Printing the Surface of CD-R and DVD-R Disc


Whether you are going to duplicate a large quantity of CDs or DVDs, or would just like to make a few or a few dozen copies of a disc, there are situations that call for a more presentable CD label. There are several choices. You can order custom silk-screened media from CD printing shop or use one of the several CD/DVD printers to print a professional quality label on your discs. You can also use partially preprinted discs, filling in the last details with a marker pen or CD/DVD printer.

Labeling a disc with a Pen When writing on the suface of a disc, never use a ball point pen or any other sharp object to label discs. The absolute safest area for labeling a CD or DVD is within the center stacking ring that surrounds the center hub hole. Due to chemical properties, inks can permeate the disc surface and cause damage to either the reflective layer or dye layer of the CD-R or DVD-R disc. Only use permanent ink felt tip markers that use water soluble ink. Never use a permanent marker pen that contains a solvent.

Paper Type Label One of the easiest ways to "label" a duplicated CD-R or DVD-R disc is to use a paper type label. The labels can be printed on a laser-printer or a color printer. This can be a great option for low volume runs or where customization and flexibility is important. One drawback is the paper labels can get expensive for large quantities, and they can be difficult to put on even with the variety of applicators available, if you do not have enough practices.

When you use paper type labels, there are also some caveats you should first consider. If you misalign the label or do not smooth the label down and there are air bubbles under the surface, then you will have the risk of your CD-R or DVD-R spinning out of balance. The imbalance could cause reading and tracking problems. If you try to reposition the label after it is partially stuck, then you have the risk of damaging the CD-R as you remove the stuck label. In addition, another issue you should consider is that whether the label's adhesive will hold for the long haul as the disc will spin in a heated environment. Some labeling companies claimed that they have tested their label adhesion properties during spin and heat cycles and have solved the these problems. Be aware that some adhesives can "outgas" over time, and the adhesive chemicals can adversely impact the optical system of your drive. The ANSI IT-9 committee has developed a standard for long term storage of optical media which advises against stick-on labels for long term storage due to the problems mentioned above.

Inkjet Printers CD/DVD printers use a modified inkjet print engine or thermal transfer technology. To print with a inkjet, the surface of a disc must be "printable." Manufacturers of printable media add one or more layers of a coating specially designed to absorb ink without smearing or allowing the ink to leach into the data recording layers. Some inkjet CD/DVD printers, such as the Signature IV can be used with some autoloaders for automated labeling.

LightScribe LightScribe is direct disc labeling technology that provides a simple way to burn precise, silk-screen quality labels. All you have to do is burn, flip, and burn. It combines the LightScribe-enabled CD/DVD drive of your PC with specially coated CD or DVD discs (sold separately) and enhanced disc-labeling software. A LightScribe-enabled CD/DVD disc drive uses the optical laser in the drive to burn a label onto a thin dye coating on the label side of the LightScribe disc. There is no ink to smear, no paper to curl, no adhesive to loosen. LightScribe discs are identified by the LightScribe logo on the retail packaging and on the inner hub area of the disc itself.

LightScribe media has a photo-sensitive coating on the label side of the disc. The LightScribe drive uses the CD/DVD laser to make a chemical change in the color layer, much like a camera exposing film to light. The disc label is burned in grayscale, creating an image that resembles a black-and-white photograph.

Thermal Transfer CD-R Printers The Rimage "Perfect Image" Thermal Transfer Printer, by Rimage Corporation (or the Aurora 2-Color Thermal Printer), uses a heat-transfer printing method formerly used for printing floppy disks. This system has been modified to carefully control the heat and pressure applied to the CD-R or DVD-R disc, to avoid the possibility of damaging the media. The Rimage Thermal Transfer Printer and the Aurora can be used with some autoloaders for automated labeling. If you are looking for the best CD print quality, the Everest AutoPrinter from Rimage uses MicroDry variable dot printing technology to print CDs at off-set quality.

Custom Silk-screened Media Since silk-screened CD-R or DVD-R discs look as good or better than replicated discs, for those who plan to use CD-R or DVD-R in quantity, this option is ideal. CD-R and DVD-R discs can be custom silk-screened with a company's logo and the title of the project. Version number can be added to the preprinted media with a marker pen or with an inkjet or thermal printer. This method is especially good for software companies when releasing beta or demo software that goes out to several ten or hundred customers only as it is not economical or timely to have the discs mass replicated.

Also, you can buy equipment for silk screening the CD-Rs and DVD-Rs yourself if you can afford the trouble. If you are going to silk screen, you will need to use a UV curable ink so that the ink colors will not run together. You also need to be sure that the UV curable inks do not contain any chemically active components that can affect the disc after the curing process. Likewise make sure there are no abrasive particles in the ink pigments that can damage the protective layer of the CD-R or DVD-R disc.

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