The manufacturing process was developed soon after the invention of the match.

The processes
Safety matches manufactured in the country are of the standard type with wooden veneer or cardboard boxes and wooden splints. Most of the raw materials are the same regardless of the level of production, but the process is slightly different in the mechanized and hand-made sectors.
Raw Material: The major raw materials used in the production of safety matches are soft woods used to make the match sticks (also known as “splints”) and boxes, and chemicals for the match heads and the friction surface of the boxes. With the exception of sulphur, all the basic raw materials are produced within India. A number of Indian trees found suitable for use in the match industry like;

  • Semul (Bombax ceiba, known as Indian cottonwood) is good for boxes as well as splints
  • white mutty (Ailanthus malabarica) suitable for high quality splints
  • Indian aspen (Evodia roxburghiana) suitable for high quality splints
  • rubber tree (Hevea brazilensis) from plantations in Kerala is now being used for boxes.

The Production Process: In mechanized match manufacture the entire process of match making takes place under one roof from log to match. In the hand made sector veneer for match boxes and splints are produced separately. The remaining stages are all done manually, often as piecework at home and then assembled or boxed at small factory units. The technology of match making is relatively simple and involves a number of stages, whether they are mechanized or not:

  • Processing timber logs into outer and inner box veneers and splints is the first stage.
  • Box making comes next and is done both by machine as well as manually.
  • Dipping and filling in the handmade sector begins with the distribution of the cut and cleaned splints to workers along with wooden frames.
  • Labelling and packing come next, once the side painting dries. Workers take the painted boxes from the frames and affix labels and excise stamps to them.

The Industry Today
Per capita consumption of matches in India increased steadily from 2.45 sticks per capita in 1970 to 4.25 in 1985. There are wide fluctuations in the annual growth rate in the consumption of matches varying from as low as 3% (before 1970) to as high as 28% (from 1977 to 1983). The rising levels of income in relation to which prices of matches have shown remarkable stability over the years, growing urbanization, swelling numbers of smokers, and changes in fuel consumption patterns indicate that the future rate of growth could be higher than the 6% as supported by past trends.

 
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