While browsing for interesting upcoming programs on my TiVo recently I noticed a 2006 episode of the Discovery Channel's "How It's Made" program that featured a segment on vinyl records. Not having seen it originally and not being all that familiar with how records are made, I recorded it, only to be disappointed to find out that a different episode of the program aired instead.
Now I was curious. Not being easily deterred, I decided to see if I could find it online, where I indeed was able to find the video (actually two short segments). Part 1 (4:38 min), below, describes the cutting of the master disc, starting with an aluminum disc core, through the lacquering process and then the actual cutting of the master disc:
Part 2 (4:38 min), below, shows the rest of the process, from the creation of the metal stamper from the lacquer disc (it gets silvered and then electroplated with nickel) to the creation of PVC "biscuits" and the actual pressing and trimming of the final record product:
Pretty interesting stuff - I listened to vinyl for over 20 years and never really appreciated all that it took to create a record. My takeaway from all this is a reminder of just how complex and unwieldy the traditional analog vinyl reproduction process is/was, and why digital technology - not just CD - offers so much greater technical potential.