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WEB EXCLUSIVE:Optical media shows record growth; magnetic media declines

May 31, 2001

10 Min Read
WEB EXCLUSIVE:Optical media shows record growth; magnetic media declines

With 10 billion-plus units produced worldwide, there's no disputing that 2000 was a "breakthrough" year for optical media, reported Charles Van Horn, president of the International Recording Media Assn. (IRMA). Speaking at Replitech North America 2001 in Los Angeles, Van Horn went on to say that 2001 will also clearly be a 10 billion-plus year for CD and DVD production. Such production is expected to see a gain of 400 million units in 2001, bringing the estimated total to 10.476 billion CDs and DVDs. 

"Nearly half of the 10 billion units replicated in 2000 were produced in North America," he said. "Europe followed with a 28 percent share; China, 12 percent; Japan, 7 percent; Latin America, 4 percent; and the rest of the world, 7 percent." 

IRMA forecasts show increased competition for CD-Audio, mainly from DVD-Audio, and strong sales of DVD-Video disks to support record DVD player sales. 

"DVD player sales reached 1.3 million units in December alone, according to a year-end hardware report from the Consumer Electronics Assn.," reported Van Horn. "For the year 2000 in total, sales of DVD players rose by almost 10 percent for a total of 8.5 million player sales." In four years of sales, DVD players have reached 14 million units, greatly overshadowing the three million units VHS recorders posted during that product's first four years, he added. 


The latest innovation in CD jewel case design from Sagoma Plastics catches consumers' eyes using a hologram. The patented inmold process actually integrates the hologram into the molded product through the use of a mastercasting inserted into the mold. Unlike stickers or labels, the inmold hologram both provides security and offers a unique look for jewel boxes.

Sagoma, a custom injection molder, spent eight months designing, developing, and patenting the inmold hologram method. The process, which Sagoma plans to license to other manufacturers, can be used in a variety of applications, including computer products, mobile phone screens, DVD cases, and pharmaceutical bottles.

The integral mastercasting can be inserted into existing molds as well as incorporated into new molds. The mastercasting surface can be changed in the mold in 15 minutes per cavity, notes John Gelardi, vp of design and engineering at Sagoma. The process can be used on most all injection molding resins including polystyrene, ABS, acetal, and polypropylene. Testing has shown excellent run life cycles of more than 500,000 pieces with no apparent degradation of the surface. Inmold holographics can be applied to both flat and contoured surfaces. "We use this to help customers add feature-rich value to their products," Gelardi adds.

For security purposes, the inmold hologram process embeds machine-readable codes into the hologram, which can only be read with the use of a proprietary digital reader. Other security features such as micro lettering and mercurial and latent imagery can also be implemented into the hologram design.

For more information, contactSagoma Plastics, Biddeford, ME;(207) 284-1772; www.sagomaplastics.com. 

However, all is not booming. Magnetic media, including video and audiocassettes and 3.5-inch floppy disks, are in various states of decline. "The compound annual growth rate projected for duplicated videocassettes from 1998 through 2001 is a negative 6 percent," Van Horn said. From 1999 through 2001, duplicated audiocassettes are projected to decline at a compound annual rate of 10 percent worldwide, and blank cassettes at 13 percent, reported the IRMA. 

The economy is also a factor for those involved in optical and magnetic media. Molders continue to find themselves caught in a commodity market where overcapacity, thin margins, and higher costs to manufacture are putting strains on their businesses. Speakers at Replitech addressed the issue of cost reduction. The big question, said Karen Durdag, engineering manager for Steag-Hamatech Inc., is, "How far can I go to save a buck and not have it come back to bite me?" 

It takes a combination of factors and cooperation among suppliers to help disk makers achieve productivity, efficiency, and profitability. "We can't say we just make equipment or just mold disks," said Durdag, emphasizing that everyone has a contribution to make to the health of the optical disk industry. 


 The new ZenithPac from Clear-Vu Products is a standard-size DVD shell with enhancements for retail security. The polypropylene package has a specialized locking system that uses a patented magnetic decoupling system at the checkout counter.

ZenithPac is designed to integrate seamlessly with existing automation equipment to allow for easy loading at the replicator's facility. The ZenithPac locks are reusable, which gives retailers additional savings. Clear-Vu's security system is currently being used in many retail chains including Blockbuster, Borders Books & Music, and Circuit City.

Another security option is available from Emplast Inc. Its new DSS-2100 (pictured) is designed for securing DVDs in a disposable frame. Emplast is noted for its heavy-duty polycarbonate security cases that require a special key to unlock at the retail checkout counter. However, notes Phil Sykes, vp of sales and marketing for Emplast's media security products division, with the dramatic price increases for polycarbonate over the last year, customers have been seeking a more cost-effective method for theft deterrence.

The DSS-2100 is molded from polypropylene and retailers have a choice of either unlocking the device and removing the product, and then reloading and reusing the device, or sending the device home with the customer. Sykes says that some retailers prefer not to reuse the cases, as it can be time consuming. With the disposable PP case, the product can be loaded at the replicator, and then unlocked at the retailer and sent home with the customer.

