Printing your CDs/DVDs/Blu-ray Disc Labels – Part One

In most cases, it’s pretty easy to create a CD, DVD, or even Blu-ray disc.  Although special formatting software may be necessary for creating specific types of discs (playable DVD or Blu-ray video, for example), creating basic discs used to store and distribute information can be almost as simple as selecting the files you want copied using a disk writing program and pressing a ‘BURN’ button.

The big problem may be less HOW to create an Optical Disc than it is how to know what’s ON that disc once it’s been created.  Although labeling a disc hasn’t gotten much attention over the years, a well produced label can be almost as important as what’s on the other side of the disc.

A well designed label will give the person holding the disc in his or her hand a strong indication of what’s on the disc whereas a poorly designed one will leave him or her confused and clueless.  This can be as complex as a title and listing of all the files, or as simple as something like ‘Aleratec Blogs – April-August 2010.’  Labels can have an intricate full color graphic, or a company logo, or just a plain text title against a blank background.  The intricacy and complexity of the label should be related to the informational purpose that they serve.

Currently, there are a few technologies in common use for label creation. Here is the first of four methods which will be described in this series:

Adhesive stick-on labels:  The adhesive stick-on labels are die-cut discs stamped onto a sheet of adhesive backed paper.  The labels are designed on a computer and printed on a laser or ink jet printer.  Once printed, the labels are peeled off the paper backing, and, using a placement tool, the labels are placed on the label side of the disc.

You have to be careful not to put them through a laser printer more than once – if passed through a second time, the labels may come loose from the backing sheet and adhere to the laser drum.  Depending on the design of the printer, this could mean that the drum is destroyed, or just the cartridge is destroyed – either one can be a very costly error.

You may have to make adjustments to assure that the image that goes on the paper is aligned with the image in the computer.  With enough trial and error, these adjustments will provide a fairly accurate print.

Attaching these labels to the label surface of a disc isn’t always easy.  Once any part of the label touches the disc, it can’t be easily removed – that adhesive is tenacious.  If the label is not perfectly centered on the disc, the balance will be off, potentially throwing the disc off balance enough to make the disc unreadable.   If you try to place a second, corrected label on top of one already stuck to a disc, the disc may be too thick to be read by some drives.

In my next post, I’ll describe LightScribe labeling, thermal label printing and inkjet label printing.

Mark Brownstein is a technology journalist and technology consultant who specializes in explaining and interpreting new technologies, and clarifying how to integrate these new products into current systems. He has been Editor-In-Chief at computer technology and networking publications, has held significant editorial positions at major technology magazines, and is a frequent contributor to various technology magazines. He has written seven books. He is Microsoft Certified, and spends much of his time testing hardware and software products, running his own networks, and learning the best ways to get computer systems running and to keep them running.

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Posted in DVD CD Blu-ray Disc, LightScribe

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