Laser Printed Light Scribe CD

LightScribe is a CD labeling method where text and graphics are burned directly on to the disc. Eliminating the need for paper labels, LightScribe allows small businesses and individuals to create custom discs at low costs.


The LightScribe process requires a certain disc burner and specially made LightScribe CDs. Recently, most recent desktop and laptop computers have been made with LightScribe disc drives already installed. These are identified by a sticker with the LightScribe logo.

The drive itself has a sensor on the metal part where the disc sits. This is different from the actual laser and tells the computer where the disc is positioned. If the computer does not have the correct drive installed, users can purchase external drives and duplicator systems.


Once the requisite hardware is in place, LightScribe System Software is needed to design the disc and communicate that design to the laser. LightScribe itself has two basic software packages available free. The LightScribe Simple Labeler allows the user to print basic text and circular artwork. The LightScribe Template Labeler adds detailed graphics that can cover the entire disc.

Many companies that are already in the business of creating disc-burning software have developed programs that use LightScribe technology. These include Roxio, Nero, Cyberlink, Corel and LaCie. Depending on who built the computer, one of these may be installed along with the driver.


To burn designs onto a disc, the Lightscribe CD-R is coated with a special dye that changes color with exposed to a particular type of laser. All of the biggest disc manufacturers such as Memorex, TDK, Verbatim, HP and Kodak have a line of LightScribe compatible discs. These are available in office supply and general retailers the same as any other blank disc. The packaging will specifically indicate that the discs are LightScribe discs.

Although the LightScribe laser can only burn in shades of gray, the discs themselves come in a variety of colors. In addition to the standard gold color, red, orange, blue and green are available for further personalization.


  1. LightScribe discs are printed at 1,200 dpi but that density is best for text and very simple graphics. Otherwise, the discs take too long to burn. For detailed pictures, 300 dpi is sufficient to maintain high quality without sacrificing speed.
  2. Although graphics on a LightScribe label cannot be erased, they can be added. When a user adds something to the design on the same software, the laser sensor can tell where already printed graphics are and add the new ones.
  3. Discs should be kept in cool, dry spaces away from direct sunlight. They should be handled by the edges to avoid chemicals from hands wearing off the disc’s graphics. Hand lotions in particular can damage the disc. To keep the discs clean, soft, wet cloths can be used.

LightScribe is simple to use and readily available. The cost is less than the combined price of ink and labels and the result is both personal and professional.