DVD and CD Manufacturing

In today’s society we are conditioned to think that technology makes everything easier, faster and cheaper. While examples of this can be found rather easily it does not hold true for all products and services.

One industry that suffers from the misconception of technology equating to easy and fast processes is the CD replication and DVD replication industry (not to be confused with CD duplication and DVD duplication).

As noted below, in many instances every component of a fully packaged CD or DVD is completely custom made. The only ‘off-the-shelf’ component being paper stocks and ink that are used in the printing processes. Custom manufacturing of so many components for each and every order certainly creates a burden of time and expense, which becomes a challenge in today’s market of easier, faster and cheaper expectations.

The example shown below breaks down the steps required to create what is likely to be the most popular packaged disc option in the market today: That being a CD or DVD disc packaged in a printed board-stock sleeve or wallet.

  • Glass Master and Stamper Creation
  • The CD replication process embeds data into the disc during the injection-molding process.

    Using a specialized suite of software programs, the data from the client’s master disc is ripped, analyzed for errors, and is then transferred via an etching process onto a “glass master”. The glass master is then electroplated to create a “stamper” which, in turn, is used to embed the data into the disc in the replication process.

  • Disc Replication
  • The replication process begins with optical grade polycarbonate pellets which are heated and injection-molded into the finished size and shape of the disc product.

    During injection-molding, the clear polycarbonate is pressed up against the stamper which embeds the data into the plastic. After the discs cool a very thin aluminum layer is added to the data-side of the plastic and is then protected with a clear lacquer coat.

  • Disc Printing
  • When replication of the discs is complete the graphics (also commonly referred to as the ‘label’) are printed onto the clear lacquered side of the disc.

    This is typically done using either CMYK Offset Printing or Silkscreen Printing methods, which are commercial machines that require a pre-press stage involving film rip and imaging prior to the printing taking place.

  • Disc Sleeve Printing
  • Many of today’s eco-friendly packaging solutions are completely custom made as they consist solely of printed boardstock.

    Sheet stock is printed using CMYK Digital or CMYK Offset commercial printers which require a pre-press stage and ripping of artwork files. Depending on the type of printer being used printing plates may (or may not) have to be created.

  • Die-Cutting
  • After the sheet stock has been printed and dries sufficiently the individual sheets are die-cut.

    Die-cutting is a process where the printed sheet stock is run through a machine that (a) cut’s the individual eco-sleeves from the sheet, and (b) creates creases and fold lines as appropriate, all in one process.

  • Folding and Gluing
  • After the printed eco-sleeve has been die-cut it is ready to be folded and glued into it’s final useable form. Depending on the size and complexity of the order, this can either take place with an automated commercial folding/gluing machine, or it can be folded and glued manually.

  • Assembly and Wrap
  • Now that the eco-sleeve is ready, the printed discs can be inserted into the eco-sleeves to create the finished product. It is the norm for most disc/sleeve packages to be run through an automated shrink-wrapping machine for retail-readiness.

    Leave a Reply