Badger badger badger..
June 9, 2005 10:48 AM   Subscribe

What is your experience with button/badge makers?

From what I've found, the stuff from Badge-A-Minit seems like a cheap and popular solution. I'm thinking of the cheapest handpresses, but it is essential to me that the buttons look professional. My problem is that it's hard to tell how the buttons will look without having a sample in my hand. I have not been able to find quality close-ups of finished buttons either.

I don't want my buttons to look home-made, even if they are.

I've heard that badge-a-minit buttons now have the company name written on their back. I guess that is acceptable, but it's the kind of thing that can take away from the professional look I want.

I'd like to hear your experiences with button makers. What brands and models would you recommend, that are cheap yet produce quality buttons?
posted by cheerleaders_to_your_funeral to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Are you making a lot? My old company outsourced a job of 300 to the Busy Beaver Button Co in Chicago and were happy with the results. It saved us a lot of time and was cheaper than investing in a machine. The company sent samples on request. When I was researching options, it looked to me as well that the Badge-a-Minit is the best and cheapesr option for DIY buttons. If I remember correctly, that machine will work with parts made by other companies--the pin backs just have to be the right size (1" is standard). If that's the case, you could buy your own from an art supply or craft store.
posted by hamster at 10:58 AM on June 9, 2005

I've used the Tecre button maker for 1-inch buttons. I don't like the way the Badge-a-Minit buttons look, actually, and their sizes are just too big for me. Here are some photographs.
posted by caitlinb at 11:30 AM on June 9, 2005

Yeah, as caitlinb mentions the Badge-A-Minit buttons are larger (minimum size is 1 1/2 inches), while a Model 100 will make 1" buttons. As far as I've been able to tell there are several companies who make (or at least sell) the Model 100, I got mine new on ebay.

I've heard really good things about Busy Beaver too, I'd use them if you want a bunch of the same buttons and only buy a button maker if you want small numbers of many different buttons. Keep in mind that you'll need a pretty decent color printer if you're doing your own too.
posted by cali at 12:05 PM on June 9, 2005

I got a $20 button maker from Badge-A-Minit when I was 11 or 12. I was making horrible looking buttons until I realized that you're not supposed to screw the top on all the way. Once I got that figured out, the buttons were coming out very nicely and looked professional. The buttons were much nicer than what I thought would be made by such a cheap machine.
posted by null terminated at 12:19 PM on June 9, 2005

I fifth busy beaver for small runs.
posted by drezdn at 1:03 PM on June 9, 2005

Response by poster: Yeah, I will be producing a lot of very different buttons, so outsourcing it isn't really an option.

caitlinb (or anyone else), can you describe how the badge-a-minit buttons are different than the Tecre ones, apart from size? The ones you linked to look really nice, but it looks like the Tecre machines are sigificantly more expensive.

Thanks a lot for your comments. Keep them coming!
posted by cheerleaders_to_your_funeral at 3:01 PM on June 9, 2005

I borrowed a button maker about a year ago to make about 10,000 buttons. Sorry, I've no idea what the make was, but wanted to point out that it's quite a labor of love to make them yourself.

We set up a production team, two cutting out the circles of paper, two setting up the parts for the machine, and two working the machine. The machine was quite small -- a little bigger than a big stapler, so it was a squeeze to get us all in place, but speeded things up by a factor of perhaps four over doing it alone. It still took hours though (more hours than I want to admit).

The final buttons (2" ones) looked professional while everyone was 'on' but as soon as one person lost it, odd things came out. The multiple steps involved have to be got just so, whether you do it alone or as a team.

Printing up the source material is an issue -- we bought a computer program that would design and lay out multiple circles for the printer, which was just a home HP DeskJet (the weakest link in the quality of output.)
posted by anadem at 3:07 PM on June 9, 2005

For the record, I've used Busy Beaver extensively, with great results.
posted by me3dia at 3:10 PM on June 9, 2005

Anadem, you made 10K buttons with a hand press and a scissors? Dear ghu.

Badge-A-Minit's hand press and, (I think) their bench press makes a slighty inferior looking button--there ae small creases/angles in the paper and plastic around the edge. Their larger Badge-a-Matic makes tiny crimps that look nicer, but frankly, I've never seen anyone who wasn't making buttons care about the difference. On the other hand, you're going to be making buttons....

I *think* Badge-a-Minit now offers button parts without their name on the back, but you can get much cheaper button parts from Badge Parts.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 4:33 PM on June 9, 2005

This might be helpful:

LJ CraftGrrl: Memorable Button Maker Posts
posted by tozturk at 4:40 PM on June 9, 2005

I have the cheapest badge-a-minit hand press. It makes perfectly professional-looking 1.5" buttons about 1/3 of the time, but the rest of the time they come out looking shoddy and half fallen apart. It's possible that there's some trick I'm missing (if there is, someone please enlighten me!), but I've messed with it extensively and have been unable to figure out what causes the variation.

So, if my experience is at all typical, I would recommend avoiding the cheap handpress...unless you're willing to throw away two crappy-looking buttons for every one that's actually worth keeping, that is.
posted by introcosm at 9:26 PM on June 9, 2005

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