How artificial Christmas trees are made

  • Artificial Christmas trees start with a steel frame and can come in different colours, tipped with “snow,” or built to be several stories tall.
  • Strips of green PVC plastic are cut into needles and then attached to the frame. Lights and ornaments are added on by hand and the tree is assembled.
  • The Science Channel shows us how fake Christmas trees are made.

The quest for the perfect tree is a rite of the holiday season, and ever since the late 19th century, people have been trying to come up with an artificial version. By the 1960s, the use of synthetics finally gave us the perfect fake fir. Today’s faux firs can be several stories tall.

These big, artificial trees start with a steel skeleton. Rollers bend steel tubing into arcs. They will be joined to form the base of the framework. Workers weld vertical supports to the arcs, building the structure in sections. A spray of polyester powder gives the welded metal a smooth finish that’s actually tougher than paint. They bake the parts to set the coating. It’s time to assemble all the pieces.

Meanwhile, a roll of green PVC plastic winds its way towards a roller equipped with many circular cutters. They slice it into a four-inch-wide strip. Each of the narrow plastic strips then goes under a roller with even more blades. They shred it into a needle-like configuration, leaving a solid spine at the center to hold the simulated needles together. An automated spool then winds up the fringed, green PVC. These artificial needles come in an assortment of colours.

Here, streams of the fringed green and a strip of brown PVC travel over tension control guides. Steel wire unwinds and merges with the green and brown PVC. This machine twists them together. The brown strip lands at the core of the twisted fringe, creating the illusion of a stem among the needles. This twisting technology churns out a continuous supply of artificial greenery. Giant scissors slice it to the correct length.

To make branches that appear snow-tipped, this machine twists and then frosts the PVC needles with a spray of white, latex paint.

They use this ring fastener to crimp the artificial foliage together that will be used to cover the tree’s framework. They string the lights and then plug them in to check each bulb. They also wire the ornaments to the branches. It’s one less job for the customer to do.

And now it’s time to put up the tree. It has taken just one day for this artificial tree to come together, where growing a real one this size would take many years.

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