paintballs is pretty interesting and you might be surprised at what is used to make them.

Paintballs are made of a thin skin of gelatin that will break upon contact. They are filled with non toxic, water soluble ingredients that are colored by a dye. The paint is biodegradable and will come out of clothing or off human skin with just water. When the paintball hits a person it splats color signifying they have been hit.

Paintballs are made on special machines that aren’t available to the public as the process is too intricate and the machines are extremely expensive. The following process is a rather complicated and lengthy one that only manufacturers of paintballs can do.

To make the hollow shell of the paintball, the gelatin is melted down and other additives are introduced while color is added and blended in. This mixture is run through an encapsulation machine, the same type of machine that drug companies use to make gel caps. The machine forces the gelatin onto a cooled drum which produces a thin sheet of gel called a ribbon. Two ribbons each pass over their own rotating die, or mold, that forms each half of the ball. The dies press against each other as they are rotated and eventually align to meet and seal making a round ball by placing the two half shells together. Once that happens the shells are filled with paint injected into them. You can usually see a seam on each paintball. This is where the dies came together. The paintball is sealed and comes out of the die being dropped out of the machine. The shells are very soft and bouncy at this time. The balls go down a conveyor belt and are then put in trays to dry. During the drying period the gelatin shrinks around the paint making them less soft and bouncy.

The paint that goes inside the two shells is made by combining polyethylene glycol, which is also found in cough syrup, thickened with wax.

Two tone or Dual Colored paintballs are made the same way except there are two colors of gelatin being introduced instead of one. One side will be one color and the other side will be another.

After the paintballs have dried they go through a counting machine and into bags and cartons for you to purchase.

The quality of paintballs depends on the quality of the ingredients used to make them. Some companies make excellent quality paintballs but they are very expensive, up to $100 per 2000 round count. These should be left to those playing in tournaments since it could be detrimental to the game to have a defective paintball break inside the barrel of the gun. Other paintballs can cost around $50 to $60 per 2000 round box and still might be too expensive for practice. Practice balls can be purchased in a 500 count for about $16. That is a little more affordable, but they won’t be the same quality of the ones you pay more for. Find the paintball that is right for you by trying several different varieties.

Mike regularly writes for, they carry such paintball equipment as the EOS paintball gun and the Pinokio Hopper, as well as many other items from a variety of manufacturers.