Odds and Ends

Manufacturing Plates

"Introducing The Beatles"
Printing Block & Proof slick



Nearly all vinyl records start with a taped recording. Some have been made live straight to disc.
The tape is played into an acetate lathe which cuts a "positive" playable, yet fragile, lacquer record.
Typically, the cut disc is used for various types of reference but it is also used to start the record making process.

Making Records

Video 1
Making Records

Video 2
Acetate lathe

The next step is to make a metal "negative" of the lacquer disc. Hot metal, of course, can't be used. Through a process called
electroplating, a metal negative, the "master", is made. The master plate will make a record but it would eventually wear out.
Since the initial electroplating process destroys the acetate, a new master could not be made. Another negative needs to be made.
So, a positive metal plate needs to be made from the master plate in order to produce another negative.

Again through electroplating, a positive "mother" is made. The mother can be played on a record player. The master is not
destroyed and can be used again. The mother is then put through the electroplating again. This time, producing the final negative
"stamper"plates. The stamper is used to "press" the vinyl record.

When the stamper wears out, the mother is used for only a second time and, of course, the master doesn't need to be used until the
mother finally wears out. Finally, at some point in time, the master will wear out and it is hoped that the original tape still survives.

Check these pages for excellent photos and descriptions of the record pressing process.