There are two types of cigars: Machine Made and Hand Made.
Both types of cigars have three main parts. The filler, the binder and the wrapper. Each step of making a machine made or hand made cigar is vital to the quality of the finished cigar.
MACHINE MADE CIGARS
A machine made cigar is basically a bundle of tobacco that is rolled into a tubular shape. This bundle is called the filler. The filler is held together by the binder. The binder and filler are covered with the wrapper. The entire process of making this type of cigar is totally automated. It is the operator that feeds these machines with the various tobacco parts. There are some very good machine made cigars.
The filler is the part of the cigar that gives most of the flavor. In machine made cigars, the filler is made from chopped or shredded pieces of tobacco. These pieces are usually the scraps from hand rolled cigars. In high quality machine made cigars, the pieces are relatively uniform in: size, texture and grade. In some low grade machine made cigars, these scrap pieces consists of low quality tobacco. In very low grade machine made cigars one could find pieces of stems or woody like stalks.
The binder is used to hold the filler together. High quality machine made cigars use a tobacco leaf for this purpose. Lower quality and cheaper machine produced cigars use a Homogenized Tobacco Leaf (HTL) as a binder. HTL is usually made from tobacco scraps that are ground up, mixed with combustible agents and water, then stretched and rolled in a large paper like sheet.
The wrapper is the last part of the cigar. It is the outer skin. The wrapper gives the cigar its appearance. Machine made cigars are not made with wrappers that develop into oily, silky smooth grand cigars. Some people believe that the wrapper gives about 50%-70% of the cigars taste. Others believe the filler gives the cigar its taste.
Machine made cigars are produced in most cigar producing countries and are the least expensive. They are offered in: cigarette stores, news stands, gas stations, etc. They are usually sold in cellophane wrappers. Most are small to medium in size. Some have a hole in the cap or head of the cigar. Although some machine made cigars have great taste and draw well, they are not able to offer the complex taste that develops with a quality hand made cigar made with long leaf filler.
Making machine made cigars inside the La Corona factory in Old Havana. A wrapper leaf is spread out on one side of an idle aluminum disc that rotates. With one swift motion, gears move, the aluminum disc rotates 1800, wheels spin, little arms reach out and grab bunches of tobacco, the operator puts another wrapper leaf on the ready side of the disc. In a few seconds rolled filler is being covered with its wrapper. And so it goes. Cigar after cigar. The equipment employed to make machine made cigars is virtually unchanged for 40+ years. There is a tremendous amount of maintenance required to keep this apparatus operative.