The vinyl resurgence trudges on and a Dutch company is working on a new production method that could bring big changes to how the format is made. Symcon built an injection molding system for pressing vinyl records that not only reduces production costs and provides better audio quality, but it also uses 65 percent less energy during the manufacturing process. Energy is saved by not using steam to heat and press records and the company hopes it can eventually cut turnaround times from 12-16 weeks down to two.
Symcon is still working on perfecting the sound and durability of the records by searching for the optimal mixture of ingredients. According to Discogs, sound engineers who have been privy to the testing process have confirmed this method does exhibit a bump in audio quality over traditional vinyl records. How? Well, during the injection-molding process plastic is injected directly on the grooves of a record stamper which copies the information more accurately. With current methods, plastic is pushed into the grooves at an angle. What’s more, there’s no pressure on the stampers with injection molding so they can be used longer before sound quality is affected.
In addition to fine-tuning audio and durability, Symcon is also working to reduce the cost of the plastic material used to make these new records. Right now, it takes €0.35 (around $0.39) worth of material to press a vinyl record compared to €0.45 (around $0.49) for the injection molded method. The company will also need to develop a new way to test audio quality as the system for existing vinyl records won’t work with the new material. In order to meet the demands of today’s artists and collectors, the ability to produce colored records is another challenge to address in the future.
In addition to working with a range of partners to meet all of those goals, Symcon received a grant from the EU to help make the process (officially called Green Vinyl Records) available for commercial use.