CD printing: the best printing method for your project

Are you still using adhesive labels on your compact discs? You’ll be glad to know that there are much safer and more durable techniques that can be used to create attractive covers for your CDs and DVDs. It’s now easier than ever to burn music, burn movies, and store data on a CD, but burning a disc without hassle is only half the battle. Labeling your creation and making it look professional can even be twice the challenging task. Below are a variety of different printing methods you can use for your recordings and projects in addition to printing and using sticky labels that affect disc balance and cause problems with disc playability:

• Lithographic offset printing

The industry standard for high volume disc labeling and printing, lithographic printing is an innovative printing method that involves the creation of what are known as printing plates. These plates can be made from photographic negatives, which are processed using a traditional photo production method where the negatives are bathed in chemicals. Images can also be processed directly from a computer to a plate machine in a procedure known as CTP, or computer-to-plate processing. The plates are imposed onto rubber blanket cylinders inside a specialized printing machine (hence the term offset, as the images on the plates travel over the cylinders). The cylinders then apply the appropriate colors to the print side of the disc.

• Silk screen printing

Screen printing uses the basic principle of traditional screen printing in which ink is passed through a mesh or screen. The mesh is stretched over a frame along with an outline or stencil of the image to be printed. The open areas of the stencil allow ink to flow, leaving a nice, clean print on the disc. A four-color process, CD screen printing, like screen printing on garments and fabrics, is best suited for designs that use solid colors rather than those with color gradients.

• Inkjet printing

Inkjet printing is a cost-effective option for those with low-volume printing requirements. The best thing about inkjet is that it can be used to produce a wide range of design styles, including solid color and photographic images. This type of CD printing uses similar principles and technologies to home color inkjet printers.

• Thermal printing

In thermal printing, images are sent directly from the computer to the printing machinery. The machine uses transfer ribbons that run under a heated print head, allowing ink transfer. Thermal outputs are waterproof and do not require additional procedures to keep the print intact, unlike inkjet prints.

Regardless of the type of printing method you choose to use, it pays to have a reliable source of supplies to ensure you never run out in the middle of a print batch.

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