Welcome to Star Discs!

Whether you need audio or educational CDs, Software Packages, Promotional or Conference Discs, Presentation or Instructional DVD, Product Catalogues, e-Books, here at Star Discs we have a team of experts to help you achieve a professional high quality product, even when your quantities or budget are small.

Whether you need one copy or 100,000 copies. Star Discs will see your project right through to the end.

If you are interested in our services and would like to obtain an instant quote for your product you can do so by completing our Quotation Form.

Alternatively, please complete and submit the Enquiry Form
and one of our Sales Team will contact you to discuss your requirements within 24 hours.

We look forward to working with you.

The Star Discs Team

What are paper parts and what are they used for?

Presenting information about your product or company on CD or DVD can be very impressive, effective and inexpensive, saving you a lot of money on brochure and catalogue printing. However, to ensure a maximum impact the disc should be accompanied by high quality printed paper parts that go with the packaging of the disc or serve as the packaging.

The most common printed paper parts for CDs and DVDs are basically what we commonly call CD inserts, covers, booklets, back inlays, DVD sleeves, DVD manuals etc. All of these are inserted into appropriate packaging i.e. jewel case, PVC wallet, DVD case.

Additionally, there are types of packaging that are created using card printed with your design. These are card sleeves, 4page card wallets, 6page card wallets, hardback CD cases, DigiPaks just to name a few.

The purpose of these printed pieces is not only to enhance the look of the set but also enables you to put a message about you, your company or your product on in a very visual form. Also, if your product happens to be software then you almost certainly will need to include user guide with the disc itself. If it is music CD, we all know these are usually in jewel cases with specially designed front cover and back inlay listing all the tracks that are on the CD.

CDs are often used as promotional materials, i.e. distributed in the post. Here too, printed part in a form of CD card wallet can come handy. It allows you to use the design to get your message across and encourage recipient to look at the disc’s contents. It also protects the disc from damage in transit.

Paper parts are, at first glance, the most informative and eye catching part of your CD or DVD product. They help you stand out from the crowd.

What are the differences between printing on the disc face and printing the rest of the packaging that I should keep in mind when designing?

When the printed packaging and paper parts are printed digitally in 4 colour process (CMYK) using liquid inks and on-disc printing is done with inkjet technology, while the processes are similar, some colours—blue and orange in particular—look very different due to the different inks and different substrates. In general, the digital liquid ink prints are brighter and more saturated than their inkjet equivalents.

If matching the disc to the rest of the packaging is important to you, it is a good idea to ask for proof copies of all your items. However, because of the different processes involved it may be impossible to provide an exact match.

When discs are printed using inkjet technology or for larger runs (over 1000) silksctreened and the rest of the packaging: CD Booklets, CD inserts, digipaks, CD wallets are printed with liquid inks, using a high-quality process liquid electrostatic lithography. There are few key differences to keep in mind:

  • The tonal range that one can hold while silkscreening the discs is 15-85%. Tones lighter than 15% may blow out to zero, and those darker than 85% may fill in completely. As a result, it is recommended using very dark or very light photos on the disc.
  • High-contrast images work best. Subtle changes in tone can be lost in the silkscreening process.
  • Gradients or blends do not print well, and can look uneven or blotchy. We strongly recommend avoiding gradients or blends on the disc.
    Gradients that look smooth on CD packaging don’t translate well to the silkscreen printing process on the disc. Highlights and shadows don’t offer smooth transitions, instead dropping off dramatically and resulting in an uneven, rough-looking line.
  • Due to registration issues with silk-screening, it is impossible to print overlapping screens such as duotones or spot colour mixes (e.g., 25% PMS 115 and 65% PMS 215) on the disc.
  • The line screen on the disc is 100 lpi, which produces lower-quality images than the 200 lpi printing for the offset-printed packaging.
    Expect to lose detail and overall image quality if you print an photo on the disc.

