The manufacture of gumball and candy machines has evolved over time from their earliest forms in the early 1900s, to today’s factory-produced models. Today, numerous factories around the world produce gumball and candy machines that make a small, but significant contribution, to a global vending machine market estimated to hit 35.2 million units by 2015.

Manufacturing for the most part follows several basic steps involving pressing, molding and cutting the metal and plastic parts. Those steps are as follows:

  1. The machine is designed by engineers, and manufacturing specifications are made.
  2. Once production begins, molten zinc is pressed through a die to form the metal base of the machine.
  3. Another die press forms the coin mechanism and drive gears.
  4. The chute is formed from molded aluminum.
  5. The lid is formed by a punch press.
  6. The globe, formed from shatterproof plastic, has a hole milled in the top so candy may be placed in the assembled machine.
  7. The coin mechanism is formed from various components, including a clutch to prevent the handle from being turned the wrong way. In our Rhino machines, we also include a drop-thru mechanism to prevent the wrong coinage from vending the product.
  8. Once assembled, the machine is tested.
  9. The lid is powder coated, and that paint is baked until dry.
  10. The completed components are then assembled, from base up, to create the machine.

Zinc, which has a melting point of 787 degrees F, has anti-corrosive properties and is the 24th most common element – making it an inexpensive, yet durable metal from which to form many of the gumball and candy machine components. Obviously, using polycarbonate for the candy globe is much safer than glass as it is shatter-resistant — a useful property considering how many children are making use of gumball machines. Finally, the aluminum is a lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and all-purpose metal that has a nice appearance and is easy to mold.

The bodies of many gumball machines are plastic, although some higher-end machines feature all-metal bodies (usually zinc) for added durability.

Want to make your own home-build gumball machine for fun? Machines have been made from wood, sheet metal, and even toy plastic bricks.