Syndicated Blog from The Button Guy
- What kind of printer do I need to start a custom button making business?
- What paper is best for making custom buttons?
- What is the cost of printing custom button?
- How can I lower the cost of making buttons
Original question: In your experience with button making what type of printer and ink would you use for a business level quality graphics? I know that over time ink can sun bleach and paper can break down, so for a good quality product for my customers any ideas? I have not started my button side of my business yet but looking to soon. Love your site btw and thank you for your time. Have a great day.
Paper choices for Button Makers and Button Making.
Button makers are mostly designed for standard 20lb (75gsm) to 32 lb (120 gsm)paper. There are some special photo button machines designed for thicker photo paper but in the digital age photo paper is a bit obsolete so the special machines are quite rare and not really necessary. I think the key to good buttons is that you choose a super white paper, the look and the way it prints being more important than the weight. That way when you print black (or any other color) on white you have the maximum contrast. I have also found that papers with a gloss finish print well.
When purchasing paper I have always found better prices and quality from commercial print shop suppliers rather than retailers like Staples. A standard pure white glossy commercial printer paper will do it. No problem.
Printer choices for Button Makers and Button Making.
Your choice is basically Ink Jet or Laser. Inkjet will give you better quality for photos and artwork especially if you get a high end Epson but you will pay dearly for the ink. Inkjet or bubble jet have higher resolution than laser. Laser printers are not as good quality but are generally reasonable quality and are much cheaper per page. I have tried many but I have not found a good quality entry level laser printer (Up to $800) that can compete with the big machines installed in copy shops. A good copy shop can give you really high quality results but don’t just go in and accept what you’re given. All print jobs need a little tweaking. Colours can be enhanced, saturation improved. Find a printer that cares and then give them lots of business. Remember the quality of the printing can make or break your custom button business. Once you’ve established your business it becomes time to consider the big expensive photocopier on a 5 year lease with a click charge per 18″ x 12″ print.
If you decide to print from your home or office with a $300 printer that can work too. Make sure you’re maximizing the page and remember you do not have to print right up to the cut-line. Save ink and take out any unnecessary color on your artwork that does not show – the buttons are not affected. See the example below. These are 1” buttons and 42 buttons fit on each letter size page. The cut size for 1” buttons is 1.313” but we cut the color short – the white does not show on the button.
Also speaking of saving ink, I personally have had no luck with refilling my ink cartridges. The colors coming out of my printers have always suffered. I am not supporting Canon, Xerox and the rest for overcharging for their cartridges and I have saved money by refilling cartridges locally but quality always declined. If color is not crucial it’s a good way to go.
Some companies, like Xerox have solid ink printers. These printers are not ideal for button making if you are making custom buttons for clients because the colors are way off and that can be a problem. Solid ink printers may be good (or not so bad) for the environment but people are often fussy about their corporate logos and business colors and that can lead to problems if your printer cannot match colors on the monitor.
Issues with bleaching and paper deterioration.
I have never found bleaching or paper deterioration to be a problem. I have a few buttons that are maybe 20 years old. Yes the paper changes color but that even adds to the effect for an old button. You could try using acid free paper but I don’t think it’s necessary, buttons are pretty durable. I had a store with a south facing window that got direct sunlight all day. I filled the window with a mosaic of buttons and yes after a year buttons began to fade and after 18 months it was necessary to change them, but that is exceptional exposure for a simple button.
Cost of button printing.
The cost of printing buttons varies tremendously. I calculated that some photo buttons using a cheap Canon printer ($400) with a 4 colour cartridge system ($440 for 4) were costing $1.30 for a full sheet. Ouch! But that was the luxury of doing it at home and not going to a printer and that meant printing costs of 3 cents for a 1” button (42 up) and 8 cents for a 2-1/4” button (9 up). These days I have an 18” x 12” Xerox @ 8 cents a sheet. That means the 2-1/4” button print costs 8 cents per 18 buttons as opposed to 8 cents each. The difference in the cost of printing buttons can be huge! But if you’re selling a custom button service print quality is key.
Which button maker, badge machine or pin maker would you recommend for a young artist. January 12 2013
Hi Button Guy, I’m a young artist and lately I have had customers asking for customized buttons. I really like the idea but I’m not totally sure on where to begin, I don’t have that much money to spend on a machine and supplies at the moment. Out of the machines you have tried, which would recommend for a first timer on a budget? Also, what companies do you recommend getting the supplies from? Julieann – Indiana
I work closely with Button Giant: http://ButtonGiant.com
They do have a good starter machine. http://buttongiant.com/collections/frontpage/products/2-1-4-t15o-button-maker-hobby-kit-circle-cutter-250-button-parts-and-free-sample-pack I have tested this kit. It’s cheap, works well, But read on!!
As a designer or as an artist, buttons are a great way for getting income, promoting your projects and creating a following. Whilst your designs and style will change and develop over the years, you will be able to use buttons at gallery openings, for website promotion, even as a calling cards or business cards. The low cost of buttons means if somebody picks up one of your creations and pays $2, $1.90 is your cost excluding labor. Sometimes it’s better to ask for a donation, then you’ll get $5 or even $25. Few products offer that kind of margin. But the most important thing? – People just like buttons.
