CD DVD Replication Explained

The difference between CD DVD Duplication and CD DVD Replication tends to cause confusion with clients. While the end result may not seem to be noticeable or of any consequence, the processes and the final product are actually very different.

The difference is important to know when you're preparing a project, because the difference between CD DVD Duplication and CD DVD Replication affects price, the product turn-time and the quality.

In short, replication is a manufacturing process that creates CD and DVD discs from scratch with the data being integral to the discs when they are made. This is much different to duplication which uses pre-manufactured CDR and DVDR discs (the "R" stands for "recordable") that have the data content added to the disc after the fact.

The Benefits of CD DVD Replication

  1. Higher quality data image than CD duplication or DVD duplication.

  2. More resilient and greater durability than duplicated discs.

  3. No playback issues.

  4. More cost-effective in larger quantities.

  5. Perceived as the standard for professional quality by consumers.

This video features our DVD5 replication line in action.

Glass Master and Stamper

The first step in the replication process is creation of the 'stamper'. While this process is highly specialized and technical, the following explanation is intended to be very basic.

  • A piece of highly polished glass is laser-etched with the digital data from the client's content master.

    Note: The data from the client's content master is not altered or changed in any way, it's strictly a transfer of data.

  • The laser-etching creates pits and lands in the glass in a tightly grouped spiral pattern emanating from the center and progressing outwards.

  • The Glass Master is then metalized, but it is far too fragile to be used to replicate discs so the data must now be transferred to another material that is resilient enough to handle the replication process.

  • The metalized Glass Master is electroformed with nickel to produce a "father" master which is a 'negative' image as it has bumps instead of pits.

  • The father master is then electroformed with nickel to produce "mother" masters which are used as 'stampers' in the injection molding process.

Injection Molding

Now that the 'stamper' has been made the replication of the CDs or DVDs can begin. Again, the process is highly specialized and technical, so the following explanation is intended to be basic.

  • Optical grade clear polycarbonate pellets are fed into an injection-molder which creates a clear CD/DVD disc in its finished size and shape.

  • During the creation of the clear disc, the injection-mold forces the molten polycarbonate up against the 'stamper' which embeds the pits and lands into the clear plastic.

  • An automated process using robotic arms with vacuum suction cups transfer the clear discs onto a conveyor line where they cool.

Metalizing and Lacquering
  • The conveyor line carries the clear discs to be 'metalized' with a very thin layer of reflective aluminum (the laser light from your CD/DVD player reflects off the aluminum layer to read the pits and lands that were embedded into the plastic in the injection-molding process).

  • For CD replication, after being metalized the disc is placed in a spin-coater which spreads a UV curable clear lacquer evenly across the newly metalized layer.

  • Not only does the lacquer protect the metalized layer but it also provides a good surface for the printing of the disc graphics by either Silkscreen printing or CMYK Offset printing.

  • For DVD5 replication, instead of having a clear lacquer coat, an additional clear DVD disc is adhered on top of the metalized layer with a bonding agent. This additional clear disc provides the surface for the printing of the disc graphics.

  • To cure the lacquer (or bonding agent) the disc is automatically placed under a high intensity Xenon lamp.

After the lacquer (or bonding agent) has passed through the curing station the discs are automatically unloaded from the replication line and stacked on spindles with a count of 150 discs per spindle.

From there the discs are taken to the CD DVD disc printing department.