A button maker is a term used to describe both a machine used to create buttons and a computer software application. There are two primary categories of physical buttons: clothing and temporary buttons. Clothing buttons are attached to materials or outfits by sewing with thread and are used to hold different pieces of material together or as a decorative accessory. Temporary buttons are self contained units that have a pin in the back. They are attached to display a message or image and can be removed. Computer software buttons are built into graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for programs users.
The physical button maker machine is a combination of a metal press and hole punch. For clothing buttons, the machine is typically found in a large production factory. The actual button is designed by a fashion designer, complete with the material, location of the holes, size, and any design elements. Typically, modern buttons are created from high viscosity plastic, but they can also be made from bone, wood, or cloth.
The details of the button design are programmed into the machine press. If the button is made with plastic, a machine is used to heat up the plastic and then pour it into prepared molds. Once cooled, the buttons are put into a machine press, which creates the holes. A polishing unit sands off the rough edges and gives it a high sheen.
Buttons made from wood or bone have a different process. The source material is entered into a machine, which creates as many buttons as possible, reducing the material waste. Additional steps are used to create the holes, make the design changes, and sand the button. A varnish bath is used to add a high gloss finish and to protect the button from damage.
Temporary buttons are made with a hand-operated button press and are a popular hobby. The button maker creates a graphic or image inside a button template on a piece of paper. The image is placed inside a plastic button case, and a metal backing is added. The metal backing includes holes for a safety pin to be inserted. The entire item is placed into the button press and the user applies force to join the materials together.
Computer software buttons are typically lines of computer code. An image file or graphic can be used as a button. When the user clicks on the button with the computer mouse, the programming in the background determines what action occurs once the button is pressed. There are a wide range of button maker websites that sell pre-programmed buttons for commonly used functions.