Although both words have essentially the same meaning, in the CD & DVD industry, there is a big distinction in the terms, and how they refer to the manufacturing process of the final discs.
Duplicated discs are manufactured using blank disks (CD-R for duplicating CDs and DVD-R, or Blu-ray-R (BD-R) for duplicating DVDs) onto which the digital data, audio or video is copied with robotic duplication machines similar to the CD or DVD writer built into your home computer. With the exception of some Blue-ray discs that use a slightly different technology, blank media is made of a polycarbonate disc with a reflective surface and a photo sensitive dye. The write head or laser in the duplication machine ‘burns’ the digital information into the photo sensitive layer during duplication.
There is no difference in the sound or data quality of a duplicated or replicated disc – in fact many replicated CD’s and DVD’s are made from duplicated masters. However, many professionals argue that the data integrity on a replicated disc is better due to the way in which they are made.
Replicated discs are manufactured using a high temperature injection moulding process and glass mastering. The glass mastering stage involves the data from your master being transferred onto an optically ground and polished disc. This digital information is etched into a coating on the glass, which is then used to make nickel stampers in an electrolytic bath. These stampers are then used in the moulding process during replication. This process is the same for CD and DVD replication.
So… The pros and cons?
Duplication is more cost effective on short run orders – or when very fast turnaround times are required. This makes them very suitable for promo projects and demo’s. However, on order quantities of 500 upwards, replicated discs become cheaper per unit to manufacture and as recognised by the industry, if you are looking to manufacture a professional, commercial quality product – the replicated disc is the way to go.