Replication services involve three primary steps to complete bulk disc orders: manufacturing, printing and packaging. Typically, a replication company will have the capacity to handle both the production and creative services.
Replication services are available for a variety of media platforms including CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays. Your discs can be replicated at a low cost per disc in these massive volumes; however you will experience a longer turnaround time than duplication. By understanding your replication service options and how to submit the proper materials, you are more likely to get the results you want in an efficient manner.
The Master Disc
First you will need to submit a master disc. This disc will be the original source of data-be it audio, video, etc-that will serve to reproduce thousands to millions of copies in the replication process. The master is read and stored by replication equipment and a glass master is created based on the digital data it renders. From there, CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays are copied multiple times from electroformed metal substrates.
You want to ensure that your master disc is free of errors when it is created. If an error occurs, the same error will appear in its replicated copies. To minimize the odds of disc errors occurring, set the recorder to its slowest write speed and close all other open computer applications. Finalize the disc once the recording is complete. This step will allow other readers to interpret it. Following finalization, verify the absence of any errors by testing the disc in various players and recorders.
For optimum results, use high quality recordable media for your master disc and avoid using rewritable discs, as they will reproduce poorly made copies. Steer clear from packet writing when creating a disc, as its characteristic multiple tracks will create continuity errors in replication. Instead, master your data and audio with a disc-at-once (DAO) session.
Next, disc artwork must be chosen or created. A replication company is generally equipped to handle CD, DVD and Blu-ray graphic design services. The choice is yours when it comes to making your own artwork with the help of disc label software templates or submitting your artistic vision to the professionals to bring to life.
If you choose to submit your own original artwork, there are some guidelines to consider so that the best results are returned to you. First, separate the art layer from the design template. A high resolution image of at least 300 dpi will boost the visual presentation. Include fonts or placed images and add a bleed 1/8 inches past the artwork's edge. Check with your replication service to determine which file formats they can accept for the artwork. Design submission can generally be accomplished via email or FTP site.
Rights and Permissions
Another important element of your disc order submission is to note licensing and copyright laws. If the audio, video or other data you are using to make a disc is not your original creative property, there are several circumstances in which you are prohibited from using it and replicating it for your own work without a license. Consider the ownership of the work and if it fits the fair use doctrine guidelines (which may allow the work to be used): determine if it has commercial use, the nature of the work and its potential commercial value.
In many cases, permission for the use of the work will need to be granted unless the statute of limitations has expired, which can be anywhere from 70 to 95 years after an author's death. You can also obtain licensing permission to replicate artistic work legally via a licensing agency like the HFA. If you have questions regarding any copyright boundaries and laws that pertain to your media project, seek legal advice.
Replicated CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays will have two print options-silkscreen or offset printing. These two methods are the most effective for the high volume demands of replication. Silkscreening involves pressing a spot color ink roller over a stencil and mesh screen to produce an image resolution up to 140 lines per inch. Silkscreen's advantage is its color matching and relatively low cost.
Offset printing provides a higher resolution design at 175 lines per inch, making it a popular choice for photographic or detailed artwork. Using a CMYK color palette, offset printing employs ink plates bearing a reverse image to be applied (or offset so to speak) onto the disc at its proper orientation. A water-based film used on the plates draws ink away from areas designated for blank space. Offset's high resolution factor is what makes it a popular choice for customers.
For disc replication packaging, you can choose from a variety of shapes, materials and sizes tailored to fit your personal or business needs. Jewel cases are common for CDROMs and Amaray-like DVD and Blu-ray cases are paired with DVDROMs and BDROMs. For retail-ready packaging, these cases can be labeled on the case spine and overwrapped with the disc inside.
This disc packaging addition is a part of the automated production process. Paper and cardboard sleeves as well as bubble mailers are effective for mail distribution. If you want to truly cut packaging costs, you can have your replicated discs packaged in bulk with shrink wrap for easy transport.
CD, DVD and Blu-ray replication orders will have a slower turn time than duplication orders due to the time consuming manufacturing process as well as the sheer volume of discs. Several additional steps are also required for replication. The disc artwork must be created and pass through a series of approvals and proofs between the customer and graphic designer.
Next, the manufacturing of the discs takes place, which entails the production of a glass master and thousands of electroformed replicas. Each of those multiple discs must be printed with custom artwork via silkscreen or offset. From there, they are separately packaged in individual cases and mailed.
Standard and bulk replication packages will take one week to ten days to receive. Custom packaging may take closer to ten days to two weeks. If you are facing even greater deadline pressure, some disc replication services will work to expedite your order through shipping and prioritizing means.