There isn’t much we can say about the two button machines (a 1″ maker and a 2.25″ one) we have on hand other than they make pretty good buttons and they’re probably the most popular pieces of tech that we have in the Innovation Space. Nursing students have used it to make buttons depicting what being a nurse means to them, the medical school’s LGBTQ alliance regularly uses them to create small pronoun pins to distribute at events (pre-pandemic), and we get a steady stream of individuals using them for personal button projects or supplements for a school project. In short, they’re a hit!

Mechanically, these machines are fairly susceptible to human error so they do usually require an in-person tutorial for an uninitiated individual to feel comfortable using them. For bigger projects, we have compiled a packet of information (written tutorials, button templates, etc.) sourced from the American Button Machines website and other pinmaking informational sites so that the students will have materials they can learn from on their own before coming to make their button. However, we have discovered that even those who reviewed the materials need assistance in actually using the button maker, otherwise they tend to mess up the placement of the components in the press or add too many and will likely jam up the machine and/or create a failed button that’s a waste of materials (usually both).

It’s pretty easy to get the hang of, though, and once a user knows how it works they won’t have any trouble being left on their own with it to create buttons. One of our favorite things about having these in the Innovation Space is that they’re an easy way to get people in the door so we can give them a brief overview of the other services (3D modeling & printing, VR, etc.) we have available to the Temple community. They help us build a connection that we otherwise might not have been able to make.