The Different Types of CD and DVD Printing

on Friday, 15 February 2013. Posted in General

CD and DVD printing is very important for anyone who creates discs for distribution, regardless of the reason. Whether they are music CDs or DVDs of old family movies, quality of a disc cover is important to those receiving it.

Stick-on labels are cheap and seem like they may be a viable option, but over time, they not only start to peel off, but also can damage the lasers of disc drives. Therefore, using a CD/DVD printer is the best option, not only for long term cost savings, but for quality and peace of mind as well.

There are a handful of different kinds of CD/DVD printers.
The most common types are:

  • inkjet printers
  • thermal cd/dvd printers
  • thermal retransfer printers
  • auto loading disc printers
  • integrated disc drive printers

Inkjet Printers

Inkjet printing has been around for quite a while, and is used for a great deal of applications. The most common use of inkjet printers has been to print on standard, 8-inch by 11-inch paper, but there are inkjet printers that can print straight onto CDs and DVDs. All inkjet printers use ink cartridges, which can be expensive to replace, but offer up to a 4800 dpi resolution, allowing for high quality images on discs.

Thermal CD/DVD Printers

These printers connect in a similar way to computers as inkjet printers do (via USB cables), but they offer a much lower (300 x 600 dpi) resolution. They transfer the color onto the discs they are printing on not from ink cartridges however, but from color coated ribbons. They are quick and work well for plain text or simple designs, but for complex designs, users will want to stay away from these printers, as they do not mix colors near as well as other printers.

Thermal Retransfer Printers

Thermal retransfer printers offer the highest possible quality prints onto discs available. This is made possible by using the same technology as standard thermal printers and adding an extra step. The image is first transferred to a transfer ribbon, which helps mix the colors before putting the image onto the disc itself. The results of this single step are worlds apart from thermal printers.

Auto Loading Disc Printers

As the name describes, these printers load the discs automatically, which is great for bulk printing jobs. These printers come in many different varieties, including inkjet and thermal, which have already been explained.

Integrated CD/DVD Printers and Duplicators

These types of printers are a step up from the auto loading disc printers. Not only do they print images directly onto discs, but they also duplicate the entire discs, making copying CDs and printing the same image on each one a breeze. As with the traditional auto loading printers, these also come in all of the different varieties previously described.

Decisions, Decisions

When choosing which of the above types of CD/DVD printers to buy, it is important to keep in mind the needs of your projects and the costs of the machines. If you are only creating a couple of CDs or DVDs for personal use, perhaps an inkjet would be a more viable choice than an auto loading thermal printer that is suited for more industrial work.