CD Replication – A Service User’s Point Of View

CD Replication - A Service User's Point Of View

An unexpected requirement for large quantities of CDs – This calls for CD replication.

Tim Burgess is a manager at a recording studio, where he organizes gigs and promotes. He orders CDs to be sold at gigs or for distribution to record companies and radio stations to get airtime. He has used a reliable supplier for CD duplication services since most of his jobs require a small number of CDs, usually up to 1000. Tim and his team create their own artwork using the packaging templates and CDs supplied by the manufacturer. They then duplicate, package, and label the CDs. They recently began working with a band that came to them to record their first album. Their live performances and social media presence had made them a huge success. Tim knew that only a limited number of CDs would not be sufficient to meet the demand for their CDs at gigs or for sale online. They would need at most 12,500 CDs, which is a lot more than what they are used to.

To get their opinion, he calls their supplier of CD replication services and talks to Dean, the project manager they usually deal with. He suggested they choose CD replication for manufacturing rather than CD duplicate.

CD Duplication and CD Replication: What is the Difference?

Tim knew of the term “CD replication” but assumed it was the same thing as duplication. The term “CD pressing,” which is generally used to describe the production of CDs, is also common. He was unaware that the terms were actually two different processes. The act of burning information onto pre-manufactured “write once” CDs with an optical drive is called CD duplication. The act of physically molding an exact copy of the master disc is known as CD replication. Dean quickly explained the basics to Tim and informed him that he would be visiting a supplier who specializes in CD replication at the end. He asked Tim to observe the manufacturing process, and he agreed.

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Visit the CD Replication Process

Dean picked Tim up at the airport the next day, and they traveled together to the factory. Tim was surprised to see that the factory was more like a large-scale production facility. They were joined by an engineer for the tour to help explain the various stages of the process as well as to view CDs being manufactured.

Stage 1 – Mastering Glass

The first step in the replication process is to create a glass master CD. This will serve as the template for all subsequent CDs. The engineer brought Tim and Dean to a clean environment to observe the process. They were required to wear gloves, hats, and protective clothing to keep dust particles and hairs from falling on them. This would prevent the complicated and intricate manufacturing process from getting disrupted. The substrate is glass. One side of the disc is polished to make it twice as thick and diameter. The final product quality of final CDs can be affected by even tiny scratches. This is why it is essential to keep the environment clean. After coating the master glass with a photoresistor dye-polymer, the master glass is baked in an oven to dry and prepare for mastering. The laser is used to create “pits” in the dried coating. These pits represent the physical interpretation of the audio and/or software data from the master recording that is to be reproduced.

Stage 2 – Manufacture the Nickel Stamper with the Glass Master

Next, bake the coating on the glass master until it is hardened. Then, metalize the glass master with nickel vapor. Next, the nickel-coated master is carefully inspected for any flaws or irregularities in the coating. The nickel-coated master surface is susceptible to damage, so several processes are performed using the original glass master. These processes produce stronger “Father,” Mother, and “Son” stampers. The Son stamper is used for the injection molding of the final products.

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Stage 3 – Injection molding of the CDs made from Polycarbonate

High-temperature injection molders are used to create the final product. They can produce nearly 1000 discs an hour. Multiple molds can be used to produce large quantities of discs. The machines can also run simultaneously. The machine is fed with polycarbonate pellets via a hopper. These are heated, and then the liquid polycarbonate is injected into a mold to form the disc. A high-speed automated system then removes the clear discs. The transparent disc contains all the information required but cannot be read by an optical drive because there is not yet a reflective layer. The next step is to add the reflective layer.

Stage 4 – Metallizing the Manufactured CDs and Lacquering them

The CDs are then placed in a metalizing chamber, where a skinny layer of aluminum alloy is applied. To prevent corrosion from moisture in the air and other contaminants like grease or skin contact, a thin layer of lacquer is applied to this metallic layer. The discs are stored on spindles until they are ready for printing.

Printing and packaging CDs

Tim is familiarized with this aspect of manufacturing as it is similar to that used for CD replication. You can screen print or lithographically print the CDs.

Screen Printing – This printing method can produce stunning printed CDs if the artwork is composed of text or solid block colors. This printing method is also excellent if your budget is limited. You can still produce a stunning-looking product by using only 1 or 2 colors in your design. The silver surface will show through in certain areas, such as text. You only need to pay for the film and screen for each color of ink. This is only useful for small runs of discs.

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Lithographic printing – This is the best method to print artwork that is either a photograph or has complex color gradients. This method can print highly high-resolution images. However, it is not a good idea to mix solid block colors with photographic images. Lithographic printing is not reliable for printing consistent solid colors. Dark photographic images are also not recommended as they can be challenging to print.
We use a variety of packaging types, from standard jewel cases and card wallets to packaging assembly and jukeboxes for special edition CDs.

CD Replication’s Manufacturing Time Advantage

CD replication has the advantage that it costs less per unit to print large quantities of CDs, especially when you need to repeat larger runs. Once the glass mastering process and molds have been made, they are durable and can produce millions of CDs before they need to be replaced. CD replication has a disadvantage. The initial glass mastering process can be time-consuming and complex. This could mean that your initial order might take between 10 and 14 working days. As long as you are prepared for the slower manufacturing process and that you don’t wait until the last moment to place your order, or if you don’t have an immediate need for CDs, this is acceptable.


Tim found the CD replication facility visit to be a great help in understanding the various CD manufacturing processes. He can now offer another service to clients that manage him and maybe start managing larger bands with a more significant following. This information may be helpful to other musicians looking to expand their services. Tim’s client was delighted to be able to manage all of their management activities from one place. He also has two other bands that could come to him through word-of-mouth.