I would actually recommend not getting the above starter kit unless you are in a real hurry. I would wait, save your cash and get an all metal button maker that takes low cost, standard button parts. The starter kit mentioned above will make buttons for a few years but an all metal machine will make buttons for a lifetime – your kids could use it!!
Avoid Button Makers with plastic parts, avoid button makers made in China (expensive parts often with ugly plastic backs), avoid Badge a Minit (expensive parts, starter kits often fail), avoid interchangeable dies (impractical & expensive parts)
Here’s a link to a solid all metal button maker on Button Giant: http://buttongiant.com/collections/button-makers-and-diy-button-making-kits/products/1-1-4-button-maker-kit-with-graphic-punch-500-button-parts-includes-free-sample-pack
Here’s a link to an article about button making equipment: Checkout my button maker guide!
Hope it helps!
The Button Guy
Buy a kid a button and he’s happy for a day. Give a Kid A Button Maker and you’ve got happiness for a lifetime! December 08 2012
Have you considered giving a button maker as a gift this year? Christmas, graduation, birthday, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or whatever the occasion, a button making kit will be the gift that inspires!
Button makers are ideal gifts for kids, teens and young adults because, unlike most fads and toys, they will last for years and keep their appeal through the ages and stages of your child’s development. The button designs may change, the button machine just keeps on pressing buttons.
Children are fascinated by the idea of designing their own buttons. What better than a creative gift? Their first button making experience was often at a children’s party or school event but that’s not the same as owning your own button press. Once they see their artwork transformed into a wearable pin or stickable magnet, they’re hooked and can’t get enough. Making buttons encourages young children to be creative and to hone their design and aesthetic senses.
Older children love the idea of being able to wear a message they have designed. It gives them a way to tell the world who they are and what they like. As teens move through the school and university system, button makers move with them. Having the ability to produce ‘campaign’ materials for a variety of projects is a bonus during those stages when being included is so important. Button makers become part of social events that encourage teamwork, creativity and collaboration.
To top it all off, button makers are not expensive relative to their value: a good quality, solid metal machine and circle cutter costs less than $500 and comes with a starter kit with usually more than 500 buttons. After that, button parts are relatively cheap (less than 10 cents a button) and you never need to buy batteries! If given a minimum of care, the machines will last for years and produce thousands of buttons.
There are cheaper options, I have seen kits for $189 like this one on Button Giant: $189 button maker kit This kit works well but this is a hobby kit, if you can stretch to $300 you can get a metal machine that will work in elementary school and then still keep on pressing when your kids in University. $500 gets you the full enchilada.
There are few toys that match button makers for sturdy construction, ease of use, educational and social value, and affordability. Think about getting your kids into button making this year! A memorable Christmas gift, graduation gift, birthday present or holiday surprise. Whether for Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, a Bar or Bat
Mitzvah, Christmas or New Year, a button maker is the perfect creative gift.
I am an artist that attends various anime conventions throughout the year – What kind of button maker do I need? December 08 2012
Hi Button Guy
I am an artist that attends various anime conventions throughout the year. I had made a post about purchasing a button maker, in Deviantart’s forum, and you answered it, which I recently responded to. I figured that you may not get on DA frequently so I decided to try and catch you this way. Seeing as I’m going to get a machine within this month.
What I wanted to know is if the T150 model’s 2-1/4 die could be switched out with a 1-1/4 die? The 2-1/4 size is great for the mirrors I’m seriously considering adding to my table but not as buttons. Most of the buyers I’ve had at conventions prefer 1 to 1.5 size buttons. So if the T150 can swap out then I’ll have a 2-n-1 machine, which is exactly what I need. Nat
The above picture shows the T150 Hobby Kit for Button Making. It’s good value! But it is a hobby kit. Not a pro button maker. Unfortunately the T150 Button Making Kits do not have any options. I have only seen dies for 2-1/4” buttons.
As an anime artist going to conventions I would recommend an all metal button maker anyway. And yes, 1”, 1-1/4” & 1-1/2” buttons are the most popular sizes for anime.
The higher price is a barrier, but in the long term the metal button maker will last years. I have a number of button makers at least 8 years old. The paint has scratched off, they have been extremely well used and they still make a button perfectly every time with little to no maintenance.
For anime conventions a button maker is a great addition to your product range, find a way to get a solid all metal machine and you won’t look back!
Cheers, The Button Guy
The above is a solid all metal button maker available from Button Giant or People Power Press. This is a pro machine suitable for anime conventions, comicon and serious uses. Look at the solid steel dies on this below: These machines just keep on going, they are precise, well made and worth the extra few bucks.
The perfect button maker, badge press, button machine, pin press or button making kit for anime conventions, fanexpo, comic-con, comicon or wherever you as an amime artist sells your art.