Your project is finished and you’re ready to get it out there, what’s the most cost effective way of reproducing your DVD or CD? Duplication is not a “one size fits all” type of thing, there are options.
There are basically two ways to pay for production of your title: up-front, or as orders come in. All else being equal, there are obvious advantages to minimizing your initial expenses. However, there are also reasons why for some projects it makes more sense to spend more up front on a large production run.
Replication is the “traditional” way to manufacture DVDs and CDs for sale. It uses a process of stamping a large number of discs out of molten plastic on a high-capacity press. This is the technique Hollywood uses to produce DVDs in vast quantities, and produces the most compatible end product. This allows the production of discs which are relatively inexpensive each, but it also requires a minimum run of about 1000 pieces. Similarly, the packaging is printed on high-speed presses, thousands of sheets at a time. As a result, you typically spend a couple thousand dollars up-front to go this route.
On-Demand production or CD duplication is a very different approach from replication. In this approach, discs and packaging are made one at a time as orders come in. As a result, your up-front costs are only $50, a tiny fraction of what they’d be with high-volume replication. On the other hand, per-unit prices are higher than they would be with replication, so profitability is lower at higher volumes. Also, a small number of older DVD players may have trouble playing the DVD-R media used in on-demand duplication.
Replication with On-Demand Packaging uses a combination of the techniques above. The discs are replicated in volume. However, instead of printing and packaging everything in boxes immediately, the discs are stored on bulk spindles. Printing and packaging is then handled as orders roll in. This reduces up-front costs considerably, minimizes storage costs, and still yields the high compatibility of replicated discs. Per-unit profit falls between the two options above.