Once you get involved in CD label printing you begin to realise that most users favour the inkjet printed labels for their vibrant colours and the fact that they print directly onto the disc. However it does not take long to discover the frustrations of printing inkjet labels and then smudging them! Be it a sweaty finger picking one up carelessly or a spot of rain as you pull the disc out of your pocket to hand it to a colleague, one of the reasons thermal printing has been so much more popular than inkjet is that it simply does not smudge!
BUT developers have come up with new water-resistant discs which can be printed on, left to dry, and do not smudge under any watery-duress. The technology had been dubbed WaterShield and was created by Taiyo Yuden, the inventor of recordable discs.
The discs work by having a specialised printing surface which makes the ink dry very quickly on CD labels and locks it in place, stopping it from smearing and smudging. There are two kinds of water-resistant disc currently on the market, the aforementioned WaterGuard by Taiyo Yuden and Primera and the AquaGuard brand also sold by Primera. Both Primera brands are sold under the label ‘Tuffcoat’.
But which type works better? And what is the cost effect of buying these specialised discs?
To begin with the pricing; it is possible now to get reasonably good quality discs for inkjet printers at about 30p each without shopping around too much. WaterShield and Aquaguard discs come out at about 5-10p more however they can be used in an ordinary inkjet printer so no extra cost is inflicted there!
To determine which brand works better, each one has its own pros and cons. Both work excellently well at not smudging: A damp thumb does not effect them, nor a running tap on cold or hot. It is not until you boil them that you notice any difference at all (and frankly anyone boiling their CDs is probably not that interested in playing them again!) Once boiled, both discs exhibit some almost irrelevant bleeding. The WaterShield discs, which have a glossy finish to them once printed, begin to turn slightly blue when boiled, but I feel the extreme drawback is made up for by the professional-looking finish of the gloss CD label. The AquaGuard remains matt but also does not turn a hint of blue when boiled.
So, it appears that developers have solved the problem of inkjet CD label printing: No more smudges for a little extra cost!