Labeling CD-Rs with Adhesive Labels

by Steve
(B.C., Canada)

A CD-R and a DVD-R and an adhesive label used for identifying the contents of the disc.

A CD-R and a DVD-R and an adhesive label used for identifying the contents of the disc.

I am burning some CD-Rs with a variety of files. I would like to label the discs to identify the contents of the disc and I have come across these circular adhesive labels that you print and then stick them to the CD. Do you have any opinions on the use of these labels? Are these labels safe to use on CDs?

I would recommend against the use of these and any other adhesive labels because of poor short-term performance of your CD-R and high risk of causing physical damage to the disc in the long term.

First, in the short term, an adhesive label if not perfectly centered and if not perfectly smooth will result in an unbalanced disc. CDs spin at rather high speeds and even a slight imbalance will affect performance even to the point where some or all of the disc cannot be read. The imbalance tends to be more prevalent on the outer portion of the disc.

In the long term, the components of the adhesive label such as the adhesive, the paper, and the inks, can chemically react with the disc layers and degrade them. The adhesive can start to fail over time and partially lift, causing even more of an imbalance. Also, the adhesive label and CD-R disc layers are constructed of different materials and react differently to changes in temperature and humidity. This causes stress to the disc layers and eventually the label will peel the top layers off the CD-R leading to disc failure.

Therefore, in summary, the use of adhesive labels on CDs is not a good idea and not recommended by the storage standard for optical disc media. For DVDs, these labels will cause even more of a balance problem, although delamination of disc layers is not a problem because of the different construction that DVDs have when compared to CDs.

For more information on labeling optical discs, please visit the cd storage section of the digital scrapbooking storage website.

Comments for Labeling CD-Rs with Adhesive Labels

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Oct 08, 2012
Avoid Sticky Labels on CD-Rs
by: Anonymous

I had several CD-Rs produced for me a few years ago. These were of some audio tracks for my band. We were not doing a large run and therefore went with using CD-Rs and doing duplicates instead of having the CDs manufactured. To be cost effective, we would have had to have a large minimum order of manufactured CDs and we were not planning to distribute anywhere near those amounts.

So, we went with CD-Rs and had our band graphics placed on the discs using the full circular adhesive labels. I have not heard of any complaints of the discs not working but we have noticed that several discs in our collection are delaminating and being ruined. The discs have been stored in an unconditioned environment and have seen fluctuations in temperature and relative humidity, but I was not expecting this to happen.

For those using CD-Rs as a distribution format, do not use adhesive labels. Instead, investigate ink-jet labels or thermal transfer ones. These types of labels are less harmful to your discs and can look very professional.

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