Explanation of Replication vs. Duplication: An Abbreviated Version
Duplication or Replication? Digital or Silk-Screen labels? Which is best for your CD or DVD Project? One of the questions we’re frequently asked by Clients is to explain the difference between duplication and replication. Both result in multiple copies of a disc, but the two processes are very different. It’s important to know that there is no real quality difference between duplicated or replicated discs. Both are quality controlled and bit for bit verified as being identical to the original master. The choice between duplication and replication is more a function of quantity and/or turn time rather than quality.
The following is a brief overview of the differences between the Duplication and Replication processes, as well as the available methods for printing disc labels and packaging.
Duplication is the process through which you "burn" the original content file from the master to a recordable CD or DVD. It is a faster method of production than replication, but is generally utilized for orders up to 1000 CDs, or when time is of the essence.
Replication is a manufacturing process that creates CD’s or DVD’s through injection molding. From the original master, a "glass master" is created. From that, a "stamper" is made that fits into the mold, and transfers the information from the original master to the disc that has just been molded. This process becomes cost efficient in quantities of 1000 or more. Replication has a longer lead-time than duplication, requiring 7 to 10 days for production after the master has been received, and the proof for the screen imprint has been approved.
Commercial disc manufacturers have several methods for printing packaging for CD’s and DVD’s. Digital printing provides a full color, quick turn option that can be used for projects of any size, but is generally used when the requirements are under 1000 units. Offset printing is generated from film and is most common when printing packaging for projects requiring 1000 units or more.
The two primary methods for printing the artwork that goes on the disc itself are digital-offset and silk-screening. The digital printing method offers the highest quality of the two choices. When using the digital printing method, the label art is printed onto a thin gloss stock adhesive label that is applied to the disc. Digitally printed labels are created directly from electronic artwork saving the cost and time of out-putting film. If the disc is combined with other color components such as presentation kits, digitally printed labels and components will more closely match the quality of process printing.
Ultimately, the method for making copies of your CD or DVD and the processes used to print your labels and packaging is driven by your quantity, schedule, budget and the desired finished look.