Manufacturing for Labels

Manufacturing arranged for distributed labels via in-house partner Well-Tempered:

With over a decade of music industry experience specialising in vinyl & CD production, Well Tempered offer the very best in manufacturing solution and consultancy. A wealth of knowledge and years of maintaining excellent supplier relationships enable us to offer you much more than a standard manufacturing facility.

What sets them apart from a standard broker is that we work with a selection of the world’s best pressing plants and mastering engineers to ensure that our tailored service is best suited to your needs. We can advise on where to get your audio mastered, and which plant is right for your requirements.

Experience in key areas of the music industry including distribution, label management services & production mean we’ll find the most suitable option to bring your music to market. We will ensure your product is always to schedule and cost, whilst maintaining premium quality both audibly and visually.

 

Vinyl Record Manufacturing:

Mastering - It is important that you supply pre-mastered files with sufficient headroom, this will enable the mastering engineer to get the best out of your music. The files must be labelled correctly in the correct order.

Vinyl Mastering - Your music will be prepared by a cutting engineer and made ‘vinyl-ready’. Due to limitations of vinyl, audio will need processing before it is cut onto a lacquer using a lathe. The cutting stylus converts the audio to mechanical motion by cutting a precise spiral groove across an acetate coated aluminium disc, 14”s in diameter.

Processing - Through a very complicated and delicate process, the lacquer is carefully cleaned and washed in preparation for silvering. A sliver nitrate is then sprayed onto the lacquer, creating a metal coating and making it ready for electroplating. The silver disc is submerged in a solution of nickel sulphamate electrolyte for a period of approximately ninety minutes. The nickel is deposited onto the lacquer through the electroplating procedure creating a negative which can then be separated from the original disc. The negative is then cleaned and coated with a passivator. The electroplating procedure is repeated with the negative in order to create a new positive. This positive is an exact copy of the original lacquer but made from nickel metal, this positive is also known as the metalwork. From the metalwork the stampers can be made. These are negatives, so once again have to be produced through electroplating as before. Stampers can be used to create approximately one thousand records until it is worn out or split. A new stamper has to then be made from the positive.

Test Presses - Test Presses are then created and sent for approval. These must be checked carefully for audio quality, skips, pops and crackles, and surface noise. It is necessary to do this using a good quality record player and stylus.

Vinyl Pressing - After separation, the stamper is prepared and fixed onto the press. The mechanical system drops a bottom centre label into place onto the bottom stamper, followed by the vinyl biscuit or ‘cake’, and then finally the top label. The stampers are then quickly heated with steam and then pressed together and the vinyl squeezed into shape. A blade then swings round and shaves off the excess vinyl, while the stampers are cooled using cold water.

Coloured Vinyl - The vinyl compound starts off clear, a polycarbonate is added which colours the vinyl black. It is this additive that reduces the noise floor level. A pressing of coloured vinyl requires a dye and uses less polycarbonate resulting in slightly noisier floor level. As a simple rule, the lighter the colour of the vinyl the noisier the record.

Packaging - Many pressing plants have automated sleeving machines, though many prefer to sleeve the product manually. Manual sleeving enables the plant to give that extra added quality control, and make sure that no defective records are shipped to the customer.

 

Compact Disc Manufacturing:

A process whereby commercial CDs are replicated using a Glass Master. A CD can be used to store audio, or data (CD-Rom) in various standardised forms.

Glass Mastering - The glass master is extremely delicate and the requirements are very specific. The mastering is performed in a self-enclosed clean environment to avoid any contamination such as hair, dust or smoke. The round plates of glass are 240mm in diameter and 6mm thick with a small area of steel on one side to facilitate handling. The glass is polished until very smooth as even microscopic scratches would affect the quality of the finished product. The glass is then cleaned with chemicals before being washed on a spin coater. The rotation spreads the solvent wash over the master to ensure an even coating. The glass is then placed into an LBR (Laser Beam Recorder) which writes the information using the source material from the DDPi or Production Master CD. A chemical solution is then used to wash away the part exposed to the laser which forms the pits and the lands.

Electroplating - A layer of nickel is then added to the master through electrolysis. The nickel layer is then separated from the glass and used as the stamper, this is an exact negative of the CD. With the mould ready, the CDs can now be replicated.

Replication - In order for the CD to be readable, it must be covered with a micro thin layer of aluminum which is vacuum laid. The aluminum surface acts as a mirror to reflect the laser light back so information can be read. To protect the CD and its information from harm — scratching, bending, or dropping it — the disc is covered with a layer of varnish. The lacquer envelops the aluminum and seals it from the elements. The disc is then ready for printing. The CD can then be silkscreen or offset printed with artwork. Silkscreen is normally used for vector graphics for better color matching. Offset is used for photographic artwork using CMYK as the basic color elements. Once the artwork is printed, the disk will be exposed to a high intensity UV lamp which dries the ink instantly. The discs are stacked and then transported for packaging.

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