In A Thai Vinyl Noodle Factory (TPC—Thai Plastic Company)

Did you ever wonder where the vinyl used to press your records originates? Most of the vinyl pellets used by American pressing plants originates in Thailand, manufactured at a TPC plant on the outskirts of Bangkok.

We got to go there the other day. Unfortunately, the company would not allow us to video inside the plant. That said, I think you will enjoy the parts we could video as well as the meeting we had with company executives. I did my best to describe what I saw, though I didn't do so well because with no advance warning I wasn't prepared.

The "we" included AnalogPlanet editor Michael Fremer, QRP's (Quality Record Pressing) Chad Kassem, RTI's pressing guru Rick Hashimoto, Lyra Cartridge manufacturer Stig Bjorge VPI's Mat Weisfeld and our Thai host Wuti Larnroongroj.

Also in attendance was TPC's American representative Casey Gibson who has been researching and working with TPC to develop improved vinyl formulations.

The facility we visited manufactures the pellets but it doesn't appear to be where the PVC powder itself (polyvinyl Chloride) is manufactured, though perhaps it is, but in an area off-limits to us.

The tour we took that you can listen to was of an area where the powder is melted, extruded, chopped, cleaned (including removing any metallic contamination), tested and packaged for shipment to America and elsewhere.

By the way, Mr. Kassem introduces the discussion participants including a flattering one of AnalogPlanet's Michael Fremer, who chose to edit it out of the video lest it seem self-serving. Also in the corporate presentation you'll see, it refers to "SCG". That is Siam Cement Group, the original name for the company.

The headline refers to an area of the factory where they melted PVC and extruded it through a flat die to produce long strips of vinyl "noodles", produced to inspect the product's purity. And of course it refers to the Traffic song.

Anton D's picture

Not demagnetizing, reducing static electricity.

I like that guy!

Neverenough's picture

Google magnetic properties of carbon black and read on. Possible interaction with the fields around the cartridge. Would love to do an experiment with a laser pickup cartridge to see if it has the same effect. Also is the effect more pronounced with MM vs MC cartridges?

lakeallen's picture

Made the mistake of reading the comments for this article, not all was lost though because now I know what the term "Internet Troll" means. Back to the basement boys until Mom calls you for dinner.

theboogeydown's picture

So bizarre. You'd think these guys went all the way to Thailand to hear comments from basement dwellers, balls! The internet can be the great equalizers, but also allows for the shit to float to the top too, not just the cream. SAD!
Glad you guys can get paid to check out what you love and to see the world, THAT'S what it's all about.

gorkuz's picture

The mold release "controversy" hasn't been one to me in many, many, years. That new records do need to be cleaned has been obvious to all of us that care about the sound, but the reason for this has been a matter of misinterpretation and "old wives" retelling, as per the video. I observed many years ago that most forms of vinyl, given time and especially if kept in a warm place, will become oily or even sticky. Clear vinyl sheet visibly so, in addition to yellowing. And it's hardly the only plastic that does this. Surely most who may be reading this (sorry, sarcastically, to be supplying real information instead of joining in with the critical discussions of "Mr. Micropenis, et al) have had Vibrapods and Sorbothane items around in the past? So you must have noticed the sticky mess these turn into with time as they exude some sort of plasticizers added to them. Leave Vibrapods under equipment on a nice wood finish and the finish will no longer be so nice with permanent rings etched into them. You've seen what happens to the tops of stacked equipment? After some time Sorbo has to be peeled off from whatever its contacting while leaving traces as well.

Vinyl is heated to make records. As the company man mentions, if the vinyl is overheated they have to clean the molds. That's pretty indicative but as anyone testing materials knows, heat will accelerate whatever changes the testee will exhibit with aging. Under "proper" conditions this will not be as pronounced, but it should still be expected that a thin film will be formed on the records! This will be within acceptable parameters for manufacture as it's not enough to damage the stamper...but we audiophiles are a whole lot fussier and hear (some of us) pretty much every last little thing, don't we?

Ok, now extend this a bit further, even if this is a vinyl site. Guess what else we use is similarly affected, even if disappearing due to computer audio? Sure, CDR's are Polycarbonate based and not vinyl but the heat of the burn process releases something there that leaves a very slight film, too. One really ultimately-fussy fellow I know, George Henderson, who does some amazing digital reprocessing of recordings from both vinyl and digital turned me on to this. CLEAN THE NEWLY BURNED CDR, with alcohol! And yes, the result is a little bit better sounding...if your ears and system are up to hearing it. The film is so slight it is not visible and the result is not an earthshaking difference but it certainly exists and a number of us that tested this have heard it. And how hard is it to do this? Takes 30 seconds or less and costs nearly nothing. Just be careful doing this if you use green edge paint (another controversial item) before you burn. The alcohol will dissolve some of that and can then be smeared across the playing surface (which can also be cleaned off the same way so long as you do this with a radial stroke from center outwards and turn the cleaning tissue to a clean area if you observe it picking up the green).

As for the demagnetization of records and the difference in effect between clear and black ones, the responder's comment about carbon being conductive is a good one and fitting. Being conductive, it is also then subject to magnetic fields, which are inexorably linked to current flow. Carbon is used in a wide variety of RAM (Radar Absorbing) materials), and usually in fiber or fiber arranged amorphously, form. It is quite possible that demagnetization reorients the carbon molecules to amorphous or otherwise more helpful orientation. This last is speculation on my part but many materials exhibit changes in function from crystal, grain, or lattice structure, so it is not outside of possibility that this could effect the observed change. Perhaps this helps absorb RF noise that the tiny little antennas we also call coils inside the cartridges do pick up to be followed by the highest gain in an audio system which then amplifies it. I do know for certain that this affects the sound because I make a turntable mat designed to absorb this to create an RF clean area for the cartridge to work in and it quite audibly reduces a record's noise floor. A significant part of what one assumed to be surface noise disappears with the use of my Ersamats. Harry Weisfeld has heard these work and certainly noticed the difference, years ago.

Sorry to supply real and useful information. Doesn't seem to belong in this thread! :>)


gorkuz's picture a serious post brings to a screeching halt all the absolutely necessary stuff the precedes it...Sorry to be such a killjoy!