Replication at a Glance
Long before CDRs and DVDRs, but after records and cassettes, there were CDROMs. CDROM stands for Compact Disc Read Only Memory and means that the data can be read but not erased or recorded. Our replication service involves manufacturing CDROMS and DVDROMs for the mass production of 1,000 to millions of discs.
The Manufacturing Process
The replication process for CDROM or DVDROM begins with glass mastering. A glass plate is made and by using photoresist (organic polymer) and then a laser writes the data onto it. The next process is called Electroplating and involves applying a very thin layer of metal over the photoresist. Once that is completed, electroforming takes place where additional metal layers are applied.
After that, the discs are "stamped," where the electroplating process is duplicated on what is called a "father." Several impressions from the "father" are made. These additional impressions are called "mothers." Then the same electroplating process is duplicated on the "mothers" creating additional impressions called "sons." The metal impressions of the "sons" are then used as molds for injection molding.
Molds are injected with liquid polycarbonate to complete the molding process. Next the discs are layered with a thin layer of aluminum, which reflects the laser light in a CD or DVD player allowing it to read the information. After metallization is completed, a layer of plastic is coated over the metal protecting the metal from harm. The reason why CDROMs can easily be repaired is the layer of plastic has no real use but to coat the metal and keep it protected. If a CDROM gets a scratch, it will distort the laser and cause error in playback. Once the scratch is removed, the laser can then read the information embedded on the metal.
After the disc has been replicated, it is ready to be printed. The artwork can be printed using one of two different methods. Silkscreen printing is the traditional method of printing on CDROMs, which uses screens, spot colors and exposures. Silkscreen print resolution is typically in the range of 80-140 lines per inch, which can produce great spot color prints print. Until recently, silkscreen has been the only option for printing on CDROMs.
Now, offset printing is available which has a resolution of 175 lines per inch. A much crisper and more defined full color image can be created using the offset printing process. Most all DVDROMs are now printed using offset and it is increasing in popularity for CDROMs as well. The difference lies in the artwork where offset is great for photographs and full color (CMYK+ white) artwork, silkscreen is still best for spot or Pantone color prints (up to 6 spot colors).
The final step prior to shipping the finished CDROM or DVDROM to the customer is packaging. Packaging can come in many different shapes and sizes from simple paper sleeves to sturdy plastic cases that hold printed inserts, or even custom printed cardboard mailers. The most common types of cases are jewel cases for CDROMs and DVD cases for DVDROMs. CDs and DVDs can be inserted using automated equipment, which cuts down on cost of labor and insertion time, and allows for cost effective add-ons along the automated process like spine labels and overwrapping. For mail fulfillment, look to cardboard or padded bubble mailers to ensure safe delivery to your clients and customers.