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How A CD/DVD Is Silkscreened

Aug 7, 2008
In 1907, Samual Simon of England took out the first patent on the printing process using screens. John Pilsworth adopted the process and used it to create multicolor prints which opened the door to all kinds of new applications that we see today.

One of those applications is the silk-screening of a media disc surface. If you have ever bought or rented a DVD or CD, any art on the face of the disc was most likely silkscreened. The difference in appearance of a store bought CD as opposed to a duplicated CD is noticeable because store bought CDs are mostly replicated and the face of the disc is printed using a silkscreen method. Much in the same way as shirts or other items are silkscreened.

The process used is the same as used for shirts, or specialty items. It uses a screening process that runs colored UV ink over the screens in a separate run for each color being used.

To silk-screening a CD or DVD, the screening machines have round indentations in a table top for the discs to be automatically set into. The machine is entirely controlled by robotic CNC and places, screens, and removes the disc all automatically with an operator running the machine. A Robotic arm operates the actual screens and lowers each disc onto the table as it is rotated into position on the table.

A pre-measured color of Ink is applied by a controlled dispenser and then a squeegee spreads the ink across the screen in a smooth controlled fashion which in turn transfers the ink to a target disc. With t-shirt silk screening, many times the squeegee is done by hand but with the discs, it is all operated by an expensive CNC robotics machine.

After each color is applied, the automated table rotates to the next position but will actually skip one position to allow some air-drying between coats. This allows for two set of discs being screened at once. Each position on the system wheel has a different color and different screen.

Ink is applied in an exact measured amount so that there is no dripping or bleeding while it spread through the screen with a squeegee. The inks used for the process are specially formulated for silk-screening on to a lacquered CD or DVD surface.

After the ink is applied, the discs move to a station on the table that is equipped with UV lamps which cures the ink. After they pass through the UV lamp station, they are removed from the replication press by a robotic arm and stacked onto an output spindle for spindle bundling or packing.

Silk-screening a CD or DVD will give the disc a store bought look and can actually accomplish prints that can not be done with Ink Jet or Thermal printing. Some disc artwork requires that the inside depressed ring be filled with ink to give the finished product a completely flat surface and with a printed duplicated disc you can not accomplish that effect. Silk-screening allows for a much more complicated print layout onto the surface of the disc.
About the Author
There are many companies that perform CD/DVD silkscreening and you can even have it done to blank discs. Check around for the best price that will fit your budget.
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