Hey Guys...I'm trying to find a printer that will allow me to print directly onto a CD or DVD. I've found several, but I'm curious as to how accurate the colors will be. In the event that I print out my employers logo, I want it to be accurate, as they're very particular about it. Any advice?
Do you want only a printer, or a machine that makes the actual copies as well as then prints on them? Or a regular paper document printer that can also print on disks for occasional use?
Do you want thermal printing or inkjet?
Thermals are fast, and don't smudge if your disc gets moist or is handled by wet fingers, but IMO inkjets have better color reproduction, particularly for photos of people and the like, and the ink is cheaper than the thermal colors. The cost per unit is always a moving target.
Think about ink: a ribbon-based machine or a single-cartridge ink tank machine means if the design for a disk is heavy in one color, that color runs out first and you throw away an ink cartridge or ribbon that may still be half full. Multi-tank inks, where you can replace just the short one of 3 or 4 colors, are a better value long term. If you stick to mostly B&W, or leave a lot of white space in the disc label design, you save even more.
Both formats require dedicated blank media: you can't print inkjet on thermal stock at all, and thermal printing on inkjet disks doesn't work very well. The blanks look identical except inkjets are slightly matte-finished, and thermals are more shiny.
We do both kinds at our shop, for small runs of 1-50 at a time, we really like the Bravo Primero Pro inkjet duplicator/printer: it has a small footprint, runs well with a PC or a mac, is pretty fast for a two-drive machine, good price. Rimage and Microboards are similar competitors. For runs of more than a hundred, we tend to use a dedicated self-contained Microboards tower replicator (no PC hookup required) with 10 drives and a stand-alone robotic thermal printer from Rimage with a rotating tray that can thermal print 200 at a time. The Microboards tower is blazing fast, the down side is every eight minutes or so you have to empty and re-feed it by hand. The Bravo is much slower by comparison and needs a computer hooked into it, but you can set it and forget it for as long as it takes to make 50 copies and go edit or do something else productive.
The accuracy of color between RGB video and CMYK print is always a gamble: one is additive color, the other, subtrractive and usually you're in the ball park for color using white coated disks, but if your clients demand pantone-digit-level color accuracy, you'll have to do some test runs and adjust color settings in the printer or in the images while in photoshop to compensate for what the printer output looks like.
Some HP and Lexmark document printers have trays that allow you to run CD's and DVD's thru the printer as if they were single sheets of paper. This may be okay of you only do one or two disks a week, but I would never suggest it for more than that.
I think it's the Dymo people that make a tiny thermal printer that only makes a tiny B&W label on disks as you slide them thru like a credit card. About $50 at an office supply store. Not really for distribution use but for neatness when making in-house archives and you want something better than a sharpie pen.
Never use stick-on labels on DVD's or CD's, that was never a good idea.
We just use the Epson Stylus PHOTO R260. It ink-jet prints on the white printable DVDs and looks like a million bucks. It was dirt cheap, too... probably well less than $200. It's a year or more old though, I'm betting it has been replaced with a higher model by now.
It's quite fast, and as I said the results are very professional...they look just as good as the four-color process printing that we've had done when we have outsourced big duplication jobs. We only do very short runs of printed DVDs (a few at a time for client copies of stuff)... if I had heavier needs I might go a more "pro" route but for what we do this is fine.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Thanks for all the info, Guys...Time to go shopping!
We use a couple of Epsons (340 model I think) with great results. No mass printing here. We run 10 or 20 a week and send out larger orders . We also do a simple text printing on all of our approval copies (for clients) and elements backups (for us). It just looks a little more pro than a Sharpie. Good Luck! CH
It depends on how much money you want to spend, and what kind of quality you want to end up with. A great torture test that I highly recommend is that you lightly wet your thumb, and do a smear test. Some discs will not hold their color at all, and can smear VERY easily.
If you're wanting a very professional solution, I'd take a look at the Primera stuff (http://www.primera.com). They offer a DVD burner/printer for $1500, and the print quality is awesome. I saw it at NAB, and the discs looked great, and don't smear. You have to use a specific type of disc, and then buy the ink, but if you're going to do a lot of production DVD or CD's for clients and it needs to be a professional end product, its totally worth it.
Be warned: I've had no end of trouble with Primera kit. Absolute nightmare with 2 drive failures in just over a year.
Also, the print you see at the trade shows may look fantastic - but that's max quality. Which rips through the ink cartridges in no time at all. And those cartridges ain't cheap.
I sold my Primera on eBay and got a nice duplication tower and HP printer instead. 10x more reliable.
You might have been just the unlucky one. Most people rave over them. Also, there are ways to economize on the way to print labels that are more thrifty using ink, and that goes for any printer you choose.
"Oh, you wanted to RECORD that?"
Maybe - but I can only go on my experience and the thing was a nightmare from start to finish for me. Was glad to see the back of it. The Mac software was incredibly flaky too - crashed half the time through print runs.
And obviously I found the way to be thrifty with the ink ;)