Automated disc printers-also known as autoprinters- perform automatic
load and print on CD, DVD and Blu-ray discs without the intervention of
a user. In most auto disc printers, a disc printer and a robotic loading
mechanism are combined together. They provide the visual presentation
of the disc without human interaction or any outsourcing. These disc devices
are a print-only operation; no burner drives are included in comparison
with publisher and duplicator.
Auto disc printers can be made small enough to fit on a desktop and have
the capacity to handle short-run volumes at a disc input of approximately
50 to 300 pieces per session. Auto printers for professionals are built
larger, can take up a few square feet, weigh more than 100 pounds and
operate at a disc input of 300 to 1,000 or more discs per run.
Depending on your system settings print speeds can be changed, however
most printers generally take between 30 and 120 seconds per full-coverage
CD, DVD and Blu-ray autoprinters operate through a computer with a parallel
or USB connection.
The printer's robotics is made of a picking arm to move the disc from
input to output functions. The user only needs to stack the discs in the
input bin and upload them when the printing is done. The robotic arm of
the transporting mechanism rotates through the use of belt drives or screws.
This technology however, is always evolving for faster performance.
CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays are softly picked up from the robotic arm's gripper
hub feature which grasps the center hole of the disc. A disc release button
allows control over the function of the gripper by determining its lock
and release moments. A sensor built on or near the robotic arm will confirm
correct alignment properties to ensure printing within the designated
disc area. These moving parts work together to prevent imbalanced printing,
double feeding of discs and other errors that may occur with the printing
process or physical properties of the discs.
Aside from the mechanics, the actual print technology may vary for each
automatic machine. In the consumer market, Inkjet and thermal printing
are introduced among leading manufacturers. Inkjet is a high resolution,
well-worth option that prints vivid color and sharp text on discs. Thermal
autoprinters are choice for unmatched color consistency of media requiring
full disc, photographic quality.
Manual disc printers are designed to carry through low to mid-volume
of direct disc printing with assisting operator. Manual printers manage
a single CD, DVD or Blu-ray for input. These printers take more time since
the discs need to be loaded and unloaded every time from the printer's
disc tray. They tend to be compact, portable and light-weight devices.
Manual disc printers require a computer and USB connection to work. Inkjet
and thermal are two main types of manual printers. Simply, inkjet performs
high-resolution printing in cost effective way and thermal printing uses
film ribbons to render images and text onto surface of a disc. Manual
printers need operator's labor to load and unload discs.
Inkjet printing is a print method that can render photographic-quality
images and text using microscopic drops of ink. The ink is sprayed from
tiny nozzles by applying heat or electrical charge as well as pressure.
Inkjet printing has been improved and developed for consumer and commercial
If a user chooses inkjet printing method, one must use discs with a surface
compatible to the ink, otherwise smearing and smudging may occur. CD,
DVD and Blu-ray discss with printable surfaces will benefit from the high
quality of inkjet printing.
Inkjet CD, DVD or Blu-ray printing is intended for both consumer and commercial
purposes. An at-home consumer will pay a few hundred dollars for an inkjet
printer that serves smaller session of disc printing.
Inkjet printers need a shorter warm-up time than other printing technologies.
Printing one disc may take up to four to five minutes, so this method
suits for smaller orders of printed discs. If time is short or deadlines
are approaching, other printing methods may be better suited. Moreover,
color matching can be a challenge with inkjet because of its absence of
Pantone color palette.
There are two types of inkjet technologies: continuous inkjet (CIJ) and
drop-on-demand (DOD). Drop-on-demand also has two different methods. Both
types of DOD methods are more commonly used than CIJ technology.
For continuous inkjet (CIJ), a continuous stream of ink is supplied to
the printer's head unit by a pump and piezoelectric nozzle cycle. A gutter
near the medium's surface gets extra ink droplets and returns the rest
of ink to a waste ink tank.
Like its name suggests, drop-on-demand uses less ink than its CIJ counterpart
by spraying only the necessary amount onto the disc at hand. Fewer parts
are also required to force the ink through the printer system and on to
the disc's surface.
The two methods of drop-on-demand include thermal and piezoelectric processes.
Thermal drop-on-demand heats a resistor, a conductive part. The increase
of heat makes air bubble, which in turn, pushes the ink forward and out
of the nozzle opening.
The piezoelectric method of drop-on-demand uses expanding crystals and
electrical currents to drive the ink toward the nozzle's opening to release
it drop by drop. The composition of crystals produces an electrical field
when they are charged. This accounts for the crystal enlargement.
DPI- Dots Per Inch
Printers print by putting ink or toner onto paper. Inkjets have nozzles
that spray small drops of ink, while laser printers melt dots of toner
against the paper. The more dots you can squeeze into a square inch, the
sharper the resulting image will be. So, the most common printer spec
shows dots per inch, or dpi.
Ink & Toner
The DPI numbers can be trumped by the use of different inks. Because
laser printers use toner to print, it wont bleed into the paper and give
a sharper looking result than inkjet when it is print for black-and-white
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