Everything about stamper manufacturing

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1 - Creation of matrices for vinyl records: A delicate process

The matrices, these precious molds essential for the production of vinyl records, are produced from a complex and very precise process. This article reveals, in simple terms, how the matrices or "father discs" are created to later press the vinyl records in series.

1.1 - Cleaning and preparation of the lacquer

The process begins with a lacquer, a material too fragile to be used directly in the production of records. This lacquer is first cleaned carefully with soapy water.

In the next phase, stannous chloride is sprayed on, then a silver solution on the lacquer. The stannous chloride allows the silver to adhere better to the lacquer, giving birth to a thin layer of silver on the engraved side of the lacquer. This layer of silver makes the lacquer conductive.

1.2 - The electroplating process

After another rinse of the lacquer, it is immersed in a nickel solution and set to rotate. That's when electroplating begins.

The lacquer, covered with silver, acts as a cathode in a bath of nickel ions powered by an electric current of about 100 amps. This forms a nickel deposit about 0.12mm thick.

1.3 - Separation of the lacquer and the stamper

After the electroplating, we get the father disc, or stamper. This stamper is then separated from the lacquer, drilled and cut to the right diameter, or the process is repeated to obtain another stamper, called "mother".

Once the stamper is checked, the lacquer used as a mold is thrown away. What remains is the nickel disc, i.e. the stamper.

It is crucial to note that a vinyl record is pressed on both sides. Thus, to press a complete record, two matrices are required, one for each side.

In summary, the creation of a stamper is a meticulous and precise process, which transforms the fragile lacquer into a solid stamper, ready to be used for the pressing of vinyl records in series.

2 - What is Family, Father, Mother stamper?

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If you've ever wondered how vinyl records are produced, this article is for you. We will simplify the technical jargon and explain the manufacturing process using terms accessible to everyone.

2.1 - "Father" stamper: the starting point

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It all starts with the creation of the first stamper, called "father". This stamper can be used directly to press vinyl records, provided the order does not exceed 1000 copies. Otherwise, it serves as a base for the manufacture of other matrices.

2.2 - "Mother" stamper: an intermediate step

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The "mother" is a stamper that is created from the "father" stamper. The manufacturing process is similar to that of the "father", but without the application of the silver layer, as the nickel is already conductive.

It should be noted that the "mother" stamper cannot be used directly to press vinyl records, as it is a positive version of the music. However, it is essential for the production of additional matrices.

2.3 - "Son" stamper: the final product

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Finally, we have the "son" stamper, which is produced from the "mother" stamper. Each "mother" can generate from 5 to 10 "sons", which are the negative versions of the music. It is these "sons" that will be used for the actual production of vinyl records.

2.4 - Terminology: stamper and Family

The term "stamper" is a generic term that refers to the negative used to press vinyl records. Whether it's a "father" or "sons" made from a "mother", all are called matrices.

Finally, when referring to the complete realization of the process - from the "father" to the "mother", then to the "sons" - we use the term "family".

Thus, for each vinyl order, depending on the number of copies requested, one or more matrices will be necessary for manufacturing. It should be noted that a stamper, also called "stamper", has a lifespan limited to about 1000 vinyl record pressings. That's why the whole process of making the "family" of matrices is often necessary.

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