Glossary of Vinyl Terminology

These are some common terms used in vinyl manufacturing, this may be a bit confusing if hearing these for the first time so contact us if you have any questions!

Lacquers:  A blank lacquer is an aluminum disc that is coated with a nitrocellulose lacquer layer. A lacquer is the first step in the vinyl manufacturing process – grooves are cut into the face of the blank lacquer via a machine called a lathe.  While a lacquer can be played on a turntable, master lacquers that are going to be used for a real pressing job are never played – they are sent directly to an electroplating facility to be used as the substrate in the Electroforming process that makes the metal parts which are eventually used to press records.  Cut lacquers are sometimes called the Master.

Lathe: A record lathe is a machine used to cut the grooves into the face of a blank lacquer.  This machine is not a record press – this is a machine designed to make single cuts of master recordings into blank lacquers, not to mass produce pressed records.

Biscuit: The sandwich that is ultimately pressed into a record.  A biscuit consists of a hockey-puck shaped piece of extruded vinyl between a Label on the top and bottom.  The biscuit is compressed by the Record Press into the shape of a vinyl record. 

Electroforming: The forming (or growing) of a metal onto the face of a substrate.  This process is used in many industries where very accurate replicas of a substrate are a requirement.  A very similar process is used to create the Stamper for CD Replication!

In record manufacturing, the substrate is the cut Lacquer.  The cut lacquer is cleaned and then sprayed with a silver solution.  This sprayed lacquer is then put into a bath of nickel sulfamate solution.  When an electric current is run through the bath, nickel atoms are drawn to the face of the silvered lacquer, and a nickel layer “grows” on the face.  When this nickel layer is removed from the lacquer, the removed layer becomes the father or stamper.

Fathers: A Father is the inverse of a cut lacquer – instead of playable grooves the face of the father consists of the inverse of grooves — peaks.  A father is used to create a Mother, and is then either stored for future use or, converted to a Stamper.  Fathers are sometimes called the Metal Master.

Mothers: The metal plate that is two steps removed from a cut Lacquer — a mother has grooves on its face, and can be played on a turntable.  A mother is used to make Stampers.

Stampers: The metal part that is affixed to a record press, which stamps grooves into melted vinyl Biscuits.  Stampers are the inverse of grooves — peaks instead of grooves.

Innersleeve:  This the the paper sleeve that the record is directly inserted into.  Our pricing includes blank innersleeves by default. Blank innersleeves most commonly have a diecut hole on each side so the record Label can show through.

Jackets: Also commonly referred to as a “cover” a jacket is the outer pocket that records are inserted into – records first go into an Innersleeve, and are then inserted into the record jacket.  

Label: The paper circle in the middle of a pressed record.  Sometimes referred to as a “sticker”, a record label is actually not adhered to the face of the disc after pressing – it is an integral part of the pressing process, and serves to cool the middle of the record while it is being pressed.

Matrix Inscription / Matrix Number: Sometimes also referred to as a “scribe” or “scribe number”.  The alphanumeric identifier that is etched into the lead-out (matrix) area of the record. Usually, this number is arbitrary – it just has to be something that is somewhat unique.  The matrix inscription is important to both the plating dept and the pressing dept, because it is the only way of visually identifying lacquers and metal parts.

Record Press:  A hydraulic press that compresses the vinyl Biscuit between two stampers and produces pressed records.  Pressed records are not made from blank discs.

Test Pressings:  These are actual pressed records, but typically are the first time that records are being pressed from a set of Stampers.  They are made from the same material as production records, and have the same groove information.  They typically have labels which designate them as test pressings. They are the “final approval” mechanism before productions copies of a particular program are produced.

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