Disc Duplication vs Replication

FATS Digital CD, DVD and Blu Ray Duplication and Replication

The use of digital optical discs is commonplace nowadays, used by millions every day to listen to music, watch movies, or just to store data. With this use comes the need to produce copies in varying quantities, depending on the content owner’s objectives.

One of FATS Digital’s largest operations is in the production of CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs. Firstly a master disc needs to be created. Often the customer will do this however if it’s a complicated disc a reputable production company such as FATS Digital should handle this. Once a master is created and approved by the customer the choice of duplication vs. replication comes into play. Let’s look at the two options.

Disc Duplication

Duplication is generally the standard choice for smaller quantities of discs being manufactured. The supplied contents are loaded into a burning tower as a finished master disc. The information is then digitally extracted from this master disc using a laser and transferred to blank discs (also loaded into the burning tower). The information on these copies is typically verified to ensure an acceptable copy has been created. With the advent, popularity, and reduced cost of writable media, it is now possible to offer the same level of service to customers who need smaller quantity orders as well as customers who need larger quantities.

FATS Digital has invested significantly in the most advanced automated UV digital disc printing, duplication and packaging equipment. This automation, rarely found in duplication facilities, enables them to offer very comparable pricing when duplication is required. The use of digital printing also enables discs and printed paper components to include databases and variable data, which can be used for tracking, security and access control.

Disc Replication

Replication is the standard used to make large quantities of discs, generally for the entertainment markets. They are the disc of choice for the sales / rental market due to their longevity and durability. Firstly a glass master of your information is made which in turn produces “stampers” used for injection moulding the information onto a Polycarbonate substrate. Layers of resins then protect the mastered information. It is then lacquered for durability, usually screened or offset printed, and ultimately packaged. Because most of this process is automated, the cost per unit becomes an important factor and it becomes an economical option on orders generally greater than 3000 units.

The pros and cons of the above methods are the determining factors when a customer decides which of these methods to choose. Duplication is a cost effective solution for small run orders and due to the simpler process involved it can be turned around in a much quicker time. Replication however becomes a more favourable option when large quantities are involved as once the initial glass master has been made and the machines are set up for mastering an automated process takes over to speed things up – hence the higher the quantity ordered the lower the unit price. It is important to note that extra time must be factored in when getting discs replicated due to the more complicated methods involved.

Recently FATS Digital were tasked with creating 500 DVD copies of the NRL Grand Final with the aim of getting them all produced and dispatched on the same day. The master arrived at FATS at 6am on the Sunday morning after the NRL Grand Final and with the very limited time available duplication was the only viable option. The slightly higher price per disc was countered by the extremely fast turnaround that the automated printing, duplication and packaging process was able to provide. By lunchtime Sunday, 500 completed and packaged discs were dispatched to a very happy distributor.

With the replication process producing very reliable discs, it is often asked if the duplicated discs will give equally good results. Well today’s writeable media (used in the duplication process) are manufactured under much stricter guidelines than in the past. It is true that there are still many inferior brands of discs saturating the market place but by choosing a reputable duplication company that uses only professional equipment and high quality media, you should be assured of receiving a quality product.

Another feature at FATS Digital’s production facility is the use of Australia Post Disc Mailers – authorised envelopes meeting Australia Post’s strict bulk sorting requirements. They can be mailed at the standard Australia Post letter rate making them incredibly cost effective at the standard $0.70 per unit rate – a further saving to your production budget.

Although optical discs are still used daily for mass copying and it undoubtedly can be the ideal platform for distributing content to a large audience, there are other methods that have their own specific advantages and should be considered.

In the corporate world many people are turning to the USB flash drive to deliver their content. The increased capacity and massive drop in price have played enormous roles in increasing the popularity of the USB drive. It has become even more popular / important with the introduction of ultra-book laptops that do not come with optical drives. The question of duplication vs. replication is also relevant to USB drives with similar pros and cons to be considered. The USB drive can be the most suitable choice, however for distributing large quantities it should be noted that it is still a more expensive option at around 4 times the price of CD and DVD duplication.

Another area where optical discs are used is in the backing up of computer data. Faster, more robust solid-state devices are a more preferred method nowadays, though. These devices can store a lot more data and their speed and versatility makes them far more user friendly for such a task.

The Internet too has become another popular way of distributing content. The speed and reliability of today’s Internet infrastructure has seen people choosing to download music and videos, without leaving the comfort of their living room.

The introduction of free storage and delivery sites such as Dropbox has further enhanced the way we transfer data. People are now thinking about how their computer files are stored and how easily they can be transferred via the Internet. The omission of USB ports on mobile devices shows how todays’ mobile audience is using wireless technology as a matter of course. The need to find discs or drives to plug in is becoming more and more obsolete and with on-line video storage, delivery and management systems on offer by companies such as FATS Digital the possibilities are endless.

Learn more about FATS Digital’s disc duplication and replication services, here.