Thank you for your question.
Not only do I do this on a weekly basis in my home office, but while
Director of Marketing for a small medical manufacturer, I produced my
own short run CD's for updates for our customers. I feel extremely
qualified to advise you and I have developed very strong opinions on
the various parts of this process that I shall share with you.
As you note, one major advantage of producing these yourself is that
you can produce exactly the number of copies you desire. Although you
might feel that your data is "fixed" today, you may be surprised to
find that in a few days, weeks or months, you will have a need to add,
delete or modify a file and obsolete the unused copies you might have
on hand. This will not happen when you are duplicating your discs in
house and you will enjoy the flexibility to make changes if and when
needed without waste.
The art of consumer CD duplication products has reached a plateau at
52X speed for CD Recordable drives. It is unlikely that this speed
will increase for CD's in the future. And, 52X speed does not mean
that this speed is reached and sustained throughout the entire burning
process, but rather a 52X drive might start at 24 or 28X speed and
work its way up to its maximum as the burning process continues. You
will find that an average 80 minute / 700 MB CD will burn at between
2.5 and 3 minutes per copy, plus the time to eject,insert and start
the software for burning.
Now, you mention your files are text. If that is the case, you will
very likely have much less than 700 MB to burn per disc as text files
are very small. Perhaps not, but if so, your burning time will be
significantly less and could be as little as 1-1.5 minutes per disc.
This will be determined by the size of the total files you include on
Over the years I have used virtually every label system available.
None are very good. The inexpensive "standard" inkjet labels are of
low resolution and use poor glue. Over time, they will separate from
the disc. And they do not produce what I would consider to be a
There are also "Photo Glossy" labels and among the best of these are
made by Stomp. They do have excellent graphic qualities, much better
stickiness, but are very expensive. You will find they cost about .50
per label PLUS the cost of ink, which we will talk about shortly. And
while they last much longer than the inexpensive inkjet labels, I have
still had them "peel" after time rendering the disc next to unusable
at worst and unprofessional at best.
There have been two methods for printing directly to disc over the
years - inkjet and thermal. The professional disc you buy are either
silk-screened or thermal. The equipment for this is very costly. Until
last year, even inkjet printers have been excessively priced for the
small office. But this changed with the introduction of two Epson
printers - the Epson Stylus Photo 900 and the new Epson Stylus Photo
R300M. I have the 900. It can be purchased for under $150!!
I would expect other models and other brands to show up on the market,
but for now, these are the most affordable and they produce excellent
results. You can search for "CD printer" and uncover other products,
but the Epson is tried and true. But here is an example of other
models and package deals:
Nextag shows 409 CD printers here:
Now, to use these printers, you need to use inkjet printable CD-R
discs. There are several popular brands, but by far the best is made
by Taiyo Yuden. This company OEM's to other vendors, such as Sony and
makes not only fine quality discs that record well, but the absolute
best surface for inkjet printing. They are available with White or
Silver printable surfaces, and the white will produce a brighter,
more vibrant photo realistic image.
See here, for example:
So, you will find that a per disc cost for these will run .33 to .40
per disc. It is almost impossible to guess what your ink costs will be
due to the nature of the graphics you wish to print on each disc, but
I shall guess. A set of cartridges for the Epson 900 at a discount
will run about $40. You will be able to print between 100 and 200
discs per set of cartridges, perhaps more. My best guess will be that
your ink cost per disc will be between .15 and .30 per disc - less
than half the cost of a quality label and ink and without all the
drawbacks of labels.
The software that comes with the Epson printer for label design and
printing is very good. You will have a small learning curve to get
professional results and will print maybe 10 discs that will not line
up properly until you calibrate and learn the proper settings for your
printer. After that, printing should go smoothly and take 4 or 5
minutes per disc to print. Depending on how many computers you
dedicate to this process, you will either be burning on one computer
and printing on another, or performing the tasks in a serial manner.
With time to load, burn, unload, set in the printer, print and sleeve,
once you are setup it should take between 5 and 9 minutes total per
disc to produce. In other words, one person can make between 6 and 12
per hour. These are rough estimates, but I would be surprised if they
are far off at all.
So, we have let's say .35 per disc, .25 for ink, let's say 2.00 for
labor and perhaps .15 for each sleeve
(http://www.sleevetown.com/tyvek-cd-sleeves.shtml ) and you have a
total cost of $2.75 per disc or close to. It "could" turn out to be as
low as $ 1.80 per disc. And you have little waste, print and burn on
demand and the flexibility to change your product at your own whim.
Hardware and software:
You will need one or two computers for this process and should not be
using these for anything but these tasks (at least as regards burning)
while doing your burn and print. They can be used for other things at
other times and do not have to be fancy, high powered machines. They
can cost as little as $250-300 each and you may already have computers
you can use.
A CD burner will cost between $50 and $100 for the best available.
Plextor is very highly regarded as is ASUS and several others. I use
an ASUS and I am very pleased.
These will "usually" come with "light edition" software packages,
which should be all you need. The two most popular are ROXIO's EZ CD
and Nero burning Rom, both good and easy to learn, particularly for
this purpose. Your computer if a Dell or HP for example, may have even
come bundled with a version of these products.
There are other little embellishments you might wish such as free
utilities to cause your disc to "autorun" or play when it is inserted
into a CD burner. I use Autorun Pro:
With this, your CD could automatically open up a text file, or menu or
introduction to your discs.
Now, to compare with outsourcing, let's look at a few alternatives:
Core Media Group
1,000 Retail Ready CDs with full color inserts $1,190!
See more pricing for them here:
CDROM 2 Go
Four Color (CMYK) Digital Printing
Tray Insert - One Panel - Two Page
Slim Line, and Insertion
$50 Setup Fee
100 $ 2.99 ea.
200 $ 2.69 ea.
350 $ 2.49 ea.
500 $ 2.29 ea.
750 $ 1.99 ea.
1,000 $ 1.79 ea.
Mixonic (as you mentioned)
Mixonic offers the easiest way to have your CDs duplicated!
Best option for shorter runs or if you need CDs fast
Direct color-printed CDs and inserts
Low Prices, no set-up fees
2 Business Day Turnaround (orders under 500 CDs)
Optional Print-only CD-Rs (burn yourself)
Free Online Content Storage
Entirely Web-Based 24/7 Ordering
Duplication in any quantity - No Minimums
add between .05 -.15 for tyvek sleeves to these prices.
As you can see, there are almost unlimited vendors out there to do
this for you and a wide range of prices. My Google search "CD
duplicator" received almost 1,000,000 hits! You may find a service
that has the quality you desire at a comfortable price and with good
turnaround time. You loose the ability to change things almost
instantly by doing this in house. It is a choice you will have to
Here are a number of other links that might be of interest to you on
duplication hardware and duplication vendors:
CD Freaks forums
"...To be honest I understand there is a lot of duplication houses out
there that charge a dollar or whatever, but I have tried those places,
they use cheap media, they don't deliver on time at all and there is a
bundle of problems,..."
CD Media World Forums
Epson photo stylus
taiyo yuden white inkjet
cd +duplication OR duplicator +forum OR discussion OR comparison
I trust my research has provided you with background on CD duplicating
and choices and I hope this has been helpful for you.
I realize this is a complex subject and if a link above should fail to
work or anything require further explanation or research, please do
post a Request for Clarification prior to rating the answer and
closing the question and I will be pleased to assist further.