Advantages and disadvantages of CD/DVD Inkjet printing

CD and DVD Disc Ink Jet printers have become very popular, especially for short run disc production. Ink Jet technology is used here in the same way as in paper printers – by spraying ink onto printable surface of the disc. The end result depends on the quality of the equipment and quality of the printable media surface. The Inkjet printable media has special coating applied onto the non-recordable surface that allows direct print onto it.

The advantages of Ink Jet printing over traditional CD label printing:

  • Printing directly onto disc is easier and faster than applying sticky CD labels onto many discs.
  • It is cheaper to have discs inkjet printed than to separately buy media and printed CD self-adhesive labels.
  • The label can peel off and cause damage to the drive or player. However, in case of printable discs the printable surface is part of media therefore the risk of damage to the drive is minor.
  • As most CD printers have disc alignment function, printing directly onto discs is easier than placing labels on many discs.

Inkjet disc printing provides the most cost effective solution to short to medium run and on-demand CD/DVD printing while achieving high quality results. There is no need for plates or screens here.

Even if you need a proof copy prior to the final production, on-off samples are not a problem.
Furthermore, inkjet disc printing offers flexibility that allows effective colour matching to other printed materials from the same set i.e. inserts, booklets, inlays, presentation folders etc.

Even if the artwork has a lot of fine detail and graduated tints are used the print resolution achieved is still very high.

Worth pointing out is the fact that a single CD inkjet printer can print in black and white as well as full colour (CMYK).

The main disadvantages of using inkjet printers to print onto CDs and DVDs are potential moisture damage, damage by abrasion or potential photo damage. These however can be minimised by applying a protective UV spray lacquer over the disc.

It is also good to know that the inkjet printers can only print in four colour process (CMYK) which means that Pantone colours cannot be accurately printed. However, it is possible to find a very close match to most of Pantone colours, when required.

All in all, there are far more advantages than disadvantages of inkjet printing onto CDs and DVDs.

What’s the difference between CMYK and RGB?

CMYK and RGB are two different colour models, and understanding the difference can mean producing a great-looking insert rather than a muddy, disappointing one. We’ll have to delve into a little science to explain this difference.

The RGB colour model is used by monitors, televisions, scanners, and digital cameras. A monitor uses very small bands of red, green, and blue light to generate colour. RGB is additive because when you add all three colours together, you get white light; when you turn off all three lights, you get black. By mixing varying amounts of red, green, and blue light, you can create most other colours.

However, the paper used for a magazine, CD booklet, DVD sleeve can’t generate light like a computer monitor. It relies on reflected light, and the subtractive colour model CMYK. When you add cyan, magenta, and yellow together (CMY), you get a colour close to black, and when you don’t lay down any ink, you get white—that is, the white of the paper. A fourth colour, black, is added for economical and practical reasons, and is referred to by ‘K’ so as not to be confused with blue. By mixing varying amounts of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks, you can create most other colours. All commercial, full-colour printing uses CMYK inks.

So why is the difference important? Most colours created on the RGB monitor can be duplicated using CMYK inks, but not all. As your RGB monitor is generating light, it can create some bright colours that can’t be duplicated on any CMYK printing press. Paper can only reflect light, so if you print the super-bright RGB colours in CMYK, they get a lot duller.

If you’re designing artwork in an RGB colour space, we’ll have to convert it to CMYK to print. Depending on your artwork, the colours might shift a little or a lot.

When sending artwork for printing you ought to provide all your images in CMYK. This way, if there are any colour shifts, you’ll be able to see them and take steps to correct the problem. If you supply RGB images, your prnter you make the CMYK conversion, and hopefully show you a proof. If you want to make any changes to your images at that point, your job may be delayed and incur additional charges. It’s much better for you to supply CMYK files up front.

What’s the difference between process and spot colours?

Process colour uses translucent CMYK inks laid on top of one another to fool your eye into seeing other colours. A spot colour ink is a specially-mixed hue that is not made by combining two or more inks, but rather is a single ink of a specific colour. Spot colours can be brighter or more saturated than process colours, or have special properties, such as metallic gold or fluorescent green.

