In-House Duplication

When you want to take control, in-house duplication will provide you with the building blocks to complete nearly any copied disc task. By taking this do-it-yourself route for duplication, you're making an investment. For starters, you'll have to buy duplicator towers, disc printers, disc publishers, recordable media, packaging, printing supplies and more. Purchasing disc duplication equipment and supplies should be considered if you're a frequent user of this reproduction process or if you'd like to make it your business. However you use it, in-house disc duplication could add up to big savings for you when done correctly.

Before you embark on do-it-yourself CD, DVD or Blu-ray reproduction, you must calculate if you have the workspace required to store not only equipment, but also supplies, ongoing inventory and the ability to function freely within that area.

The proper foundation to in-house duplication lies in the equipment-the final result of copied discs heavily relies on the quality and type of duplicator you use. Some brands to look into for disc reproduction equipment include Accutower, Microboards, Rimage, Primera, Epson, and TEAC. You must evaluate your business needs and limitations in order to decide from the following duplicator versions:

Automated Disc DuplicatorAutomated disc publisher - a multipurpose CD, DVD or Blu-ray duplicator typically connected to a computer that will automatically load up to 100 discs at a time, and through the use of a robotic arm, will transfer the disc from the machine's duplication function to its on-disc printing function. Its dual capabilities minimize the effort and time spent on your part to assemble and reassemble duplicated discs into a separate printer. Prices for automated publishers range anywhere from $1,300 to $50,000 MSRP depending on the model and brand.

Automated disc duplicator - a hands-free machine that loads and copies your project data from a master disc to a recordable CD, DVD or Blu-ray. The disc autoloaders will also unload the copies when the project is completed. It does not use printing. These duplicators can handle up to 1,000 discs at a time and primarily are seen as equipment that does not require a computer OS to operate. MSRP for automated duplicators ranges from $600 to $12,000.

Standalone tower CD/DVD duplicator - a disc duplicator resembling a tower unit that will copy up to 50 discs at once, but will not function as an automated piece of equipment. Towers can also support Blu-ray. Insert the master disc in the reader drive, and by hand, load and unload the discs into subsequent burner trays. Manual standalone towers work without a computer connection and range in price from $200 to $3,600 MSRP.

Depending on the manufacturer or distributor, a few upgrades can be built into the equipment including CSS copy protection, software and operating systems plus warranty and service options.

In the event that you don't purchase or require a disc publisher, there are separate printers on the market for rendering artwork on the surfaces of multiple discs. Disc printers for short-run and other duplication projects are generally hands-free in their operation once initial loading is completed. Some disc printer brands include Epson, Primera, Rimage, Microboards and TEAC.

Your production needs will rely on one of two printing methods-inkjet or thermal printing. Inkjet uses vivid color saturation and high resolution to generate photographic quality prints by using technology that pumps millions of ink droplets out of print nozzles through heat or electrical charge. Inkjet auto-loading disc printers range from $200 to $5,400 in price.

Thermal disc duplication printers provide single or full colored artwork that's neatly and evenly distributed on a disc's surface by applying heat and pressure to the machine's film color ribbons that subsequently transfer the images directly on to a CD, DVD or Blu-ray. Thermal printers provide fast yet top-notch image quality while getting you the most for your money. A thermal disc autoprinter will price anywhere between $2,000 and $30,000.

Additionally, you may have to purchase printer accessories like a kiosk, which functions as a loading and catch tray that's inserted into the printer. Ribbon racks for your thermal printing are used in order to make switching out old ribbons for new ones easier. Whether you use a disc publisher or a separate automated printer, you need to be aware that you will rack up incremental costs the more you use ink cartridges, thermal ribbons and blank discs-and those are just the basics for disc duplication.

DVD CasesIf you want to provide comprehensive service along with standard in-house duplication, you will need extra supplies to provide packaging and labels for an overall polished product. That means you will need to decide on which type of custom packaging matches your budget and the services you want to offer.

For example providing standard, easily identified jewel cases for CDs and Amaray cases for DVDs can set your project on the right track. From there, incorporating other packaging like mailers and sleeves will enhance the versatility of your custom services. However cases are only half the battle of packaging. Printing also extends from the disc to inserts and case covers which suggest that you will need a compatible printer and software templates for insert sheets. It is possible to bypass cases and inserts through the use of cake boxes and spindles-packaging which anchors the disc from its center hub through the use of a metal or plastic rod.

Labor is another cost issue that you must contend with for in-house CD/DVD/Blu-ray reproduction and several factors determine your decision to use it. Are your duplication orders small enough to be completely handled by you, or do you have the time to single-handedly undertake larger orders? If not, you may need to consider employing extra help. Labor considerations can also be calculated in the investment of automated versus manual duplicators and printing equipment. If you do not invest in automated equipment, you may be using those extra dollars you saved on the manual version to inevitably hire an individual who can load and operate them.

When your in-house duplication offers extended services, you may need to hire people that are skilled in graphic design and its software if you lack the time or proficiency to design disc artwork, inserts and case covers. Furthermore, there is time and labor involved in assembling duplicated discs and their inserts into proper packaging.

Depending on the size and budget of your in-house disc duplication enterprise, you may need to even consider hiring for managerial positions to oversee those performing operations if you do not have the time or willingness to do it yourself. Consequently, every choice you make in the initial building of your in-house duplication will ultimately affect your equipment, supply, service and labor costs.

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