What have we learned so far about buttonmaking?
Badge-A-Minit Hand Press
This is a break-prone nightmare, and despite its low initial price is a bad investment. Button quality is poor and it's a not small RSI risk. Additionally, it takes several minutes to make a single button after way too much fumbling with easily misplaced rings that simulate a proper die.
Its one advantage is that it does both 2.375 inch and Badge-A-Minit's "1¼", but you really shouldn't bother. Its only real use is as a cheap gateway drug to getting a real press. Please do yourself a favor and skip this step and just get a real button press directly. AVOID.
Badge-A-Minit Bench Press
Despite covering the full range of Badge-A-Minit's supported diameters, this is arguably the worst of everything: all the fragility and inconvenience of the hand press and its ring assembly issues and limitations combined with all the expense of buying of a real button press. AVOID.
When purchased used, this can be a reasonably cost-effective and reliable button press. Variants are available in multiple sizes, albeit only in the non-standard sizes introduced by Badge-A-Minit. They can also be improved by using dry lubricant (Liquid Wrench, et al -- note that these tend to be fluorine or even lead based and should not be sprayed or applied indoors). RECOMMENDED.
This is probably the most cost-effective electric button press on the market, especially if purchased used. It is only available for 2⅜ inch button supplies. Caveat: does not work reliably with Tecre supplies. RECOMMENDED.
This appears to be a Dawei-designed press, but uses Badge-A-Minit sizes. It has not been evaluated, but some reviewers note that the Badge-A-Matic I is more reliable (and by extension more reliable than other DAWEI presses).
It is not yet known if there are less expensive Dawei equivalent dies that can be used with Badge-A-Minit supplies. The Badge-A-Minit one is insanely overpriced and is not recommended at anything more than maybe a tenth of its full retail price.
Machinery to manufacture Dawei style equipment appears to be sold to a number of manufacturers that then produce identical to nearly identical button presses that are essentially interchangeable. Only metric diameters are supported, but it's a very wide range. They have a cut line that is further out from the bleed line than is typical of other equipment sources.
At least one source seems to suggest using 57mm dies with Badge-A-Minit supplies, but this seems dubious and is completely untested.
- The Pro's and Cons of Multiple/Interchangeable Die Machines
- 25mm press sold by OrangeA -- two of us have this one
Dr Don's Buttons
In addition to some amazingly expensive electrical presses, Tecre makes some manual presses in a wide selection of US sizes, including 2⅜ inch for use with Badge-A-Minit compatible supplies.
Circle Cutters and Punches
Cut-A-Circle is only about $30 and has inexpensive replacement blades. Unfortunately, it gets painful to use after awhile and the blades wear out.
Cut-A-Circle Plus -- this is untested, but a similar design by a third party (manufacturer never identified) was harder to consistently use successfully than expected.
Cut-A-Circle II is electric. They can be inexpensive to buy used, but do not have open-ended lifespans. If you want to go this route it may be best to buy a new one directly from Badge-A-Minit to ensure that you can avail of the lifetime warranty. You will probably need it. Also, be sure to unplug when not in use as it continues to draw power and reduce its life expectancy when plugged in.
The 2 in 1 Cut-a-Circle is just like the Cut-A-Circle II except that it also cuts for their "3 inch" equipment and may also use an incompatible blade design.
This is possibly the best way to cut circles: it's fast, easy, and can be quite accurate. Note that the sizes on these punches correspond to Dawei-style diameters.
For 2⅜ inch ("2¼ inch") on Badge-A-Minit equipment, use the circle punch for 58mm.
This list is known to be incomplete.
Only available in Badge-A-Minit sizes and seriously overpriced. Not recommended. You can get 2.375 inch at a minimum from several other sources to use with Badge-A-Minit equipment.
Badge Parts, Incorporated
Good news: possibly the least expensive supplies on the market.
Other news: The quality is very unreliable. Not really recommended.
The only known set of Dawei-branded supplies to have been used by us (25mm) have a serious design flaw with the pin that results in a high scrap rate unless you can figure out a way to align it correctly in a meaningfully short span of time. Avoid.
Dr Don's Buttons
Currently the main source used by the Texas caucus for 2.375 inch supplies.
This is possibly the best quality source available. Unfortunately, it doesn't work well with the Badge-A-Matic II, giving a scrap rate. between 50% and nearly 100%. Should work fine with the Badge-A-Matic I with a slightly altered order of actions: crimp the circle, cover and top _before_ putting the back into the bottom die.
Sizes Used So Far by the Radical Caucus
- 2⅜ inch
Several manufacturers make supplies that are this size given the ubiquity of Badge-A-Minit equipment, but some manufacturers also produce equipment for this size, including Tecre and Badge Parts Incorporated.
The most reliable circle cutter for making buttons this size using Badge-A-Minit presses is the punch designed by Dawei for 58mm buttons.
Dawei branded supplies with metal backs and flat metal pins are NOT recommended, as it can be difficult to get the in to align correctly when pressing. There is at least one other supplier of metal-backed 25mm supplies, and at least one source of plastic-backed supplies is known to be reliable.
This list is incomplete.
- 1 inch
May be interchangeable with 25mm supplies; most will probably have a smaller cut line diameter than the Dawei compatible templates we're presently using, but should otherwise work.
- Badge-A-Minit "1¼"
The exact diameter of this is not yet known, hampering finding supplies to fit Badge-A-Minit equipment for it.
Slightly smaller than Badge-A-Minit's dominant size, this is the size available from most equipment manufacturers. A pending revision of our button templates are modified to work equally well with 2¼ and 2⅜.
Slightly smaller than 3 inches, this is a candidate for a larger button size given how inexpensive Dawei compatible presses can be.
- An electric option for this size has been found here.
- Badge-A-Minit "3 inch"
This is Badge-A-Minit's 3 inch. It is difficult to find this size from vendors other than Badge-A-Minit. There is also conflicting information about its actual diameter (or even whether it's larger or smaller than three inches). If an actual diameter can be confirmed and compatible supplies other than Badge-A-Minit's overpriced offerings found, this may become a practical size to use with the Badge-A-Matic I.
- 3 inch
This size isn't cheap either, and neither is the equipment. We probably need something that's this or larger, however, even if we're only using it for special cases, such as candidates were supporting for LNC.