Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Visiting Bedell-Kraus

Last week, I was in Cleveland working on the Inky convention booth. We're getting some new furnishings (it's pretty exciting...I can't wait to show you next month!), so I had to revise the layout and make sure everything will fit.

While I was there, I had the chance to visit Bedell-Kraus and see the rubber manufacturing process. Even though I've been in the stamp industry for 13 years, I have never known how the rolls of rubber that we use at the shop get made in the first place.

It all starts with the ingredients, enough shown here to make four batches:

See those pale yellow blocks on the right side of the above photo? Those are hunks of synthetic rubber. The brown blocks underneath are hunks of natural rubber. And those flat little squares standing up in the bags of white powder in the center of the photo...that's enough dye to color the entire pallet!

I didn't get to peek at the mixing vat (or whatever they use to mash up all the ingredients). But after that is done, the slabs of rubber are generously powdered:

This rubber happens to be black instead of the usual pink or red you're probably used to seeing on art stamps, but otherwise it looks like this after it's dusted up:

The slabs are then moved to the next area:

And they get fed into a pair of giant rollers, about 350 pounds at a time:

It's like a ginormous pasta machine! The rubber gets rolled around for several minutes, and the friction of the rollers heats it up:

The consistency changes and it starts to look like bubble gum:

Then it gets fed into another rolling machine:

This machine squashes it to the correct thickness and winds it up with a plastic liner, which is how it comes out on the opposite side:

The finished rolls are moved to the cutting area:

Once they're divided into 50-pound rolls, they are boxed up and put into the cooler:

And that's how they look until they get to our shop, where we turn 'em into stamps. Thanks to Steve Bedell for being a gracious host and allowing me to share the process with you!


RustyBird said...

Thanks for sharing! It's always interesting to see the behind-the-scenes workings, and get answers to those deep-thought questions like "I wonder how to they make that stuff"?

Chelsea said...

WOW ... that is really neat ... thanks for sharing!

Diane O. said...

Thanks for the virtual tour.

tammy deYoung said...

wow! cool! this is like "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood!" I loved when he would take you to see how things are made, like crayons!!! THanks!

Debbie Fisher (debbiedee) said...

Thanks for sharing! This was cool to watch via computer!

Jovita said...

Thanks for sharing, it was really neat to see.

I would like to see the process of what happens to the rubber when they arrive at Inky Antics :)

Debbie K. said...

Wow, what a fun tour this must have been! Thanks for sharing. Happy Holidays to you and yours, Jackie!
- Debbie Kaste

Eve said...

wow this is very interesting! After the introduction of Clear stamp, i still LUV RED RUBBER, and now i got to know how they make it!! Thanks for sharing this & pics. :-)

Jackie Wamhoff said...

So glad you liked the virtual tour, ladies. Thank you for your kind comments. Good idea on the Inky factory tour, Jovi...I'll have to work that in this spring when I'm at the shop. :-)

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