A closer look at Badge a Minits Handpress button maker

Taking a closer look at Badge-A-Minit's hand press button-making system

The reason most people purchase Badge-A-Minit's hand press button-making system is that the advertised priced is only $29.95.

But what most people don't realize is that they are only going to receive enough supplies to make 10 pinback buttons.

And that a circle cutter for cutting the designs they will use to make their buttons 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 experienced users 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 our Model 225 button machine that can produce buttons at a rate of up to 5 buttons in a single a minute.

One reason the Badge-A-Minit hand press is so 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 will ever make.

Badge-A-Minit's web site says the Badge-A-Minit hand press system includes "easy to follow instructions".

Read the following bulletin, taken verbatim from Badge-a-Minit's own newsletter, Button Talk, and 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".


The Red Ring Holds the Key!

"In following the steps on how to make a button, consider this; you have already placed your artwork into the blue ring with the gold ring secured under the tabs on the blue ring, and have snapped it into place with both the beige disc and gray ring using even pressure.

The next step involves the red ring - insert the gold ring and again push straight down, pushing it down into the gold ring. Leaving the red ring where it is, you then flip it over and insert the button back, lining up the pin with lines in the blue ring. You then place the green ring in after the button back, which creates a colorful "sandwich" of assembly rings.

This is where many of you have trouble. When you take this "sandwich" to the hand press to crimp everything together, remember this hint: make sure your red ring is on top! The red ring has an indented circle on it that is the same size as the metal tooth that comes out of the hand press. The indent is an indicator to you of where to line up the assembled sandwich on the press so that your buttons will turn out beautifully after you've squeezed the press firmly (with the sandwich inside)!

Some put the assembled "sandwich" in upside down with green ring on top and this is wrong because the pressure is not applied properly. Likewise, if the red ring is on top but not centered in the indent, you can seriously damage it by crimping in the wrong place. So the key is, to keep the red ring on top and line up the indent with the press before crimping and your buttons will come out looking sleek and professional!


Physical strength is needed 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.

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 do have strong hands, they will likely be sore if you need to make very many buttons.

What takes place when making a button

Consider for a moment what actually takes place when making a button.

Quite simply, you are 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 need to be pulled taut over the face of the button and the excess tucked up underneath the button, in much the same way making a bed tucks the excess portion of the sheets and blankets under the mattress.

The button back is pressed into the front, and the edge of the button crimped to hold it all together.

Plastic assembly rings are not nearly as efficient at transferring mechanical energy into the button parts as are the built in steel dies found on all our button machines.

And quite simply, that is why carpenters use that are hammers made of steel, not plastic or aluminum!

The Badge-A-Minit hand press uses assembly rings that are made of plastic, which causes many of the quality issues described below.

Quality of the buttons the Badge-A-Minit hand press produces

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 button makers standpoint, each rejected button causes 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 that is needed 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 about 29 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 designs you will need or your time.

Other quality issues common to buttons made with a Badge-A-Minit hand press are they sometimes have paper or plastic sticking out the sides, 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 Badge a Minit hand press does not make professional quality buttons you would be happy to sell or give away. Our Model 225 button maker machine uses all steel dies that are the same dies we use on our big turn table presses to produce thousands of buttons a day, leaving you with a top notch quality made button. 

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 will work quite well.

However, because the same part of the blade is used for each and every cut, the blade dulls quickly and will 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 $6.95. If you plan on making lots of buttons, you will need 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 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 will 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.

Dr. Don's offers FREE lifetime warranties on all of its button makers. Unlike other companies we do not sell an additional warranty, it comes FREE.  

Return policy

Badge-A-Minit offers a 30-day return policy with their hand press.

However, you are required to pay the postage to return the machine, and a 10% re-stocking fee if you decide to return the machine.

Pro's and Con's with the Badge-A-Minit hand press

Pros of the Badge-A-Minit hand press

  • Least expensive button-making machine available

Cons of the Badge-A-Minit hand press

  • Slow and difficult to operate
  • Made of a plastic-like compound
  • Will produce a high number of reject buttons
  • Doesn't create "professional-quality" buttons
  • Doesn't work well with photo-weight paper
  • Operating the machine is hard on your hands
  • Manual Cut-A-Circle circle cutter isn't fully adjustable, and it's blades must be replaced on a regular basis.