LightScribe DVD and CDs

LightScribe DVDs or LightScribe CDs are special optical discs that are used for creating labels on the top surface of the discs. When a digital scrapbooking project or other digital information is stored on a DVD-R or CD-R, the labeling of the disc is important for identification purposes and easy access and retrieval.

The LightScribe labeling method cannot be used on all media. Discs that can use this labeling method require an extra top dye layer that is not usually found on recordable media. This dye layer changes when exposed to laser light and therefore a label can be created. LightScribe discs are available in the following formats: CD-R, DVD-R, DVD+R, and dual layer recordable DVDs. The usual base color of the top side of the LightScribe disc (the side that will be labeled) is gold, but other colors are also available such as red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. The actual label when it is placed onto the disc is not a colored label but rather shades of grey.

In addition to special media, in order to use the labeling option on a LightScribe DVD or LightScribe CD, a recording drive is necessary that has the LightScribe feature incorporated in it. Only the drives with the LightScribe symbol, usually on the front of the drive tray or a sticker logo elsewhere on the drive or computer, can create these types of labels on the discs. Special software to allow the labels to be created and burned is also required.

How the LightScribe DVD System Works

The labeling system works as follows:

  • A LightScribe disc is placed in a LightScribe enabled recording drive with label side up in order to record the information onto the disc.
  • After the information is recorded, the labeling software is opened and the label designed.
  • Next, the disc is taken out of the recording drive, flipped over so that the top side of the disc is pointing downwards, and then reinserted into the same drive.
  • The label is then burned or recorded (some refer to it as etching) onto the disc. (Note that it is not necessary to burn the disc with the data to be saved first. A label can be created first and the actual information to be stored added later. The two processes are separate.)

It is not known how long the LightScribe CD and DVD labels will last. Because the labeling method is dye based, fading in the long-term is a possibility. This can be caused by light exposure, elevated temperature or relative humidity, and aging of the material. The durability of the label is also uncertain and general recommendations are to handle these discs as little as possible.

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