How were CD labels like Sonic R’s printed?


A lot of 90’s PC titles and early 2000’s ones have basically 1 or 2 colored dithered print on the CD itself for the label and use the CD’s shininess as the background color. How were labels like this printed?


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TLDR: Screen printing

CDs are a thin film of aluminum coated in a transparent plastic shell. So seeing the shiny aluminum is what you would expect if there is no paint on the CD.

CDs like this are mass-manufactured and the label was likely applied using some kind of screen printing.

A masking template is applied to a fine screen mesh creating a negative. The screen mesh is then pressed against the CD and paint is wiped over it. The paint passes through any spot in the screen that isn’t covered by the mask creating the positive image on the CD.

CDs go through multiple printings, one for each color. In this case 2, Red and Blue.

A similar technique is often used T-shirts