Printing on CD or DVD media has come a long way. In the early days of CD printing when there were only CDROMs spotty silkscreen printing was the method used. When the first CD Recordables (CD-R) hit the market new printer technologies were introduced to print on them. The first types of CD printers to come onto the scene were inkjet and thermal printers. Some inkjet cd printers were reconfigured paper printers that allowed for printing onto CD. These printers were very manual and hard to keep up. Also inkjet printers had some drawbacks like replacing expensive ink or having the ink smudge when the disc got moist or wet. Thermal printers were specialized disc printers that used heat to apply a ribbon over the surface of the disc leaving an image. Thermal CD printers were much faster than inkjet printers only you were limited to one or two color prints and simple graphics such as text or line drawings. Both these styles of printers have drawbacks that leave people wanting something better. Fortunately today there is a whole new type of printing technology that is really making waves. That technology is called Thermal Re-Transfer and Dye Sublimation.
The technology was first introduced in the CD DVD printing industry by the Rimage Corporation when they launched their printer named the Everest. The Everest utilizes thermal re-transfer technology to apply a color ribbon to the disc. The difference between thermal and thermal retransfer printing is that you get full color images at very high resolution. The result is a photo quality image that is unlike any other disc printing method. The images are crisp and the glossy surface really brings out the colors nicely. Rimages only competitor in this market is TEAC which offers it’s P-55 CD DVD printer. The TEAC P-55 works similarly to the Rimage Everest by using a dye sublimation process to print discs.
In order for this process to work special ribbons are needed. The ribbons come in 3 color CMY, 4 color CMYK or monochrome black. Also a clear transfer ribbon is used to fuse the resins from the ribbon and then onto the disc. These printers also require a special type of disc for this printing process. Printable cd or dvd media that is specifically designed for this type of printing process are used. Standard lacquer discs just don’t have the required physical properties to accept the thermal re-transfer process. Several manufacturers that make these discs include US Digital Media, Taiyo Yuden and Mitsui to name a few. These discs are made to handle both the heat and pressure of the printers have on the discs plus have the right physical surface properties that allow for the image to be transferred onto them.
The resulting print achieved by these printers is unequaled by any other printing process. The images are vibrant, high resolution and have a beautiful gloss finish. If you’re really serious about presenting an ultra high quality image on your dvd or cd media than you should really consider one of these printers. There really is a night and day difference that will be sure to impress even the biggest print critic.