Monday, February 17, 2020

Fire at vinyl record plant in California

One morning last week just after 8 a.m., as Sarabjeet Ubbu was starting the day behind the counter of his 7 Star Food Store in Banning, Calif., he noticed black smoke billowing from the roof of the building across the street. 
The unassuming beige facility houses Apollo Masters. Owners of a manufacturing plant and a closely held formula for making and mounting a specific mix of lacquer onto aluminum discs, the company supplies a reported 75% of the world’s blank lacquers, the shiny circular plates essential for the production of vinyl records. 
Until last week, only the most devoted audiophiles appreciated Apollo’s place in the vinyl supply chain. Unlike uploading a newly recorded project to a streaming service such as Spotify, manufacturing records relies on techniques, processes and machines honed over the decades. 
...The whole thing is best understood via a mess of metaphors. In filmmaking terms, a blank lacquer is the original negative. It’s the fresh cement into which you carve your initials. Made with what Horowitz describes as “the purest of absolutely flat aluminum, ultrasonically cleaned and prepared,” the disc is then coated, like icing onto a doughnut, with a micro-thin layer of lacquer made with Apollo’s secret formula. After undergoing a six-week drying and curing process, followed by another six weeks repeating the steps for side B, each blank disc comes out as smooth as a mirror. A box of 25 costs about $900.... 
...The block housing Apollo is still closed to traffic. The cause of the fire remains under investigation, according to Fernando Herrera, Banning Fire Dept. public information officer. Herrera says that Banning officials have told Apollo that it won’t be permitted to rebuild until the property has undergone hazardous waste remediation. Given the chemicals used to produce the lacquer, it’s not clear whether current California environmental laws would even permit the company to rebuild....
Definitely bad news for vinyl record lovers. I took a brief glance at Google Patents and it appears that they didn't reveal any of their techniques there. I also checked to see if they were a Large Quantity Generator for EPA, and they don't appear to be. I'd love to know what chemicals they use.... 

No comments:

Post a Comment

looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20