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CD Recording Media - Writing and labelling the disc

The top plastic layer on a pressed disc is pretty sturdy - not as durable as the thicker bottom layer, but pretty good especially when it has a nice coat of silk-screen ink on it. An erasable is usually pretty good in this respect as well; not as resistant to mistreatment as a pressed disc, but a lot better than a typical CD-R. A write-once blank may have a durable top surface added or not. A durable surface, like one advertised for 'long life' or used to support ink-jet printing, is still much more vulnerable to scratches than is the top of a pressed disc, but the least expensive blanks, with no additional protection or surface printing, are the most fragile of all.


In general, if you want to write onto an uncoated disc, you should use a pen made for the purpose. TDK has one available for about $3. Many uncoated discs will take writing from the felt-tip (not the metal-sheathed ultra-fine) Sharpie, but there is a slight risk that the solvent in the Sharpie's ink can etch some plastics which may be used. Other pens may well be safe, but why not hedge your bets and either find out from your medium's manufacturer or stick with something made for the purpose? As for pencils and ballpoints: you might as well use a dentist's drill or a sandblaster.


Another option is to apply an adhesive-coated paper label such as are available from Avery, Neato, Stomper and others. That's a fine solution, but there are some risks. Obviously, the label needs to be pretty well centered to avoid problems in high-speed readers. Also obviously, you don't want loose adhesive to foul up your reader or its optics. However, the biggest problem is the adhesive used. It must not let go. If it does, the label will peel away in part, snag in the drive and potentially peel some of the adjacent plastic layer. And that is disaster. If you scratch the thick layer moderately, there will probably be no effect at all. But an uncoated disc has a remarkably thin upper layer and even a tiny scratch or hole will disrupt the metal layer below; a disturbed reflecting layer means no reflections, which means no data - dead disc.



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