What makes a photo button maker different? Do I really need the photo button kit to make photo buttons? If you plan to use actual photo paper to make your buttons the answer is yes, you need a photo button making kit and here's why.
Button makers are very finely calibrated to use a certain thickness of materials to get a good, cleanly crimped button. When you change that thickness by too much, or too little, the button can fail. Photo paper is significantly thicker than standard 24 pound copier paper, which is what most machines are calibrated for. You can read all about the perfect paper for your buttons in our article 3 Steps for Picking the Right Paper for Button Making.
With a 3" or 3.5" photo button maker, the upper die in the machine offers slightly more clearance to accommodate thicker paper. If you will be using photo paper, be sure the machine you purchase is labeled as photo for best results. All 3" and 3.5" machines from ABM are calibrated for use with photo or regular paper so you can be sure you are ready for whatever comes your way!
Our rectangular machines are also available in both a photo or paper version and the lower dies are different between the 2. Just like the 3" and 3.5" round machines, the photo machine can also use standard paper but whereas the round photo machines use the same button supplies regardless of whether it is a photo machine or not, when you purchase new supplies for your rectangular machine you will need to be sure you purchase the right type for the machine you have. If you have a photo machine, you need the supplies labeled as photo regardless of what kind of paper you plan to use. The photo version also requires a slightly larger graphic size so the punch cutters are specifically for use with either the photo machine or standard paper machine, depending on the model purchased. To make it super easy for you to ensure you have the right machine, punch and buttons, ABM puts them all together in a convenient kit that even includes free button making software and free UPS ground shipping!
If you plan on making the very popular 2.25" buttons, the machine is the same regardless of whether you will be using photo paper or standard paper. The difference comes in the punch cutter and size graphic you need. When you purchase the photo button making kit, the punch cutter that comes in the kit cuts a circle that is slightly smaller than the standard 2.625" circle that the regular punch cutter makes. The photo punch cuts a circle that is 2.225" so there is less paper to wrap around the edge of the button which means there is less bulk to be tucked in so the machine can crimp properly. You can still make plain paper buttons with a photo button making kit but you can't make a photo paper button with a standard kit. It will not crimp together tightly so it may fall apart.
The bottom line is if you are going to want to use photo paper, no matter what the size, you should get a photo button making kit. You can still use regular paper with any of the photo kits but you can't use photo paper with a standard kit. You can learn all about photo buttons and more in The Pinback Button Community. We hope to see you there but until then, happy button making!
By Brighid Brown, Director of Blogging and All Things Cool at ABM
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