Monday, July 1, 2013

ARTISAN 50, A Printer That Prints On Discs

A Printer That Prints On Discs




Recently I wrote about DISCUS, a software program designed for printing directly on CD’s & DVD’s. The question remaining is what printer works best for this process?

Several years ago DYMO introduced the DiscPainter, a compact printer whose sole purpose was printing on printable discs. This printer was even supplied with Discus as the recommended creation software. When I tested this printer at that time I found it to be best-in-class. In fact, it had little competition for small-run printing. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and such was the case with the DiscPainter. RIP!

Today, many printers are available with the disc printing capability. They started appearing shortly after DiscPainter’s introduction and range from all-in-one to stand-alone models. The good news is that over time they’ve improved greatly! Gone are the jams and smeared ink issues that plagued these early models. The bad news, they’re still very clumsy, but, still the only game in town.

I’ve tested several stand-alone models from various manufacturers and settled on the Epson Artisan 50 for this article. I chose this stand-alone model over the all-in-one versions since generally the latter offers many multiple purpose features that are unneeded when the ultimate goal is to print on discs.

(TIP: Never attempt printing on discs that are not specifically intended to be printed on as the result will be smeared and the smeared ink will gum up the interior of the printer and could damage the print head as well. Also, avoid the use of generic ink as most printers are designed to reject them anyway and opened ink tanks can’t be returned. Exterior ink tanks exist, but use with caution as they, too can cause problems.)

The Artisan 50 prints on paper and on printable discs using 6 ink tanks, Black, Cyan, Light Cyan, Magenta, Light Magenta and Yellow. The use of individual ink tanks is a big plus as it reproduces truer colors and saves on ink replacement costs. The computer, software-to-printer, set up is a bit tricky. It’s not as simple as just selecting the printer set up menu and selecting common sense selections. Instead, certain substitutions are required to complete the task. This is an issue due to the lack of an industry standard.

(TIP: DISCUS, details the setup settings on their web site. Manufacturer supplied software leaves a bit to be desired concerning these settings and in many cases instructions are poor.)

Another issue you will face with most printers is that the tray used to insert the disc into the printer is a bit clumsy in operation. I found that the Artisan 50 uses a dual-purpose tray system. The first tray is either positioned for paper or repositioned for disc use. My test revealed that this tray should not be in either position prior to turning on the printer. Once powered up the printer will make noise and a green light flashes on the power button indicating it’s cycling up for some undetermined task. This can take as long as a minute or so. When this stage is completed the green light stops flashing, the noise ceases and you may attach the tray to the top slots as indicated for disc printing. Once again you will hear some noise until the printer has made all the necessary adjustments for accepting discs. As long as you do not switch printers in the computer menu, or power down either device you will remain good to go. Inserting a printable disc into the second tray and then inserting that tray into the first tray and matching the arrows on both trays, completes actual disc insertion. Printing multiple discs requires you to remove the second tray each time and reload a new disc. This entire process is tedious and time consuming and certainly needs to be addressed in future stand-alone models. It is my understanding that the all-in-one models from Epson do have a more user-friendly loading process. Why this was not incorporated in the Artisan 50 is a mystery. Printing is somewhat slow, but the results are spectacular! Always print on a disc after its been burned. If you print prior to burning you should wait 24 hours for the ink to properly cure to avoid smearing or scratching of the printed material.

(TIP: Test prints can be very useful. Save printable discs that were not recordable and use them for a test print. The same can be done with printed discs that were not to your satisfaction as you can use them for test burns.)

The print quality of the Artisan 50 is outstanding. Once you get passed the initial clumsy set-up, the print quality outweighs this negative since no better alternative exists unless you revert to costly professional printers by other manufacturers.

(TIP: Most manufacturers offer refirb models available from their on-line stores. Often times these units were returned for minor problems or operator error issues. The benefit to you would be a much lower price, possible free shipping, a detailed factory inspection and full warranty.)

MSRP: $149.99 NEW • $99.95 REFIRB when available

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Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at, or followed at for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products at no cost for the articles and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings.


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