Explosive listening?
December 8, 2009 12:23 AM   Subscribe

Would spraying a stick-on (paper) CD label with artists' fixative make the disc unsafe to play?

I've illustrated the label for a kind of wintry mix CD for a friend in mechanical pencil. In my experience, these don't get too terribly smudgy, but they aren't immune to fading and a bit of scuffing. Is it completely insane to spray the paper with artists' fixative (ethanol, hydrocarbon propellants, ethyl acetate), let dry, peel off the label, affix it to a burned CD, and expect said disc to not explode or burst into flames when played?
posted by katje to Media & Arts (7 answers total)
I think it'd be fine. You're not adding enough mass to worry about making the disk unbalanced; the label is on the non-laser side of the disk; reading a CD doesn't use any significant laser power anyway.

In the distant past there were worries that using e.g. a permanent marker on a CDR would soak through the disk and mess up the data (the actual data layer is close to the label side of the disk; the laser beam goes through most of the thickness of the disk when it reads it). But I'd think that the dried fixative would be pretty inert and non-dissolvy.
posted by hattifattener at 12:37 AM on December 8, 2009

hattifattener is right, but do it after you burned it. CD burning goes at much higher speeds than playing, and IIRC the maximum speed of 52x or so is limited by mechanical vibrations in the disk, that you'll almost certainly affect.
posted by gijsvs at 1:40 AM on December 8, 2009

You should be fine for CDs. For DVDs, sticking paper labels on at all can drastically reduce readability and increase error rates and should be avoided (see here for more info on that).

Note that they make inkjet-printable blank media which can be printed on directly by some printers (Epson R200 springs to mind, but it looks like that one's already been discontinued) so if you plan on making a lot of CDs with labels you might consider going this way. Alternately there's a technology called LightScribe that lets you print directly on the label side of the disc using only your burner, but this requires a burner that supports it, and special media that's usually a bit more expensive.
posted by reptile at 6:10 AM on December 8, 2009

Alternately there's a technology called LightScribe
FYI, I use lightscribe for my DVD's I produce. Easy to use, and you can inscribe just simple text or even pictures. Drawbacks are the price of lightscribe compatible DVD's, you also need a lightscribe compatible DVD burner; also, depending on what you are inscribing, it can take anywhere from 3 to 25 minutes for each DVD to burn, depending on the complexity. Advantage is that it looks pretty cool, and it's permanant.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 7:18 AM on December 8, 2009

I have used lightscribe too, and it is nice but takes a long time.

Where I work, we recently made a ton of cd's to give out to the public, and we used this It worked fine, but we went through quite a few replacement ribbons. And it is very basic but you can add some graphics.
posted by chocolatetiara at 10:35 AM on December 8, 2009

One thing to keep in mind is that paper labels add thickness to the disc, which may thwart using it in some slot-loading players. I had a mix CD with a label on it that wrecked my car's slot-loading player.
posted by GJSchaller at 1:15 PM on December 8, 2009

I would mostly worry about unbalancing the disc. If it's only to be played as a CD, it's not that big of a deal. However, if it's going to go into a computer and get ripped, it will be spun at high speed and imbalanced discs will wobble and (rarely) shatter. I would also be worried about the chemicals seeping into the data layer which is actually right next to the top, not the bottom.
posted by chairface at 4:35 PM on December 11, 2009

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