The problem with the “vinyl boom” of recent years has been that the demand has squeezed supply, with remaining vinyl factories being pressed (heh) to deliver more and more stock as demand for LPs returns.
Imagine the relief to labels and suppliers, then, that the invention of injection-moulded vinyl records presents, unveiled recently by Dutch CD manufacturers Symcon.
Writes FACT Magazine:
In conventional vinyl manufacturing, the plastic is pushed on the grooves at an angle – but the injection-moulding method injects plastic straight into the record’s grooves, which copies the grooves on the stamper more accurately.
The injection-moulding method also promises to cut costs by reducing the energy used in the process by up to 65%, as it doesn’t require the huge amounts of steam currently used to heat up the PVC puck before it’s pressed between two stampers. The new system also applies no pressure to the stampers, which can currently only be used for up to 2,000 records before they become worn out.
Symcon says that injection-moulded records could be turned around in just two weeks, drastically reducing the current timeline of 12 to 16 weeks from cutting floor to shop.
There are still some hurdles to overcome, however.
Vinyl records are slightly more durable than the injection-moulded samples Symcon has made so far, and the material used for injection-moulded records is more expensive, at €0.45 per record compared to around €0.35. Testing the sound quality also isn’t easy – the conventional quality system for vinyl is not directly compatible with injection-moulded records.
Back in 2010, Panasonic ceased production of the legendary Technics SL1200 Mk6 analogue turntable (top), reputedly one of the most durable and reliable decks ever produced, claiming ‘adecline in demand for these analog products and also the growing difficulty of procuring key analog components necessary to sustain production.’
Since 1972, the company had sold 3.5 million SL1200 decks, beloved of DJs and vinyl aficionados the world over.
This year, with a current resurgence in vinyl, and following a sustained online petition, the SL1200 will return as the limited-edition SL-1200GAE.
In 1997, a special 25th anniversary edition SL1200LTD with gold plated accessories cost $1,200 (€1,070).
In 1950s Russia, where vinyl was scarce, music fans salvaged discarded radiographs from hospital waste bins, using a special device to press the grooves of forbidden jazz and rock ‘n’ roll bootlegs into the surface of the thick plastic.
The radiograph ‘records’ were cut into a rough disc shape with manicure scissors and a hole was burned with a cigarette. According to author Anya von Bremzen, “you’d have Elvis on the lungs, Duke Ellington on Aunt Masha’s brain scan — forbidden Western music captured on the interiors of Soviet citizens.”