Will the printing on my CD / DVD match my booklet or digipak?

All packaging is printed in HP Indigo process (CMYK) colour, while standard on-disc printing is done with inkjet inks. While the processes are similar, some colours—blue and orange in particular—look very different due to the different inks and different substrates. In general, the HP Indigo prints are brighter and more saturated than their inkjet equivalents.

If matching the disc to the rest of the package is important to you, we can provide you with proof copies of all your items, however because of the different processes involved we cannot guarantee we will be able to provide you with an exact match.

What are the differences between printing on the disc face and printing the rest of the packaging that I should keep in mind when designing?

Discs are printed with a different process than the rest of the packaging. Booklets, digipaks, and jackets are printed with HP Indigo (CMYK) inks, using a high-quality process liquid electrostatic lithography. Discs are printed either with Inkjet printers or for larger runs (over 1000) are silkscreened. There are a couple of key differences to keep in mind:

  • The tonal range that we can hold while silkscreening the discs is 15-85%. Tones lighter than 15% may blow out to zero, and those darker than 85% may fill in completely. As a result, we do not recommend using very dark or very light photos on the disc.
  • High-contrast images work best. Subtle changes in tone can be lost in the silkscreening process.
  • Gradients or blends do not print well, and can look uneven or blotchy. We strongly recommend avoiding gradients or blends on the disc.
    Gradients that look smooth on CD packaging don’t translate well to the silkscreen printing process on the disc. Highlights and shadows don’t offer smooth transitions, instead dropping off dramatically and resulting in an uneven, rough-looking line.
  • Due to registration issues with silk-screening, we cannot print overlapping screens such as duotones or spot colour mixes (e.g., 25% PMS 115 and 65% PMS 215) on the disc.
  • The line screen on the disc is 100 lpi, which produces lower-quality images than the 200 lpi printing for the offset-printed packaging.

Here is a comparison of a photo printing on a booklet and printing on a disc. The image on the disc loses details in the piano player’s coat, and the highlight on his head. The subtle variations in the background images are also lost. Expect to lose detail and overall image quality if you print an photo on the disc.

How to Make you DVDs Stay In Good Shape

There are several ways of making sure your DVDs remain useable. Some we already know such as, handling the disc by the edges. Always keep it dust free by putting it back in its case or sleeve. The data side always needs to be kept away from any oil based substances, fingerprints or anything that can leave a residue. Most importantly, keep DVDs away from constant sunlight, heat and anything that could scratch them. However, unlike the old VHS cassettes, magnetic signals and strong electrical fields can not affect discs. These do affect videotapes, credit cards or floppy discs.

DVDs will get worn/dirty after time and there are products to clean discs. There are plenty of cleaning kits you can find online. However, soap and water can do the trick or rubbing in alcohol. Remember, anything acidic or corrosive should not be used. You should use a lint-free cloth and very gently wipe the data side of the DVD. A light brushing motion starting from the hub/centre of the disc, rubbing outwards.

As with CDs, it’s not the data on the DVD that gets scratched from use or neglect but the plastic outer coating that protects the data. Therefore, the scratch dissects the path, which the laser must travel in order to be read. To repair these scratches on the plastic, you can fill the scratches or rub them down with optical material. As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of cleaning/repairing kits online that one can use for this. Or even your regular toothpaste will sort it out!

What Is Correct File Format & Artwork Specification to use?

There are several different file formats/programs you can supply your artwork for CD/DVD printing and packaging/cover designs. I would like to just touch on a few most commonly used. Nearly all printers accept high resolution PDFs. You can use Adobe Acrobat to create a PDF file from your artwork. Remember to embed the fonts too!

