Thermal Disc Printing Technology – What it is and How it Can Benefit You and Your Business

SUMMARY
No matter what business you are in, you likely have data stored on one or several optical discs. Perhaps you have large files, music, documents, video content, medical images, records or backup data that you have saved and need to distribute. You’ve already made the wise decision to record this data on a CD, DVD or Blu-ray Dis, thereby ensuring it will last a long time as well as be easily distributed and stored. You’ve also guaranteed that your data can be read by any computer anywhere in the world. Now you have one more decision to make: how to create a clear and informative label for the disc. cheap color copies

The disc itself has a large surface area to work with, so it makes sense to utilize this exterior. That way, you and the recipient will know the contents of the disc just by looking at it. There are two common means to this end. First, you could use a Sharpie or other soft tipped, permanent marker to write the contents directly on the disc’s surface. Permanent markers work quickly and easily, but they stop short of what most professionals expect in business-to-business information transfer.

You could also use one of the many inkjet printers that have the ability to print on specially-coated discs. These printers are inexpensive but have two drawbacks, the first of which is the cost of ink. Most manufacturers sell their printers at a low cost and look to ongoing ink sales for profit. The second disadvantage to inkjet printers is the lack of permanence. Most inks are water-based, and if they get damp or wet, you have a messy problem on your hands.

As a professional, it does not make sense to record and distribute large amounts of data on a disc if the label does not live up to the value of the content. Fortunately there is a third option-one that won’t fade, smudge or sell you short. Thermal disc printing is the ideal solution for every disc that needs a clear, reliable and professional label.

This article explains the technology and benefits of thermal disc printing.

INTRODUCTION
Thermal disc printing provides an ideal solution to your disc printing needs. In this paper, we’ll answer the two basic questions behind this type of printing:

  • What is thermal disc printing? First, we’ll address the two basic technologies behind the solution: direct thermal printing and thermal retransfer printing.
  • What are the benefits? After discussing the two technologies, we’ll explain how one thermal printing technology is superior to the other.

WHAT IS THERMAL DISC PRINTING?
There are two different types of thermal printing: direct thermal printing and thermal retransfer printing. Each processes uses heat and pressure to transfer ink from a ribbon to the surface of the disc. Although the processes vary slightly, the results differ significantly.

Direct Thermal Printing
As its name suggests, direct thermal printing transfers ink from an ink ribbon directly to the disc. Through a mix of heat and pressure, the print head transfers wax-based ink from a thermal ink ribbon to the top surface of a disc. The disc itself may or may not be treated with a special top-coating that is optimized for thermal printing. Although both treated and non-treated discs are acceptable, you will, of course achieve superior durability results with a coated disc. In either case, the printed disc can withstand modest handling and can endure a moderate amount of water and sunlight. However, if the printed disc is going to be handled a lot, you will eventually see the effects of abrasion over time.Therefore, direct thermal printing is often used for restore discs, backup software copies, monthly phone and payroll logs,
bank statements and whenever one-time use of a disc is the norm.

Most of the wax-based inks in direct thermal printing complete print jobs fairly inexpensively. In the United Sates, the cost of thermal disc printing is under 10 cents per disc. However, you will not achieve bright and vibrant labels with this thermal print technology; the ribbons are strictly monocolor (black print on a silver or white disc). If you can live with basic, single-color labels, direct thermal disc printing will work well for you.

Thermal Retransfer Printing
Your second option for one-at-a-time disc printing is thermal retransfer printing. Never heard of thermal retransfer printing? If you are like most folks, there are a couple examples in your wallet right now. The most common use of thermal retransfer printing is for credit and debit cards. The credit card market, like much of the optical disc market, requires high quality color, high resolution, great durability, permanence and low cost per print, and thermal retransfer printing delivers it all.

The main difference between thermal retransfer printing and direct thermal printing is that thermal retransfer printing is a two-step print and retransfer process. How does it work? During the initial printing stage, the printer copies an image to a clear retransfer ribbon. The color is applied from the printer’s supply ribbon, which contains a colored ink coating of cyan, magenta, and yellow in sequential panels. The second stage is the retransfer process. During this process, the image and the color are applied to the disc. Using heat and a small amount of pressure, the print head irons over the ribbon, thereby retransferring the color image from the ribbon to the disc, hence the name thermal¬†retransfer¬†printing. The whole process takes about one minute.