The reason most people purchase the Badge-A-Minit hand press is that the advertised priced is only $29.95.
But what many of those people probably don't realize is that for their money they are only going to receive 10 pinback button sets. And a circle cutter for cutting their designs is not included.
Add 250 pinback button sets and a circle cutter, and the price of a Badge-A-Minit hand press would increase dramatically ... to over $160.00
Operating the Badge-A-Minit hand press
Of all the button machines compared, the Badge-A-Minit hand press is the slowest and most difficult to operate.
Even an experienced user will only be able to produce one button/badge a minute with a Badge-A-Minit hand press (hence their name... Badge-A-Minit).
Compare that to the Model 225's rate of up to 5 buttons in a single a minute.
One of the reasons the BAM hand press is that slow is that you must work with six different plastic assembly rings to create each button. Each ring must be positioned and manipulated in the proper manner and proper sequence for each and every button you make.
Badge-A-Minit's web site says the BAM hand press system includes "easy to follow instructions".
After reading the following bulletin, taken verbatim from Badge-a-Minit's own newsletter, Button Talk (Button Talk, Fall 1998), let's see if you agree.
That article, entitled "The Red Ring Holds the Key!", starts out by saying that making buttons with a Badge-A- Minit hand press is "truly a simple process".
Physical strength necessary to operate the Badge-A-Minit hand press
Of all the machines compared, the Badge-A-Minit hand press requires the greatest amount of hand strength to make buttons.
The Badge-A-Minit hand press is operated by squeezing the machine's handles together, so if you have weak hands or any sort of arthritic condition, this definitely is not the machine for you. And even if you have strong hands, they will likely be sore if you make very many buttons with this machine.
What takes place when making a button
Consider for a moment what actually takes place when making a button.
Quite simply, you will be transferring mechanical energy from your arm (or the button machine's motor, in the case of an electric machine) into the dies / assembly rings. The button design and plastic covering are pulled taut over the face of the button and the excess is tucked up underneath the button, in much the same way making a bed tucks the excess portion of the sheets and blankets up under the mattress.
The button back is pressed into the front, and the edge of the button is crimped to hold it all together.
Plastic assembly rings are not nearly as efficient at transferring mechanical energy into the button parts as is steel. (And quite simply, this is why carpenters use hammers made of steel, not plastic or aluminum!)
And the Badge-A-Minit hand press uses assembly rings that are made of plastic, which is what causes many of the quality issues described below.
Quality of the buttons the Badge-A-Minit hand press will produce
The most common complaint heard about the Badge-A-Minit hand press is the number of rejects (bad buttons) they make.
No matter how careful you are, the percentage of rejected buttons it will produce, is, by anyone's standards, unacceptably high.
From a user's standpoint, each rejected button can cause three problems.
1. You may not be able to re-use the design from the rejected button, so you may be forced to print/buy more designs and then cut those designs to size.
2. The extra time you will need to make additional buttons for each rejected button.
3. With each rejected button, you are quite literally throwing money down the drain.
That's because the mylar disc (often referred to as the plastic) and metal front of the button cannot be re-used, since they are damaged in the first stage of the button-making process.
Each rejected button will cost you 25 cents (if you use Badge-A-Minit parts purchased in a quantity of 250) and that price doesn't take into account the cost of the additional printed/purchased designs you may need.
Other quality issues that are common to buttons made with a BAM hand press is they will sometimes have paper or plastic sticking out the side, they often have edges that are rough and somewhat serrated, and the edges often have "points", caused when the design doesn't fold tightly over the edge of the button.
The photo below shows a button that was made with a BAM hand press on the left, and a button made with the Model 225 on the right.
The red lines in the photo direct you to the "points" on the edge of the Badge-A-Minit button.
Notice, if you will, the smooth edge of the button that was made with the Model 225.
Professional-quality buttons will have smooth, tightly crimped edges and will not fall apart after being made. They also won't have paper or plastic sticking out the sides. So buttons made with the Badge-A-Minit hand press are not well-suited for re-sale.
Badge-A-Minit's Cut-A-Circle circle cutter
Since cutting artwork is an integral part of making buttons, discussing the cutter that is included with this system is important for a complete understanding of the button-making process.
Badge-A-Minit's Cut-A-Circle is an all plastic circle cutter that has a straight-edge cutting blade. When the blade is sharp, the cutter works quite well.
However, because the same part of the blade is used for each and every cut, the blade will dull quickly and need to be replaced on a regular basis.
And the cutting blade on Badge-A-Minit's Cut-A-Circle is not re-sharpenable.
Replacement blades are sold in packs of two for $5.95. If you plan to make lots of buttons, you want to be sure and keep extra blades on hand at all times.
Making photo buttons with the Badge-A-Minit hand press
One of the short comings of the Badge-A-Minit hand press is its inability to make professional-quality photo buttons, using photographic prints such as those you would get from a photo lab.
To make a photo button, users of the Badge-A-Minit hand press are instructed to change the setting on their circle cutter to its second setting, and cut the photograph so it fits on the "face" of the button.
By taking this step, the Badge-A-Minit hand press doesn't wrap the photograph over the edge and up under the button, as it would with buttons made using lighter paper.
The drawback to this procedure, however, is that the photographic image then stops on top of the button and allows the metal edge of the button to show.
And unless the image is trapped dead center on the face of the button, your photograph will sit off-center.
The Badge-A-Minit hand press is made of...
The Badge-A-Minit hand press is made of a plastic-like compound, and it's six assembly rings are made of light-weight plastic. Plastic is cheap and easy to produce but it is not a material that stands up well to the rigors of button-making.
Plastic will stretch, warp, crack and break with repeated use.
Badge-A-Minit stands behind their hand press with a lifetime replacement warranty. But if you should break the press or one of the plastic rings, you must return the broken part before you can get a free replacement. This could easily take a week or more.
If you break the press or one of the parts in the middle of a job, you will not be able to continue until you have replaced that broken part.
You do have the option of purchasing an extra set of plastic rings to keep on hand, but that would add an additional $29.95 to the price shown above.
Badge-A-Minit offers a 30-day return policy with their hand press.
However, you will be required to pay the postage to return the machine, and a 10% re-stocking fee if you decide to return the machine.