The most commonly acceptable native file formats accepted are:

  • Quark Express
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Coreldraw
  • If you have photos or images to print then the following formats best suit these:

  • TIFF (.tif)
  • Adobe Photoshop (.psd)
  • Illustrator EPS (.eps)
  • Windows Bitmaps (.bmp)
  • Corel Photo-Paint (.cpt)
  • JPEG (.jpg)
  • It is strongly recommend that artwork should not be solely created in Photoshop. This program is ideal for altering photos and adding effects to images. Publisher and Word are also programs to avoid creating artwork in. If you do supply artwork in these formats, prepare to be charged for converting them into print-ready artwork. Establishments will charge for time spent. Therefore, do it yourself!

    Your files should also be created in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Black) and at 300dpi resolution - as quality is important! Anything less than 300dpi will result in poor quality print. Remember that printers/presses can only print from artwork supplied.

    Most print companies will have templates or guidelines to adhere to when designing specific artwork. These range from simple flyers, postcards, and posters to more complex manuals, DVD booklets, CD inlays & covers as well as information for printing onto CD/DVD’s or creating labels. I will go into more detail about these at a later stage.

    Also, other tips to look out for when supplying artwork for print are insufficient bleeds or safety margins. Bleed is extending any colour, image, photo or design past the cut line. Bleed also helps printers with a margin of error when trimming. Normally, it’s acceptable to add 2mm of bleed to your designs/layouts. The opposite of bleeds is safety margin. Placing an important header/title or image/photo right next to this crop line, then you risk it being slightly cut off. The recommendation is that you allow for 3mm inside the crop marks.

    Choosing a good designer - What to look for?

    Let’s face it, it’s never going to be an easy task looking for a good designer. There are a lot of affordable graphic designers that are readily available but more often than not, they are out for good references. This market can be quite confusing. The question is – what is the correct graphic design?

    Anyone can work with PhotoShop but does this make him or her a good designer? There are all sorts of graphic design qualifications that can be obtained – this, too, doesn’t necessarily mean you are a good designer. Design is being, an object, an organism……an entity.

    Graphic design tells us a visionary story. It’s the way we react to it psychologically and the way we associate ourselves with designs by forms and colours. Designs need to communicate and reflect customer’s visions, needs and profile. At the same time, the design needs to separate the customer from their rivals. For example, a when printing onto a CD, the design should be easy to duplicate and reapply (Mass duplicating CD/DVD’s with the same image etc).

    The customer will submit an outline of ideas of which, a good designer must be creative with. There’s no point in being over creative, designs also need to be put into context. While all this needs to be taken onboard, most importantly, a good designer will have to cope with financial and time constraints. A good designer would have mastered all of these areas.

    Customers have control of how their own business works. The customer can always get caught up too much in the thought process, as they are heavily involved in the project. That’s why it’s always good to have someone with fresh eyes to see things that the customer may have over-looked.

    “Innovation” is a word commonly used by a lot of companies – either in brochures, magazines or on websites. There’s a difference between being innovative and creative. Being creative means getting the best of the given outlines/constraints. Being innovative means thinking above and beyond the given limitations/boundaries.
    A good designer will know what vital questions to ask customers. A bond and trust needs to develop between the designer and the customer. Once this has been establish, then together the boundaries can be broken.

    A good designer of course needs inspiration, creativity and motivation is also the key. Most importantly a good designer needs to be in touch with what’s going on around. In-tune to what is evolving – this will need to be passed on to the customer who may not be aware. This happens a lot.

    A good designer needs to take into account a customer’s strategy, and market position. The design needs to generate sales, revenue and get the point across to their target market. Choose wisely, choose carefully is my advice.

    There are a few factors to consider if your design is for a CD/DVD label or, if it’s for paper-based materials. CD printing is a different process to paper or sheet printing. The print heads and inks are different. A CD or DVD usually has a plastic white-faced surface area. The design for a CD label or a DVD label has to account for the centre hole in the disc. Take for example, if a project involves a CD in a colour card wallet. Usually, the designs on both are the same. The designer should point out to the client that the colours will differ on the CD to that on the card wallet

    Which CD/DVD Packaging best suits my needs?

