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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Printing Services Provide Options for CD Pressing and CD Cases

A client recently asked me about CD duplication. He also wanted 4-color printed sleeves for the CD’s. I contacted a few of the business printing vendors I work with regularly. Perhaps you can learn from the following synopsis of my experience.

First of all, this is specialty work. Although most printing companies can produce some sort of sleeve for a CD, the duplication itself is something only a limited number of vendors will do. I contacted a “premium item” or “promotional product” company first: a vendor that specializes in novelties such as pens, mugs, custom print t-shirts, hats, etc., emblazoned with company names and logos. This business printing vendor had a source, a subcontractor that duplicated CD’s.

I also contacted one of the larger offset printing companies I know, a “consolidator,” with printing presses across the United States. They do almost everything in at least one of their various plants, including CD pressings.

So you have a few options if you need to duplicate a CD: ask around for specialty (or novelty, or promotional) printing companies, look for a huge printing family that owns companies in multiple locations, or (and here’s a third option I didn’t pursue) check the Internet.

What You Will Need to Consider and/or Discuss with the Printing Services?

  • Start with the CD. How many do you need? CD duplication is rather painless. You do it yourself one at a time on your own computer, dragging files from your hard drive to your DVD or CD burner. This is just the automated version for reproducing hundreds or thousands of copies from one master CD.
  • Will you want to print on the CD? Most likely the answer will be yes. Dedicated inkjet equipment can do this in 4-color inks directly on the disc. It is called an “imprint.” Screen printing is another option (for spot colors). For process color work, some printing companies even have special offset presses that hold CD’s in trays, so the pressure of the offset rollers does not damage the plastic discs. Printing directly on the CD is infinitely preferable to printing on a label and then affixing the label to the disc. After all, if the label starts to peel off, it can destroy the CD player.
  • Then there’s the box, jacket, sleeve, or whatever else you would call it. If you will be producing inserts for a “jewel case,” that’s pretty straightforward (flat slips of paper the business printing company will insert appropriately into the plastic box).
  • However, if you will be producing a cardboard sleeve, be clear about the dimensions. Is your sleeve just the front and back (two pieces of printed cover stock with appropriate tabs for gluing)? Does it have a fold-over flap? Your custom printing provider may ask for a “dieline,” which is an accurate drawing showing all the panels of the CD jacket, the flaps, folds, glue-tabs, etc. It is used to make the die, which cuts the printing paper into the proper shape to be used to glue together the CD case. It would save you money to ask the printer about using an existing die. In this case, you would ask to match the printer’s dieline.
  • Keep in mind that in most cases your job will be “gang-run” with many other cardboard CD cases laid out on the press sheet. Therefore, the color fidelity will not be 100 percent accurate. You are sacrificing a little quality to save money by sharing the press run with other clients. To be sure you’re comfortable with the quality the custom printing service can produce, request samples before you sign the contract. You may also want to check references.

In most cases, CD printing companies will provide you with a per-unit cost for copying the CD (based on the press run, such as $3.06 per unit for 500-999 copies, and $2.30 per unit for 1000 to 2499 copies), imprinting the CD (printing graphics and text directly on the disc), plus producing the CD case or sleeve. Don’t forget to ask about shipping charges. Also, make sure assembly charges (putting the CD in the case) are included in the custom printing estimates.

PIE has a CD/DVD replication/duplication form you might want to check out:

2 Responses to “Printing Services Provide Options for CD Pressing and CD Cases”

  1. cd printing says:

    I think putting up a business like this is a success. Why? Because a lot of people nowadays can create their own personal data through CD’s, and they want their print design personalized, too. Thanks for this. I know what kind of good business I have in my mind.


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