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How Do I Choose the Best CD Printer?

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  • Written By: Patrick Roland
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2014
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A CD printer is an alternative to purchasing CD label stickers, printing them and applying them to compact discs. By either using a desktop CD printer or hiring a CD manufacturer to do the work, the artwork will be printed directly onto the compact disc and will look professional. There are a variety of choices, and choosing the best CD printer will depend on your needs and the size of the project.

The simplest way to merge art with a CD is to hire a professional CD printer. There are many companies around that take raw music files and tapes and transfer them to CD. These companies usually also print artwork on the outside of the disc. You can contact one of these organizations and get their rate for CD printing. Many times, these companies have minimum numbers of discs that customers must purchase, which might mean you must buy hundreds or even thousands of discs.

For projects that are smaller in scope, desktop CD printers usually are the best choice. These operate just like home printers, except they focus exclusively on printing CD labels. There are three main types of desktop CD printers: thermal, automatic and standalone.

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A thermal CD printer is the most advanced of the home printing options. This CD printer adheres ink directly on the surface of the CD for a professional look. This can print several hundred discs in a single run, taking 10 to 15 seconds per printing. These printers also usually are the most expensive and are good for professional projects.

An automatic CD printer utilizes inkjet technology as a way of putting art onto a disk. These models are slower and less efficient than thermal printers, but they normally are less expensive. Some automatic printers can run 20 discs at a time and take a little more than a minute per disc to print. This is considered a mid-level CD printer, because it provides a high quality image at a low cost, but it is slower. This type of printer is a good choice if you have an amateur project, such as a local band.

Standalone CD printers can utilize inkjet or thermal printing technology, but they have a much lower output. These printers allow only one disc to be printed at a time and take about two minutes per disc. This is a good choice for single-item projects, such as a disc of family photos.

With all of these printer options, you will need to supply the artwork for the label. Most printers hook up directly to a computer, just like a paper printer. Some more expensive models have built-in computers. Artwork, usually through a JPEG image, can be loaded onto the printer's program, so you will need to have some basic computer skills to successfully print CDs.

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