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Two years of intensive design work, through trial and error on sophisticated and expensive injection molding machinery has resulted in a nearly perfect plastic mouthpiece direct from the mold.
At the lathe, any remaining flashing is sanded off and the shank of the mouthpiece is turned to exacting specifications.
The tolerance for these steps must be within 5 thousandths of an inch.
These oversized pressure cookers use water and pressure to draw sulfur and other elements out of the raw rubber mouthpieces. This curing process is called vulcanizing and can last up to 18 hours.
It’s through this process that the mouthpieces harden up and naturally darken in appearance. It took years for jj Babbitt to perfect this critical process. If not done properly, the rubber may become too brittle or form rock-hard crystalline chips, rendering the entire batch useless.
All hard rubber and some plastic mouthpieces are meticulously sanded by hand to remove surface flashing and imperfections.
At the polishing station, each hard rubber mouthpiece is gently sanded and buffed by hand to bring out its deep, black color.
At these machines, square coasters of raw rubber are heated and pressed into custom mouthpiece molds.
Using this special process, a strip of cork is applied around the circumference of the shank at a precise thickness to ensure a snug fit into the clarinet body.
With precision much like a skilled dentist, jj Babbitt craftsmen remove excess material from inside the window area of the mouthpiece.
Tip finishing is one of the most critical areas in the plant. When a mouthpiece reaches this station, it will receive the most intricate shaping, grinding, and detailed adjustments yet.
Metal mouthpieces are forged in two pieces. The two halves are soldered together with silver solder and then the joints and ridge are ground smooth for a seamless appearance.
Our production tolerances nitpick to the tiniest fraction of an inch. But does all that additional production time and attention to detail really make difference? You bet it does!
This is the facing area, where the table is smoothed and flattened for the reed. The table must curve slightly near the tip, and at a specific point on the mouthpiece. Special care is given to ensure the side rails and the tip rail are uniform in width and within specifications.
Babbits unique process of milling the mouthpiece and hard rubber insert, ensures a perfectly flushed surface, providing a smooth comfortable contour that is unmatched in the industry.
There are three types of stamping done at jj Babbitt. Metal, foil and pad stamping.
The outside has been ground smooth for an attractive appearance. The inside must also be smooth, not for aesthetics, but for tonal quality. At this point, the shank is reamed and bored to exacting specifications.
The shipping department doubles as the final inspection station because not a single mouthpiece is allowed to leave the premises until it passes over 80 years and 3 generations of jj Babbitts long term commitment to excellence.