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Button Maker Kit Comparison

American vs Chinese Button Maker Comparison | Part Two Manufacturing and Usability Analysis The first article in our American Button Machines vs China button making kit series provided an overview of the many reasons why you should focus on the Red, White, and Blue when purchasing a button machine. Among the reasons we discussed were:
  • Supporting the “home team” is always a good thing;
  • 3-in-1 button machines (also referred to as all-in-one) made in China are significantly more expensive to use;
  • Chinese-made button making kits do not provide the option of making photo or fabric buttons;
  • The plastic paper cutter includes with Chinese all-in-one button maker sets is far lower in the quality that the professional cutters included in our button making systems.

Two of the reasons that we touched on, but did not go into at length, are perhaps the most important ones in terms of why button maker kits made in the USA are superior to those made in China: manufacturing quality and usability.

Simply put, there is no comparison. Our American button making kits that are made in the USA are manufactured with higher quality parts and are both easier and more efficient to use than the Chinese competition. Nothing more perfectly illustrates the differences than these two videos. First, here is a video that illustrates the complexity of using a Chinese 3-in-1 button machine. Notice about 2 min 40 seconds into the video how long it takes to set the photo and plastic mylar in the die properly. Then notice how much force is needed to press the button. The back of the button machine raises off of the table! Not a very friendly design.

Now take a look at this video, which shows how efficient our button makers are to use: American Button Machines - Made in the USA

Usability and Design Let's break down some of the usability and design differences between our button maker and a Chinese-made product.

Below the images you will find a detailed descriptions of the differences.

American Button Machines' Button Maker

Chinese Button Maker Machine:

With our button machines, the button supplies are loaded directly in front of the operator so they do not have to make time consuming moves to the left and the right to load parts while also moving the dies back and forth (as shown in the Chinese video above), which slows down production. Our design incorporates two dies that swivel on a center axis providing speed and accuracy at such levels that our button machines are able to produce a button in as little as five seconds.

To make a button you load the button supplies into the two lower dies. The “dies” are the three chrome-plated items you see on the button machine. To make a button, each lower die is independently moved under the upper die so when the handle is pulled the button parts are all pressed together.

The design of our button maker kits incorporates two hardened steel nickel plated dies that swivel on a center axis. The Chinese machine has two dies that must be moved from the left to the right to load the button supplies. Then the dies must be moved back to the left again during the button making process to remove the complete button and load new parts again.        

Now look at how the two dies are attached: Our dies are mounted on a base of industrial grade steel. China’s dies, on the other hands, are simply sitting on what looks and feels like very light aluminum. So China has two heavy dies and lets gravity naturally hold them in place in a piece of soft metal?

See the close up in the picture above for further illustration. There is a very small hole where the die must sit to be aligned correctly in the vertical position with the upper die. The dies are already wearing the aluminum plate down and making the round hole an oblong hole. These holes are all that keep the dies aligned and China has chosen to mount them in soft metal, which we simply cannot endorse as anything close to a best practice for button machine manufacturing. How long do you think that will last?

Their plate has two screws threaded into each end of the plate. This is what actually stops the dies when you are moving them from left to right. The problem with this design is the screws do not provide a precision stopping point below the upper die. You simply keep sliding the dies in one direction until the screw stops the forward momentum. Since the plate is not greased, you have to push harder to move the dies from left to right, eventually stopping when they come in contact with the screw protruding through the plate. The problem with this it that eventually the abuse that the screws have to withstand will wear out the threads in the aluminum and the machine is broken.


Our two lower dies are securely fastened to the rotating plate so they do not move. This makes certain that our dies are aligned properly with the upper die each and every time, thus enhancing the overall usability of our button maker kits    

Manufacturing Quality

Let’s now go into a little more details regarding the manufacturing differences between our American button maker kits that are made in the USA and the Chinese-made 3-in-1 button maker kits.

If you look at the picture above, it looks like the Chinese machine is made entirely of steel. However this is not true. The Chinese machine has an internal metal “frame” that has a plastic covering applied over it and is then painted. This begs the question, in our mind, why would you cover metal with a thick plastic? There are a few potential reasons that we can surmise:

  • To cover rust during the import process.
  • To make it look like the entire machine is larger and made entirely of metal.
  • To cut corners and save money, which has long been a criticism of Chinese-made products in general. (Of course, as we noted in our previous button maker kit comparison article, despite the lower quality of the Chinese-made button machines, they are still more expensive.)

If you look at the Chinese-made machine it has a long handle and is very tall. The bottom plate that the machine is attached to is made of some sort of plastic that, because it is not made of metal, can easily break. The base plate is used to stabilize the top-heavy machine. However, when the handle is pulled down during the button making process, the back of the machine can rise up off the table quite easily, which could result in the machine tipping over.

Think about the ergonomics of such a design: if you have a large button order and are sitting down to make the buttons, you have to raise your arm fairly high to reach the handle every time you press a button. To the contrary, our machine is not top heavy like the competition’s tower machine, so you do not have to secure our machine to a base plate. However, we do provide screw holes in the base of our machine if you wish to mount it to a portable board or secure it to a table.

If you are looking for a mounted button making system with a professional look, we also offer snazzy-looking professional mounted button maker systems.

When making a button, most of the force to press it together is transferred where the handle meets the machine. What has China designed for this integral exchange of power? Another cheap part that is not durable:

As you can see in the picture, the handle is threaded through what looks to be an aluminum metal casting, not solid metal. Casting is an inexpensive process by which liquid material is poured into a mold. It is not anywhere as strong as solid steel, and castings can break if too much force is exerted on them.

Again, this raises serious questions in our minds: Why would you make such an important part of a button machine out of a cheap manufacturing process? What if this casted part breaks? Your button machine is imported, where do you get replacement parts?

Another area where you will find that Chinese button machine manufacturers have cut corners is in the threads in the casting where the handle is attached (see arrows in picture). The casting aluminum is so soft that if you screw the handle in the wrong way you can ruin the threads. I am sure that, like most people, you have screwed something in the wrong way when trying to put a product together. For instance, when you buy a build-it-yourself desk sometimes the desk comes with specially-sized yet cheap screws that you are forced to use and that are easy to strip if you are not extremely careful. If you strip the screws, you are, well, out of luck. You then have to purchase more or be content trying to rig the desk together in a way that will most likely not be sturdy and result in a finished product that is not what you paid for.

As they say, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Well, a button machine is only as strong as the handle attachment. Chinese-made button machines make the strength of the handle attachment quite precarious, so why risk it?

In conclusion, our extensive research on this topic has found that American-made button maker kits are better than their Chinese counterparts in the following ways:

    • Less Costly
    • Greater Manufacturing Quality
    • Easier to Use
    • More Time-Efficient

Plus, echoing our conclusion to the first post on this subject, a USA-made button maker supports the “home team.” And when the home team’s product is better in virtually every possible way, why wouldn’t you want to buy American?

Make the smart choice today and choose from the absolute best button machine products on the market: Button Maker Kits from American Button MachinesSave





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