New equipment and software have made CD and DVD duplication cost effective and convenient. There are several different methods for duplicating and labeling CDs and DVDs. The option you choose will depend on your budget, your time constraints and the quantities you're producing. You can use:
1. A standalone DVD duplicator tower. This is a manual system that works well if you're producing small quantities. No PC or software is needed. The tower copies the CD or DVD master to four to14 discs at a time.
2. An automated DVD duplicator. For larger quantities, consider an automated duplicator. Insert the CD or DVD master and the system copies hundreds of discs automatically.
3. An automated DVD duplicator with a printer. Some duplicator models include a print function, automating the entire duplication and labeling process.
Here are the steps for getting it done:
Burn your master CD or DVD
CD/DVD burning software is readily available and easy to use. Computers with integrated DVD burners come bundled with DVD/CD burning software.
Links and resources: Apple's Macs include iDVD with their iLife software. Among the CD/DVD burning software choices for PCs are Roxio's Easy Media Creator and Cheetah DVD Burner.
• Make copies of your master
Your next decision depends on how many copies you need. Choices range from single DVD burner drives to completely automated duplicators that will copy and print up to 1,000 discs automatically. For less than 300 DVDs, a manual tower is best. For larger quantities, you're better off with an automated duplicator with an autoloader.
Links and resources: Online retailer ProActionMedia offers a comprehensive comparison chart listing various CD/DVD duplicating equipment options and prices. Disc Makers offers all-in-one burners/printers. Primera and Rimage sell higher-end DVD duplication systems, such as the Bravo XR Disc Publisher and the Rimage Desktop1500.
• Outsource to duplicate or replicate
If you are sending your copying job out, you need to choose: duplication or replication? There's no difference in quality; it's a quantity issue. Duplication is quicker, cheaper and better for quantities under 500. Replication is a physical production process that uses a glass master; discs are "pressed" on machines. Replication is more economical for larger quantities.
Links and resources: Disc Makers will duplicate 100 DVDs with color inserts and cases in five days or can replicate 1,000 DVDs, including cases and color printing, in 10 days.It's an online service, so you can simply email or upload your content. SuperMediaStore also duplicates and replicates and has some handy information for helping you choose.
• Review labeling options and print your labels
Options for labeling your CDs or DVDs also run the gamut, from ultra low-tech Sharpie markers to label-creation software and direct-to-disc printers.Some consumer inkjet printers now include a dedicated CD/DVD tray for printing right on a disc's surface. Higher end duplicators provide thermal printing direct to disc for a more polished and professional look.
Links and resources: Verbatim's "Touch-Less" labeling system packages labels and software. Print on the disk using a keyboard with Casio's Thermal Transfer printer. Design a label and print it on the disk with Epson's Stylus Photo 900. Primera's Bravo DVD Publisher is an all-in-one duplicator/printer. LightScribe is a DVD burner and monochrome printer all in one.
Keep these tips in mind when duplicating your discs:
• Start with good quality media – don't skimp on CD or DVD blank discs.
• Handle discs with care. Keep them clean and dust-free.
• When burning your master disc on your computer, turn off all other programs.
• Slower burning speeds may result in higher quality and fewer burn errors.
• Never print or label your discs before burning.
• Don't mark or label your disc with a pen. Sharpie markers are usually OK.