Yamaha drive enables laser-etched logos on CD-Rs

With the CDW-F1 drive, Yamaha claims it has the first drive that can use its laser to etch graphics, logos and text onto the surface of a CD-R disc

Electronics giant Yamaha says it has come up with a solution for what to do with all the empty space that is often left on recordable CDs after you have burned your music, photos or data onto them: laser-etch a logo.

Yamaha's CRW-F1 drive, which went on sale in Japan earlier this month, is the first CD-RW drive that is able to burn images directly onto a CD-R disc. All CD, CD-R and CD-RW drives user laser beams to read and (where appropriate) write data as a series of tiny dots on the surface of a special material sandwiched between two transparent plastic discs. Usually these dots are only noticeable by the interference patterns they produce, which create rainbow effects when held up to the light.

What Yamaha has done with the CRW-F1 is to introduce a technology it calls DiscT@2TM, which allows the laser to tattoo graphics, text and designs onto the unused outer portion of any CD-R disc. Obviously, if a disc is filled with data there will be no space to etch the graphics, but according to Allen H. Gharapetian, general manager of Yamaha multimedia products division, most people usually burn less than 350 megabytes of data -- or 60 minutes of audio -- on a blank disc. "This leaves ample room for adding text and graphics to the disc," he said. The process, said Gharapetian, eliminates the need for cumbersome stick-on labels, which peel off in the heat, become illegible when wet, or cause the CD to spin unevenly. According to Gharapetian, creating a laser-etched logo takes less than a minute.

For DiscT@2TM to work at all requires much higher precision than is found in conventional CD-RW drives, said Gharapetian. Tracking, rotation and laser intensity and positioning must all be precisely controlled. To help this, Yamaha has added a constant angular velocity writing mode, which ensures a disc rotation speed from start to end.

Among the jobs that Yamaha believes the new technology will find a home in are labelling discs with company logos, adding playlists to audio CDs, labelling backup CDs with the name of the program and the serial number, and labelling hard drive backups with the date of the backup.

Yamaha has not yet released UK pricing or launch details.

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