Thermal CD Printing Explained

Dec 21, 2011
In the not so distant past silk screening was the primary method of on disc printing for compact discs. As technology has progressed other methods have come along that not only improve the quality of printing itself but reduce the cost for low quantities or "short runs". Offset printing is one of these methods and is significantly better looking print than silkscreen, but this process is still reserved for large quantity production runs. In the past 10 years inkjet printing onto CD has also become very popular. One of the top innovations though for CD printing processes is thermal printing or more appropriately termed thermal transfer printing.

A thermal transfer printer is a printer that prints on paper or other media such as a CD or DVD by melting a coating of ribbon or film so that it stays glued to the material on which the print is applied.. This process was invented by SATO Corporation around the mid 19th century.

This thermal printing technology can be used to make color images by adhering a wax-based ink onto the CD. As the CD and ribbon travel in unison beneath the print head, the ink from the transfer ribbon melts onto the disc surface. When cooled, it is permanently adhered to the surface. This type of thermal printer uses the same size area of ribbon for each page that is printed regardless of its size or how much print is actually used..

Non color printers have a black panel for each page that is to be printed, while color printers have either three (CMY) or four (CMYK) colored panels for each of the surfaces to be printed. For disc printing, CMY is commonplace.

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