    Corporate clients have the most interesting ideas for promoting products/concepts on CDs or DVDs. These tend to be the more creative/specialist packaging ideas. If you are at a conference/seminar where CDs & DVDs are handed out, the packaging for this tends to be more standard. For example, if you are mailing CDs or DVDs then you will need more durable/robust packaging e.g. slimline jewel cases, cardboard sleeves, clam/shell cases, trigger cases. It’s best if a list is compiled of each sorts of packaging with a description of where they would be best used.

    There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the correct packaging. If your CD or DVD is being used as a marketing tool, then these tend to be handed out for free or mailing.

    You may be doing a promotion to launch your product. Say for example an album - you may have an audio CD with a couple of tracks to be sent to a record company – in this case it is standard that a slimline case, with a printed CD front or colour insert would be ideal. If you have an audio album compilation, then a standard jewel case, which accommodates a front booklet and a rear tray liner/inlay card, is the only suitable option. Audio CDs can come in pretty much any of the wide range of packaging options. If you were giving out your music at the end of a gig, then a cheaper, more effective solution would be to hand out your CD inside a PVC wallet with a colour insert to act as a wrap for the CD.

    For a software CD or DVD – DVD cases/boxes are more commonly used. These protect the CD/DVD very well and look more professional with a printed sleeve/wrap to act as a cover along with a printed/burnt image on the CD/DVD.
    These DVD cases come in different sizes, e.g. slimline cases, short-spine cases, multi-way cases (holds several CDs & DVDs and is perfect when duplicating CD/DVD’s for mass distribution). DVD cases can hold booklets inside the front cover too. These act as manuals or user guides to accompany the CD/DVD.

    If you are handing CDs or DVDs out at a conference or seminar then, the clam/shell cases are more than suitable as they provide protection and can easily be put inside one’s pocket.

    If your CD or DVD needs to accompany a manual or ring binder, then one would use a self-adhesive plastic wallet. This would be stuck inside either front or back covers of the finished document.

    If you want your product to make an impact and stand out from the rest, then there are more bespoke packaging solutions. A few examples are:

  • Hard back cases – Looks like a book but has a tray inside to hold a CD and DVD
  • Leather Effect Cases – Same principal as the hard back but with leather effect cover
  • DigiPak – These are made of a thicker board and acts as a soft book. You will find these with many albums you purchase in music stores. Gives a nice smooth, professional finish.
  • Different Types of Packaging

    There are standard CD/DVD printing and packaging styles and products, which are recognised in the audio and corporate markets. As we become more concerned for our environment and climate changes, this has prompted the use of recycled products. These mainly include the paper/board-based products from sustainable forests. There are more and more innovative packaging ideas being brought to boardroom meetings which has resulted in a comprehensive choice of creative packaging.

    CD/DVD packaging range from card based products which can be Matt/Gloss laminated, varnished sealed, Matt/Gloss UV, Embossed, foil blocked and special die-cuts. There are also many plastic based CD/DVD packaging ideas, which can hold up to several CDs/DVDs, ideal for storing CD/DVD’s when copying.

    These have come from clients who have products that need to sell or capture the imagination of their customers or target markets. Some packaging are more suited to say mailing CDs/DVDs due to their robust material which protects the CD or DVD and others which are better for display the CD/DVD’s printed design and to promote the product. There are plenty of packaging solutions on offer and more are still being dreamt up.

    The following are the names and types of standard CD or DVD packaging most commonly used:

  • CD Cases
  • Jewel Case
  • Slimline Cases
  • Trigger Case
  • CD Clam/Shell Cases
  • DVD boxes
  • Maxi Single Cases
  • Plastic/PVC Wallets
  • CD & DVD Multi cases
  • 4 page/6 page Card wallets
  • The following are special/creative packaging solutions:

  • Digistack Style Cases
  • Maltese Cross Pack
  • Gatefold Wallet
  • CD Digipak
  • Printed Card Wallets/Sleeves
  • CD Tins
  • Leather Effect Bound CD/DVD Cases
  • Hardback CD/DVD Cases
  • Slip Cases