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CD/DVD Labelling

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
What's your experience of labelling writable optical storage (CD-R/DVD±R/Blu-ray/etc)?

I have never tried printable discs (I don't have a printer that could take them);​
I have never tried printable pre-cut paper labels (worried about unbalancing the disc, and registration of the print);​
If it's just something scratch I write on it with an indelible marker (ugly, lousy writing, thick pen);​
For "production" purposes I use LightScribe (expensive media, and low-contrast mono print).​

Anybody played with sticky labels? Any other bright ideas?
 
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Trev

The Dumb One
I have used sticky labels and have never had a problem with them as long as I use my label application 'machine'.
 

prpr

Well-Known Member
Same as Trev.
Haven't made a label for a long time though. The ones I did do 15-20 years ago all seem to have survived perfectly, in label terms anyway.
(I've had one data DVD that I can't recover the last 100MB or so from, and the previous 100MB was difficult and involved lots of manual trickery. This is at the extreme edge of the disc.)
 

EEPhil

Number 28
Never used labels - not even on "production" CDs created at the university. In most cases only ever used marker pen.
 

Brian

Administrator
Staff member
I have printed directly onto white faced DVD discs using an Epson inkjet printer. The discs fit onto a plastic holder, which is inserted into the single sheet feed slot.
 
OP
Black Hole

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
An Epson printer I had to retire had a direct path feed slot (good printer, I don't recall its model number). The replacement doesn't (S22). My workhorse Epson ET-4550 is even worse when it comes to paper handling, the feed tray is underneath so the paper path does a U bend and won't take anything heavier than 160gsm. When I'm using 300gsm for tickets or the like I can just about get it through the S22 (which I also have to use for borderless - the 4550 won't do that either). Correct those two aspects and I wouldn't need another printer.

I have a Brother mono laser with a direct paper path option, but I hardly ever turn that on now as it needs a new cartridge and the 4550 is much cheaper to run. It's just taking up desk space and I ought to get rid of it but...

The discs fit onto a plastic holder, which is inserted into the single sheet feed slot.
Have you had no problem with registration? The problem I anticipate is the inconvenience of getting it wrong.
 
OP
Black Hole

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
Printable vinyl seems like a better option than paper for printing CD labels (because it's very thin), except I don't think it's available pre-cut. I have some in stock, might give it a try (dye-based inks are better for this than pigment-based inks... but black ink tends to be pigment even if the CMY inks are dye!).
 
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OP
Black Hole

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
except I don't think it's available pre-cut
Does anybody have experience of the die cutters that seem to be popular in Hobbycraft? So far as I can make out, a metal shape with sharp edges is pressed onto the desired material between rollers, and causes the same shape to be punched out of the workpiece. If a CD-label shaped die were available (or could be made), at first sight this seems ideal.

Alternatively USB-driven hobby CNC XY cutters are available (for a price!), but then registration becomes an issue again.
 
OP
Black Hole

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
Okay, well I've had a play and I think my process (for small quantities - it's very laborious) produces an excellent result.


Pro-Effect CD/DVD Labelling for One-Offs

Prerequisites:
  • Printable self-adhesive vinyl;

  • Clear self-adhesive film, the thinner (lighter weight) the better;

  • Very sharp craft knife / scalpel.
Method:
  1. Prepare artwork by whatever means (I use Corel Draw), and ensure full bleed (that means the artwork extends beyond the edge of the expected required print, so that any inaccuracy in the final trimming doesn't result in unprinted areas showing white - normal publishing practice). There is no need to ensure the print is circular, as long as the essential detail is contained within a 120mm circle and avoiding the 14mm hole in the middle. To allow for misalignment, allow at least a 3mm margin from the edges, so the detail should be within a 114mm circle and avoiding a 20mm circle in the centre.

    To avoid wasted material, as I will be printing A4 I prepared the artwork for two CDs on one sheet.

  2. Inkjet print to printable vinyl and allow to dry.

  3. Separate the artworks (if more than one on the sheet), and remove the bulk of the surplus with scissors (allow a good margin around the actual printed area). When handling, be careful not to smudge the print.

  4. Even using dye inks and allowing time to dry properly (in the airing cupboard), I found the resulting print far too ready to smudge with handling. I tried a spray of lacquer, but the ability to smudge also meant the lacquer didn't stick very well. I therefore went for plan B and put a layer of clear book protector film (AKA Transpaseal, or clear Fablon) over the top (the thinner the gauge the better).

  5. On the backing paper, mark an X at the centre of the printed artwork, and remove a wedge of the backing from close to the X to the outside edge of the print, but ensuring the X is not removed (a very sharp craft knife, used lightly, will cut through the backing paper without damaging the vinyl layer). With the sticky wedge face up, carefully position the CD/DVD centred on the X with the labelling surface down (optical surface up, and be careful not to make fingerprints). Let the exposed wedge tack onto the disc.

    Turn over and inspect, then rub the vinyl sandwich down well in the wedge. Expel air bubbles. Now gradually peel back the rest of the backing and progressively rub down (this is the standard technique for minimising bubbles). If any specs of dirt get trapped they will leave raised bumps - if spotted quickly enough the vinyl can be peeled back to that point and the spec removed with the tip of a blade.

    With the whole sticker applied, rub down well.

  6. With a very sharp craft knife, use the perimeter of the disc itself to trim the sticker around the edge and around the centre hole. Any slight overhang can be scraped back (but take extreme care not to shave any polycarbonate off the disc as this will unbalance it as well as spoil the professional appearance).
Footnote

Further ideas for exploration: Using a laminator and laminating pouch to apply the protective layer over the vinyl print (instead of Transpaseal).
 
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Trev

The Dumb One
I'm with Ezra on this one. Precut CD labels, inkjet printer. Lablel applying machine as above. Job done. Simples.
But we know that BH likes doing things the hard way.
 
OP
Black Hole

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
I agree that's probably good enough most of the time... but it's still just a paper label stuck on! If I'd had some in stock I might well have done it that way, but I didn't so I used what I had and the lamination provides a sealed surface.

Also, the method described eliminates problems with balance if a label were misaligned.

The vinyl is a faff though, uncut paper label sheets would be easier and then the lamination becomes optional. Even better with photo paper.

But we know that BH likes doing things the hard way.
Do we? I'm only up for more effort if it leads to a better result. It all depends what you consider "good enough" (and for my purpose writing on the disc with a pen wasn't good enough).
 
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