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CD Manufacture Inspecting a CD Glass Master

If you require 500 CDs or more, we generally recommend that your CDs are manufactured rather than duplicated as CD-Rs.

The minimum production run for manufactured CDs is 500, but it is more cost effective to press 1000 or more and the maximum duration for a standard manufactured CD is 79 minutes and 40 seconds. Once the master has been created, all artwork is complete and the MCPS license has been issued, the CDs are normally delivered in approximately 3 weeks. All our CDs are manufactured in the UK.

There are a variety of packaging options for CDs. Most clients opt for the standard jewel case, but depending on the project, it’s also worth considering alternatives such as super jewel cases, cardboard sleeves, plastic wallets or the many types of DigiPak. Each of these packaging options has a specific artwork layout for the booklet and inlay - a standard booklet is 6 pages, but can be any length from 2 to 128 pages and we can help you select the right product for your project.

How are CDs and DVDs Manufactured ?

CD/DVD Glass MasteringThe first stage in CD/DVD manufacture is to prepare the glass master. This is done in Class 1 Clean Room conditions where the data fro our pre-master is etched by laser into a glass blank which then has a thin layer of nickel deposited electrostatically on it.

Washing the elctroplated "Mother"The nickel substrate is then built up into a thick layer by electroplating which creates the “Mother” - from this the stampers are pressed which will actually produce the discs.

Polycarbonate chipsRaw CDs are made from small clear polycarbonate chips that are heated to remove all traces of moisture. Each of the sackfulls of chips you can see here can produce about 40,000 CDs.

CD/DVD StamperThe polycarbonate is then injection molded against the stamper at a pressure of 60 tonnes to produce a clear CD that contains all the audio data but is not playable until it receives its silver coating by an electrostatically charged vaporisation process.

Electroplating a CD/DVDThe reflective coating is then protected with a layer of clear lacquer that is applied centrifugally. The whole process from raw chips to lacquered CD takes about 3 seconds so each machine or "monoline" can produce up to 1200 CDs per hour.

Sample CDs from each production run are analysed both for mechanical tolerance and data integrity before receiving quality approval and moving on to the print stage.

Silkscreen printing a CD/DVD labelThe CD label is screen printed onto the lacquered side of the disc one colour at a time. These can either be bespoke spot colours or the standard cyan, magenta, yellow, black and white used to make up a "full colour" image or "picture disc".

CD jewel case packingThe finished CDs are then automatically packed together with their inlays and booklets into jewel cases which are in turn cellophane wrapped for protection.

Thanks to ODC Business Services (formerly ThamesdownSDC) for permission to photograph their CD and DVD production lines.

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