CD Packaging Options and Artwork Creation

What is the intention for the end product?

As you would imagine, there is a huge variety of CD packaging available suited to many different possible functions. If you intend to post out promotional material for your business, organisation or event then you may need a slim, lightweight type of packaging such as a plastic wallet or a printed card wallet, depending upon your budget. If your disc is destined for the shelves in a retail environment then you may need a standard jewel case (the type that most music CDs are supplied in) or perhaps a DVD case for computer software which will accommodate a larger instruction booklet.

The project budget is usually the biggest concern when sourcing packaging but if presentation is more of an issue for your particular project then it would probably be useful to know a little more about your options. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the most popular CD packaging types and their various costs and possible uses.

Plastic CD Wallets and Paper CD Wallets

A plastic or paper wallet is basically only to be used to protect the printed and recorded disc surfaces from possible scratches through light handling. They are the least expensive packaging option and are perfect if you are distributing promotional audio or data discs at an exhibition or sending them out in the post to promote music, images, data or software. They are not intended for potential long term use though, and although it is possible to include a printed card with information on inside the wallet, they are flat and are easily misplaced amongst mail, books or other more robust CD packaging types.

Printed CD Card Wallet

A printed card wallet is made from a thicker grade of material than the plastic or paper wallet and so will protect the CD to a greater degree and can also be printed with eye-catching images or information about the contents. Again, they are lightweight, low cost and are ideal if the disc is to be posted out. A printed CD card wallet is also a great option for an audio disc that will end up on a merchandise stall at your band’s latest gig venue as you can transport a large quantity in a small space. They are ideal for inclusion with other promotional media or reading material and you may have frequently come across card wallets included with magazines or newspapers. They are also great for distribution at events or exhibitions where the printed panels can be used to convey essential information about the CD and its intended use.

They can be manufactured from 100% recyclable material or they can be specially finished with a glossy or matt surface depending upon your artwork requirements.

Printed CD Card Wallets are also available that will accommodate more than 1 disc, most commonly a double CD wallet. There are also variants available that can hold an information booklet.

If your requirement is for a slim-line packaging solution but you still have a large quantity of accompanying information, there is a tall CD Card wallet variant that is commercially available. These are twice the size of a regular card wallet in terms of height, roughly 246mm in height by 123 mm in width.

CD Trigger Cases and CD Clamshell Cases

A trigger case is a polypropylene plastic injection moulded case which is open along one edge to receive a disc. The opposite edge has a trigger mechanism inside for ejecting the CD. The Clamshell case is also an injection moulded polypropylene case but this type has a hinge at one side and a securing mechanism which passes through the centre hole of the disc to hold the case closed and the disc securely. Both of these packaging varieties are available in a range of colours but do not readily accommodate any printed paper parts so are purely to protect the disc from damage. The polypropylene manufacturing material is very flexible and robust; ideal for mailing out CDs but more expensive than a plastic or paper wallet.

Standard Jewel Cases and Slim-line Jewel Cases

The standard jewel case is the familiar type of CD packaging that most music discs are distributed in via a retail environment. They are made of a rigid polystyrene material that protects the disc well and holds the disc firmly in place on a moulded stud, but they can be prone to shattering under heavy abuse. Their main advantage is that they can accommodate other printed material such as an information booklet; in the case of a music CD this usually contains artwork, information about the musicians and the music on the disc and, very often, song lyrics. The aim being to provide a tangible experience for the end user to encourage them to buy the product in the first place and for them to continue listening to the CD providing a positive experience and attracting further purchases of future releases; basically, helping to create a fan base for musicians.

There is a slim-line version of the jewel case available. These can accommodate the front information booklet as with the standard case but not the rear tray card behind the disc. They are, obviously, slimmer than a standard case and lighter, so may be good for mailing purposes but tend to be less robust.

Should your project need to be released on more than 1 disc, there are also jewel cases that can accommodate multiple discs, the most commonly available being a double CD jewel case. There are cases that can contain as many as 6 CDs commercially available, if required.

Being a plastic product, there are a variety of colour options available although they do tend to be more expensive than the regular clear plastic case.

In recent years a variety of the jewel case known as the “Super Jewel Case” has gained popularity as a solution for mass produced retail CDs. These cases have a more robust hinge, curved edges and a better quality feel than a standard jewel case.

CD Digipack

The digipack is an alternative packaging type to the jewel case. A digipack typically consists of a gatefold (book-style) cardstock outer material, with one or more plastic trays adhered to the inside panels with a moulded stud to hold a CD firmly in place. They are an attractive type of packaging as the card material can be printed with your choice of design and can then receive a glossy or matt laminate finish. They do not have the disadvantage of the brittleness of the jewel case material, particularly at the hinge points, but do tend to be more susceptible to surface abrasion. The cost of digipacks tends to be slightly higher than jewel cases as well, so you usually see these used as packaging for special edition music releases rather than a general release

Specialist and Custom Packaging

Where the project budget allows for it and to really grab your audience’s attention, there are several more specialist CD packaging variants available. These tend to be used to create a real value for money feel to the product or to attract a potential customer’s interest over other similar, competing products.

CD Jakebox

The jakebox is a very clever type of packaging that holds the disc securely in a cardstock package that has no other components such as a plastic CD holding stud or tray. The disc is held in a cardstock “claw” which folds down into a flat package but when opened the claw lifts up and presents the user with their disc. The images here serve to help you better understand how the packaging works; the mechanism is similar to how a “pop up” book might work. The jakebox can receive a full colour digital print and laminate finish as with other types of cardstock CD packaging but do tend to be more expensive than conventional packaging types due to the complexity of their construction. They are, however, very impressive and serve their purpose perfectly in providing a “WOW” factor to your project.

Metal CD Tin

These are specially made metal CD cases that can be spot colour printed with logos or basic designs and can be manufactured in a range of shapes. They tend to be expensive as their manufacture is usually a one off run but costs can be reduced, per unit, where large volumes are ordered. Again, this type of packaging is used to add a little extra value and create a lasting impression for the customer where the project is aimed at getting the music or business noticed and talked about.

Artwork for Packaging

If you are unfamiliar with the requirements for creating CD Packaging artwork, then it would probably be prudent to allow a portion of your project budget to go towards paying for a professional service. If this is not a viable option, then there is plenty of sound advice to be found on the internet along with templates for the creation of all the above types of packaging or associated paper parts.

Designing for digital print is not particularly straight forward and many a project has been delayed because the proposed artwork cannot be effectively represented on the packaging type selected.

If you are having the packaging made by a professional company then they will usually be more than happy to advise on artwork creation and, in most cases, without obligation.

In Summary

The type of CD packaging that you use is dependent upon many factors such as project end use, project budget etc. Hopefully, this article will provide you with enough information to make an informed choice and certainly enough to be able to talk in detail to a packaging supplier about customised packaging and to help you get the best deal.


Post time: 03-28-2017