There are three primary technologies used for CD and DVD and Blu-Ray disc printers.
Ink-Jet Printing: The following printers are designed specifically to handle CD/DVD/BD media and print directly onto an "inkjet printable" disc.
Epson Autoprinter –100 Disc 6 Color Printer. 6 separate ink cartridges about .10 per disc. $1950
PF-PRO (MAC or PC) 100 Disc professional printer with separate cyan, magenta, yellow and black cartridges. Less than 1 cent for black printing and about .10 each disc for full color printing.
Daisy chain up to 5 printers from one PC or 4 printers from one MAC. $2195 limited time special.
GX3 Autoprinter (MAC or PC connect 50 Disc) $1195
MantraJet Autoprinter 50 or 100 Disc printers, PC connect, use “off the shelf” H.P. ink $1295 or $1495
Manual one disc printer: MantraJet 101 uses H.P. standard ink (56 & 57) 1 Disc printer - $695
Pros: Full Color Printing, High Resolution (up to 4800dpi), Lowest equipment cost, Print Costs per disc vary for black only printing $0.01/disc to $0.10 to $0.25/discs each for full color printing. If you’re not printing full discs the cost will go significantly down.
Cons: With ink jet printed discs there is a concern that the ink can smear when it comes in contact with moisture. However, JVC (aka Taiyo Yuden) offers CD and DVD discs that have a glossy professional look and are highly water resistant. JVC "Watershield CD" and JVC "Watershield DVD".
Thermal Printing: Uses heat and direct impact to permanently print on most brands of blank shiny CD or DVD media in black or another monochrome color.
Pros: Permanent printing, very inexpensive when used for monochrome printing, $0.03 - $0.05 per disc.
Cons: Low print resolution 300dpi and lack true rich color capabilities, cannot print photos. Mostly used for text and simple monochrome graphics. More expensive than Ink-jet printers.
Thermal Re-Transfer or Dye-Sublimation: Photo realistic full color printing, by printing onto a film inside the printer which then is transferred via using heat and pressure to permanently print onto CDs or DVDs.
Pros: Permanent photo realistic quality printing (up to 290 lpi)
Cons: Print costs around $0.30/disc. Until recently, needed special coated thermal discs to print on.
Teac’s P-55 printer has a new ribbon Versamax that provides greater flexibility in disc choices. The Versamax ribbon allows you to print onto, some shiny or flat lacquered CDs or DVDs, and most all thermal discs.
TEAC P55C Printer with 220 Disc autoloader can be purchased for around $6895.
TEAC P55C Printer with 550 Disc autoloader can be purchased for around $7995.