For more information, contactClear-Vu Products, Westbury, NY;(516) 333-8880; www.clear-vu.com;and Emplast, Chanhassen, MN;(612) 975-3500; www.emplast.com. 

Alternative Material 
One possible cost-saving option being promoted at Replitech to the DVD market was Atofina's Plexiglas acrylic material. H. Reid Banyay, applications development engineer for Atofina's Plexiglas division, said that using PMMA (acrylic) in DVD manufacturing can help disk molders realize a 20 percent cost savings over polycarbonate in the raw material purchase price alone. 

Other cost savings come with reduced drying times and molding temperatures, which save in electricity costs. Banyay's model shows a $13.31 savings/week; however, actual comparisons from a disk maker molding both PC and PMMA show a $50/week cost savings. 

Calculating the savings for one line, running 24/7 and using 3845 lb/week of PMMA, Banyay recorded a savings of $1154/week in substrate material costs alone (assuming a cost of $1.50/lb for PC and $1.20/lb for PMMA and equal cycle times and efficiency). 

So why isn't the world beating a path to Atofina's door to use PMMA? "Most of the disk manufacturers are CD manufacturers that go into DVD, so they're comfortable with PC," Banyay said. Also, PMMA does not have the "super-tough impact strength" the CD world has gotten used to, "so there are some behavioral issues here," he stated. "And PMMA does not consistently pass the Optional DVD Book Storage Test [70 deg F/90 percent rh/96 hours]." 

Still, Banyay is optimistic. "In invisible wave lengths, PMMA has greater light transmission ability than PC," he said. "For future formats this will be very important." 

1999 TOTAL • 3763

2000 TOTAL • 4279

2001 TOTAL • 4712

Table 1. CD and DVD Replication, North America, 1999—2001, millions




2001 (est.)

























Fighting Piracy 
Also a hot topic at Replitech, and a continued cost drain to those in the market, is the issue of piracy. Each year, media pirates cost the music and movie industries some $12 billion worldwide in lost sales and revenues. In the U.S., music piracy costs $300 million annually. To address this, the IRMA has developed a program to protect the intellectual property rights of content owners. A new active coalition, Optical Media Manufacturers Assn. (OMMA), has been formed to fight piracy through a set of voluntary standards for manufacturers and suppliers. 

So far, 27 companies have joined the program and signed OMMA's Anti-Piracy Covenant, including Bayer, Arburg GmbH, Dow Chemical Co., GE Plastics BV, Axxicon Moulds Eindhoven BV, and Toolex International. 

Those companies that sign the covenant pledge to adhere to national and international laws concerning piracy and intellectual property rights; deliver only products and/or services to verifiable customers; implement antipiracy procedures and controls as integral parts of their business processes; and promote and support the importance of a Source Identification (SID) Code. 

"The last point is of special importance because it makes use of technical tools for detecting and tracing illegally used optical disk production equipment," says Lambert Dielesen, OMMA secretary and IRMA vp, Europe. 


 Three new, lightweight CD and CD-R cases from Lenco PMC are designed to be suitable for mailing. The CD-R case (pictured) is molded from polypropylene, is C-shaped, and is only 5 mm thick. There is also the CD-50 Slimline jewel box, molded in polystyrene, which protects CDs and CD-Rs. This package reportedly takes up 1/3 of the space required by a regular jewel box. Another slim jewel box option, molded in polypropylene, has an unbreakable living hinge and is only 5.4 mm thick. Both of these lightweight jewel boxes are ideal for mailing.

Lenco also displayed a new DVD package with a unique M-shaped locking mechanism designed to allow for removal without causing stress. Both single-DVD and double-DVD versions are available.

For more information, contactLenco PMC, Waverly, NE;(402) 786-2000; www.lencopmc.com. 

Programs currently established have overall been ineffective in stopping piracy. Two years ago, Dow Plastics created MediaShield, which was based on a newly formulated material for optical disk replication called PCHE (see "Tape, Disk Markets Continue Strong; DVD is the Driving Force," August 1999 IMM, pp. 32-34). The concept seemed solid: Only verifiable replicators could purchase the resin, which would be registered to specific customers, and then tracked pellet-by-pellet to ensure that only legitimate replicators had access to it. These customers would then be held accountable for every pound. If the concept is simple, the execution is not. 

According to Henri-Luc Martin, director of Anti-Piracy for Dow Plastics, the company "continues to evaluate its MediaShield antipiracy program. However, this program is targeted to next-generation optical disk formats that are at a very early stage of development." 

Dow, like other materials suppliers, including GE Plastics with its Vendor Managed Inventory Program, is hoping to control the use of optical-grade materials through sales channels designed to guarantee that the material is only sold to reputable replicators. Still, Dow's Martin admitted that trying to manage piracy through the control of supply channels has its shortcomings. "We can demonstrate where the pellets are going, but we can't demonstrate who's [replicating] legally or illegally." 

None of these programs addresses the issue of raw materials and machinery bought on the secondary markets through brokers. Molders affiliated with the CD and DVD industries say that keeping materials and equipment out of the hands of illicit replicating companies is almost impossible. Several commented off the record that when it comes to selling material or machinery, most brokers will take the money now and ask questions later, if at all. 



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