Injection Moulded Records – Vinyl Of The Future?
Vinyl has long been beloved by audiophiles despite our society's assimilation with the digital age. But what if we could create better sounding vinyl records for cheaper and in less time?This article originally appeared on Dicogs
Although his company Symcon is specialized in CD manufacturing machines and supplies, Harm Theunisse was asked by more and more customers whether he could supply vinyl pressing machines as well. So he looked into the current vinyl pressing process, and was amazed that so little had changed since mankind first started pressing records. “There must be another, more environmentally friendly way” he thought, and together with several partners he developed a system for creating injection moulded records.
We visit Harm in Veldhoven, in the south of The Netherlands, to see how this process works. Over a cup of coffee he explains that they are still working on perfecting the quality of the sound and durability of the records, by testing out several combinations of ingredients. So the sound we will be hearing today is far from the perfection he is looking for. But according to Harm, a few well known sound engineers involved in testing (Rinus Hooning, Harry Coster and Sean Davies) have confirmed that the sound quality of the injection moulded records is better than that of vinyl records. The silences on the records for example, are more silent. And although the concept of injection moulded records is not completely new (there are a few 7″s in the Discogs database), making them in a 12″ size has not yet been done successfully on a large scale.
The aim is to reduce the production costs of records, to deliver a better sound quality and to reduce the impact on the environment by using 65% less energy than in the conventional record pressing process. A lot of energy is saved by not using steam. Maintenance of the new machines will be easier, with spare parts being readily available, and the new technique will hopefully reduce turnaround times. It now takes around 12-16 weeks for a record to get to the shops, Harm hopes to bring that down to two weeks, which is a timeline he is used to in CD production. Symcon works together with 7 other partners on developing the process: Record Industry supplies the stampers and their extensive know-how of current pressing processes, Koot takes care of the injection moulding machine, MPB machine casts the parts needed, Geelen automates the process/structure, PRG delivers the ingredients for the new compound, the Fontys Hogeschool and their students are developing a system to test the sound quality and Mikrocentrum is involved in sharing the knowledge gained through the development process. The project, which is named Green Vinyl Records, has received a grant from the European fund for innovation.