College - Author 1
College of Engineering
Department - Author 1
Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department
Degree Name - Author 1
BS in Manufacturing Engineering
Jill Speece, College of Engineering, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department
RecorDIY is an affordable alternative to ordering Vinyl Records from a manufacturer in the form of an at-home record-cutting lathe. This report will cover the record cutting process from audio to physical, at home record lathes that are currently available, and the possible improvements that I plan to implement in order to make these devices a more viable alternative for small artists. Current models can only create low fidelity records, specifically they struggle with lots of “noise”, extra sounds such as static that make it harder to hear the actual audio. Another issue is record size, as current models can only fit about only fit about 4 minutes of music per side on a 5-inch disc. The last issue is price, currently in order to acquire a lathe that can cut records even close to the quality you would expect from a record that is viable to be sold to consumers can cost upwards of $30,000. When considering the possible solutions for these issues there are 2 main components that will serve to best rectify these issues. The design of the lathe cutting head, and the material used for the vinyl records. The Lathe cutting head can be made in either a “monophonic” or a “stereophonic” configuration, the monophonic configuration is a much more straightforward method of engraving the record, which can lead to a superior fidelity as a result, however this method sacrifices some of the dynamics of a track as it removes the “panning” of a song. The Stereo Configuration is a much more complex head, which requires a much more precise construction as well as execution, which often means that lots more tweaking is necessary in order to ensure a quality cut, in exchange for this extra effort and precision, the artist is rewarded with a much more dynamic and full sound. The records themselves can be made from either polyvinyl or polycarbonate. Polyvinyl is the typical medium for batch-pressed records as it is a much softer and malleable material, but it is also a viable option for lathe cutting as well. Due to its malleability polyvinyl must be cut much more precisely to avoid adding excess “noise” to the recordings, but it is also capable of achieving a higher fidelity through these means. Polyvinyl is also more expensive than its polycarbonate counterpart as it is in high demand due to its use in vinyl pressing. Polycarbonate is the cheaper alternative to polyvinyl, a slightly tougher material, but typically the material of choice for lathe cut records, under the right circumstances can achieve a comparable fidelity to its polyvinyl counterpart, however it is not quite the same. To make the device as user-friendly as possible, as well as reduce costs, my research indicates that the best solutions moving forward will be to use polycarbonate discs up to 10 inches in diameter [roughly 9-12minutes per side], in combination with a monophonic head for ease of use and more consistent high-fidelity sound.