Lathe cut records are made from clear or Black Polycarbonate plastic and are cut individually each time. They are made by using a record lathe to cut grooves in the discs. These lathes are commonly used in the vinyl manufacturing process to cut the lacquer master discs used to make metal stamps.
My lathe cuts are etched onto clear or black polycarbonate discs. I buy 7.5" x 7.5" square polycarbonate sheets in bulk and trim the squares on our circular cutting machine. These discs are the same as standard record size of 1/16" thick x 7" in diameter, technically they are the RIAA industry standard diameter of 6-7/8 inches. The records are more durable and less likely to warp.
I manufacture sapphire needles for embossing. This particular needle allows me to cut or emboss around 300 discs before it starts to show the effects of ware.
Before cutting the record, it is essential to clean off any residue left by the protective "Peel-Off" plastic film. You must remove the invisible adhesive film left behind by the protective peel-off plastic. I have found that using lighter fluid to clean off this residue works best, and don't be mislead, lighter fluid dose not soften or lubricate polycarbonate it evaporates very fast. I don't use "Turtle Wax or DW-40" either, I always emboss dry at room temperature and no heat lamps.
How long do they last?
Records made of polycarbonate are the same type of plastic used in CD's, but CD polycarbonate is a bit more brittle. They are both much more durable than acetate lacquer and can be played over and over again without any noticeable loss of sound quality.
How long is the turnaround time?
A lathe cut record is an instant vinyl record. My lathe cuts turnaround time is 2 days for 10 copies. Lathe cutting is the fastest way to produce a record. A vinyl record can be made in a matter of minutes, whereas a custom vinyl pressing can take several weeks. Because the plating and pressing process is skipped, time is saved with lathe cuts.
The length of the audio program will determine how long it takes to make each physical copy. The vibrations of the cutter head's stylus are etched directly onto the surface of the flat disc. If a song is 4 minutes long, it will take 4 minutes plus set-up time to adjust audio levels and compression.
How's the sound quality of the Lathe-cut record?
My lathe-cut records can have the same sound quality as pressed vinyl, the longer the song, let say 5 minutes or more, the lower the volume it has to be recorded. Every lathe cut will sound the same from the first to the last copy. I have 50 years experience is the key to making a quality disc every time.
You can order lathe-cut vinyl without minimum?
In 1970, releasing vinyl records was only feasible. The expense associated with pressing records made it impossible for record pressing plants to offer vinyl pressing without minimums. There was no minimum order for lathe-cut records due to the low cost.
No need for outsourcing, as everything is done in-house. This also allows independent recording artists to have the vinyl release. You can order (1) or (25),and have your music on vinyl in the right quantity at a great price. Lathe cuts are done with out heat lamps or oils.
Embossed records sound good as pressed vinyl records with no hiss clicks or pops.
Embossed lathe cuts have been recorded on polycarbonate sheets of plastic for many years since the 1980's, they have earned a bad reputation since then, because they were always embossed with a tungsten carbide steel stylus.
Many have tried over the years different techniques to improve embossing, by using a heat lamp, Turtle wax, furniture polish, motor oil, DW40. I don't use any of that, I emboss dry, and at room temperature and it works great.
Lighter fluid should only be use for cleaning the disc before embossing, the peel-off protective film leaves an invisible residue which causes scoring with the Westrex stereo cutter head's advance ball, if you use any other cutter head, no need to clean the polycarbonate.
A lathe cut, If recorded at a louder volume will cause the record to skip randomly, the same goes for stereo recorded embossed records, they will skip randomly. The average level of a microgroove LP's recorded at 33 rpm is 7cm lateral cut, is the same level I use.
Many have asked me, is there's a difference in the sound quality between black polycarbonate and clear? the answer is no, the sound is the same.
Anti-skating should be adjusted for best results. If your playback stylus is 3 grams, the the anti-skate adjustment should be 3 grams also.