A CD or DVD is not complete until it is printed and there are incredible disc printing technologies available today that result in professional, full color, photo-realistic images. But these different disc printing technologies use different techniques that may make some better suited than others for certain projects depending factors such as disc quantity and the details of your desired imprint. The following is a brief overview of the different kind of disc printing methods available.
With inkjet printing, ink is dispensed from tiny nozzles in the printer and applied directly to the surface of a disc. While it is necessary to use discs with surfaces compatible to the ink to prevent smearing and smudging, with these discs, inkjet printing will result in high resolution, photo-like images. The only downfall with inkjet printing is that exact color matching can be difficult because it does not support a Pantone color palette.
Silk Screen Printing
With silk screen printing, separate films are created for each color that is to be used in the image. These films are laid on a mesh screen that is covered with a light-sensitive emulsion. The film and the screen are then exposed to UV light and the emulsion is hardened in the areas not covered by the film. The screen is then places on top of the surface of the disc and ink is pushed through the mesh. This process must be repeated for each film (each color in the image). While silk screen printing can produce great images with effective color matching, and often at the most cost effective rates, it may not be the best technique to use for images with fine details because the mesh can produce a grainy effect around very small details, but for high volume orders with simple designs silk screen printing can be a great option.
Offset printing is a technique whereby the image in transferred (or “offset”) from a plate, to a rubber blanket, and then onto the surface of disc. It uses a CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) ink system, which allows for an infinite number of color possibilities. With its color combinations and the nature of its printing process, offset printing results in vibrant, quality images and smooth, even disc coverage (without the possibility of fine mesh screen marks). Like silk screen printing though, offset printing is intended for high-volume disc orders because of the fees for setup costs.
Thermal and Everest Printing
Thermal printing uses heat and pressure to apply text and/ or graphics onto the surface of a CD or DVD. Everest printing, also known as a type of thermal re-transfer, first transfers color to a clear ribbon, and then to the disc, along with a clear, glossy, protective top coat. This process results in the highest quality, most durable images available by any printing process – but it can come with a cost and thus may be better suited for smaller quantity orders.
For more information about the printing processes available at Total Media, Inc. and to discuss which method may be best suited