As you would imagine, there is a huge variety of CD packaging available suited to many different possible functions. If you intend to post out promotional material for your business, organisation or event then you may need a slim, lightweight type of packaging such as a plastic wallet or a printed card wallet, depending upon your budget. If your disc is destined for the shelves in a retail environment then you may need a standard jewel case (the type that most music CDs are supplied in) or perhaps a DVD case for computer software which will accommodate a larger instruction booklet.
The project budget is usually the biggest concern when sourcing packaging but if presentation is more of an issue for your particular project then it would probably be useful to know a little more about your options. With that in mind, let's take a look at the most popular CD packaging types and their various costs and possible uses.
Plastic CD Wallets and Paper CD Wallets
A plastic or paper wallet is basically only to be used to protect the printed and recorded disc surfaces from possible scratches through light handling. They are the least expensive packaging option and are perfect if you are distributing promotional audio or data discs at an exhibition or sending them out in the post to promote music, images, data or software. They are not intended for potential long term use though, and although it is possible to include a printed card with information on inside the wallet, they are flat and are easily misplaced amongst mail, books or other more robust CD packaging types.
Printed CD Card Wallet
A printed card wallet is made from a thicker grade of material than the plastic or paper wallet and so will protect the CD to a greater degree and can also be printed with eye-catching images or information about the contents. Again, they are lightweight, low cost and are ideal if the disc is to be posted out. A printed CD card wallet is also a great option for an audio disc that will end up on a merchandise stall at your band's latest gig venue as you can transport a large quantity in a small space. They are ideal for inclusion with other promotional media or reading material and you may have frequently come across card wallets included with magazines or newspapers. They are also great for distribution at events or exhibitions where the printed panels can be used to convey essential information about the CD and its intended use.
They can be manufactured from 100% recyclable material or they can be specially finished with a glossy or matt surface depending upon your artwork requirements.
Printed CD Card Wallets are also available that will accommodate more than 1 disc, most commonly a double CD wallet. There are also variants available that can hold an information booklet.
If your requirement is for a slim-line packaging solution but you still have a large quantity of accompanying information, there is a tall CD Card wallet variant that is commercially available. These are twice the size of a regular card wallet in terms of height, roughly 246mm in height by 123 mm in width.
CD Trigger Cases and CD Clamshell Cases
A trigger case is a polypropylene plastic injection moulded case which is open along one edge to receive a disc. The opposite edge has a trigger mechanism inside for ejecting the CD. The Clamshell case is also an injection moulded polypropylene case but this type has a hinge at one side and a securing mechanism which passes through the centre hole of the disc to hold the case closed and the disc securely. Both of these packaging varieties are available in a range of colours but do not readily accommodate any printed paper parts so are purely to protect the disc from damage. The polypropylene manufacturing material is very flexible and robust; ideal for mailing out CDs but more expensive than a plastic or paper wallet.
Standard Jewel Cases and Slim-line Jewel Cases
The standard jewel case is the familiar type of CD packaging that most music discs are distributed in via a retail environment. They are made of a rigid polystyrene material that protects the disc well and holds the disc firmly in place on a moulded stud, but they can be prone to shattering under heavy abuse. Their main advantage is that they can accommodate other printed material such as an information booklet; in the case of a music CD this usually contains artwork, information about the musicians and the music on the disc and, very often, song lyrics. The aim being to provide a tangible experience for the end user to encourage them to buy the product in the first place and for them to continue listening to the CD providing a positive experience and attracting further purchases of future releases; basically, helping to create a fan base for musicians.
There is a slim-line version of the jewel case available. These can accommodate the front information booklet as with the standard case but not the rear tray card behind the disc. They are, obviously, slimmer than a standard case and lighter, so may be good for mailing purposes but tend to be less robust.