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LightScribe Printing 101

Call it printing, burning, or etching, it's all about getting the label on the disc. When printing LightScribe labels, there are a few things that are helpful to keep in mind and some tips and expectations that will help enhance the LightScribe experience.

Before getting into specific tips about printing, let's set realistic expectations for LightScribe printing. Not going in with these expectations in mind, and many people don't, often leads to unnecessary frustration.

Expectation 1... LightScribe does not produce full color labels. It uses a laser to etch your text and graphics onto the disc surface in increasing intensities of black. The laser has a very high resolution, can produce many shades of gray, and the labels look beautiful when done right. But the only color you will see on a LightScribe disc is the color of the disc itself.

Expectation 2... It takes a while for the laser to etch the design onto the surface of the disc. This is considerably slower than printing a label with an inkjet printer. A label full of text and graphics can take up to 20 minutes to print. Be patient. For shorter print times, read the tips below.

With these expectations in mind, let's look at ways to get the most out of LightScribe when printing your labels.

Tip 1: Circular designs

LightScribe prints the label by burning thin rings as the disc spins in the drive. The more rings that are burned, the longer it takes to complete the label. Therefore, design elements that span the full diameter of the disc will take longer to print than those constrained within concentric circles. Individual designs vary, but we've found the following diagram useful for estimating LightScribe print times:

The LightScribe laser burns in concentric circles from the center of the disc to the outside. If you want a fast burn, restrict your label content within the first circle (SureThing’s Circular Text tool makes this very easy). If your design includes text and graphics that span the entire surface of the disc, from center to edge, expect longer print times.

You can place text and images in the outer rings and still print in a reasonable amount of time provided the inner rings do not also contain text and graphics.

Tip 2: LightScribe label modes

Use the LightScribe Label Modes to create appropriate labels and optimize print performance.  Note: SureThing has layouts and backgrounds that make designing for the LightScribe print modes a snap.

Title Mode—Small, circular band with room for a title and subtitle. Approximately 2 minutes print time:

Content Mode—Slightly larger circular band with room for a title and description of the disc's contents. Approximately 3-5 minutes print time:

Full Mode—Full disc coverage with text and graphics. Approximately 20 minutes print time:

Tip 3: Use “Circular Text” Tool

For discs labeled with text only, use circular text to minimize print time. The text in the first two examples above was created using SureThing’s Circular Text tool, the easiest way to enter and format text in concentric rings optimized for faster LightScribe burns.

Tip 4: Re-print for darker designs

If your disc isn’t as dark as you’d like after printing, use the same disc to print it again. LightScribe will automatically align your disc to match your first print. If you always want your discs darker, you can set it in the LightScribe System Software control panel (keep in mind that this effectively doubles the time to print each disc).

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