While musicians and music producers may be very knowledgeable about their industry, not many of them understand what goes into manufacturing a CD. And you can’t blame them because this isn’t something that you need to necessary understand in order to appreciate music or gain popularity from it.
However, there are a few benefits associated with understanding how compact disc manufacturing works. One of the main reasons why you should learn about it is because it shows that you have knowledge about your specific industry. With that being said, let’s take a look at all of the steps that going into manufacturing a CD.
Step 1: Pre-Mastering
This is the first step that a compact disc will go through on its way to being transformed into an album. Basically, it involves making sure that the data on a CD is up to par. It is checked to ensure that all content is neatly organized, properly edited, and fitted in a format that will allow the process to seamlessly transition towards the final phase. With that being said, let’s move on to the second phase of the process: glass mastering.
Step 2: Glass Mastering
This is the step that comes directly after pre-mastering. Essentially, this step involves taking a photosensitive layer that contains all of the details associated with the album. These details are engraved by laser. Since it is such a delicate process, it needs to be done in an area that is relatively clean.
This lessens the chances of experiencing an error. The reason it is called “Glass Mastering” is because glass is the element that is used to hold the CD master image in place while the process is happening. After this phase is over, we are ready to move on to the next very important step: electroforming.
Step 3: Electroforming
Don’t allow the name to fool you because electroforming is relatively simple to understand. Once you have gone through the pre-mastering and glass-mastering phase, you’ll want to start the molding process of electroforming. This is a step that is responsible for causing the CD to become sturdier. It encompasses taking nickel and adding a layer of it over the glass using a process known as “electrolysis”. From this point forward, all that you would need to do would be remove the nickel layer from the glass in order to have a negative duplicate of the compact disc. This is commonly referred to as the “Stamper”. Once this step is over, you’ll want to move on to something known as replication.
Step 4: Replication
Once you have generated the mold for your CD, you’ll want to replicate so that you can eventually produce it in very large volumes. This is what the replication phase is all about. Basically, something known as “liquefied polycarbonate” is mixed in with the mold. This solution will contain all of the information that is supposed to be on the CD. This process takes just seconds to complete and is similar to burning a CD on a computer.
Step 5: Metallization
This step is designed so that the CD is able to be read by various disc reading systems. The way that it occurs is by adding a thin slice of aluminum to the CD. It simply makes the disc much more readable since light bounces off of it and allows the laser to capture it much more easily.
Step 6: Printing and Varnishing
This is the step that entails the CD getting coated in a thin layer of varnish. This is design to add another layer of protection to the disc and prevent it from becoming starched or smudged. This is important because it allows the CD to become far less fragile. After this step is complete, the compact disc is ready to be printed it. Logos and artist names are usually pressed on the front by using a silkscreen. Keep in mind that the logs and front disc elements are initially created on a computer screen where they are later plastered on.
At this point, the CDs are ready to be shipped. After each compact disc has gone through the above steps, they will manually be packaged and sent to various locations where they will eventually end up in homes across the world.