Engraving Lightscribe DVD disks

Tried engraving a Lightscribe DVD disk using an Ortur 2: speed/power set to 70/40 engraving a text using fill definitely shows through the other side, speed/power set to 300/10 does not show through. Has anyone engraved a Lightscribe DVD disk and was able to record on the data side successfully?

I don’t know what these disks are made of, so I’d suggest you find out before you engrave on them. Any laser heats the material, usually vaporizing it. This releases gas that could be dangerous.

Vinyl releases chlorine gas. ABS can produce cyanide gas.

Just understand what you are burning and probably breathing.

Good luck


Lightscribe discs are actually a specific disc type that are made to accommodate a design to be burned onto the top of the disc. This is expected to be done with the DVD burner itself and requires special software to allow for this.

It sounds like @Shogun is trying to use a laser engraver to burn to the top surface instead of using the DVD burner. I’m not aware of how specifically formulated the top label surface is to the frequency of the DVD burner laser (red laser) but I suspect it’s fairly tightly tuned to it. But again, not sure.

I had one of these drives many years ago, I had thought they went defunct.

I don’t think the material was ever designed to be vaporized, like a ‘real’ laser would do to it. This was the health concern.


No. The design is not created through a vaporization process. If memory serves, there’s a photo sensitive dye on the disc which goes through a chemical change when exposed to a certain intensity and perhaps frequency of light. I suspect it works similarly to the normal disc writing process itself but reworked to allow for precise geometric placement of designs onto the surface of the disc.

I think the theory of writing to it directly could work since it’s just a photo sensitive layer. If frequency is an issue you could potentially pull a laser diode from a DVD burner and mount it to the laser head. Or find a laser with the equivalent wavelength and power range. Specific safety goggles for these frequencies would be required if done this way.

Makes sense.

I looked at it with a magnifying glass, couldn’t really see any damage to the surface. I could see damage to the ‘data’ side.


Interesting. I need to think that it must use a similar mechanism to the writing process since it’s relying on the same laser mechanism but perhaps leverages a different chemical composition or physical layout of the tracking grooves. Though I would think it cheaper just to duplicate the top and bottom layers of the disc.

I am clueless how it works at that level… I just leery of vaporizing stuff that I don’t know what it’s made of.


Yeah for sure. Although discs are typically made of polycarbonate so probably okay with good ventilation. In reality, to any diode laser the polycarbonate will be transparent. A CO2 laser wouldn’t be able to expose the photosensitive layer so out of the question anyhow.

Did some review of how Lightscribe works and it appears the chemical layer is not photo-sensitive but rather heat-sensitive. In that case, as long as the layer can be properly heated with a diode laser and has adequate power modulation I see this as a high probably of working, just a matter of dialing in the settings.

@Shogun Are you not able to get a proper design engraved with the data side intact?

Had an old Lightscribe DVD disk that did have a recording on the data side, that did play. Used various settings on the Lightscribe side and seems that a speed/power setting of 100/40 would (fill) show through the data side; using 300/10 (fill) did not show through on the data side. After doing the Ortur 2 burns, the disk still did play on a dvd play. Don’t know anything about chemical composition of the Lightscribe disk but do have an enclosure for the laser with an exhaust fan and carbon filter. Also I use a meter that measures three various particles. Readings did rise above the recommended but these were very limited burns, i.e. few seconds. Thanks to people for the input.

My suggestion would be to use the least amount of power (low power, high speed) required to make the engraving. If this is indeed a heat-sensitive layer you likely want to minimize the heat generated. I would expect very little off-gassing in the process if done correctly.

Cool discovery and repurposing of an old technology.

I still have 2 Lightscribe burners, but each does a poor job of burning the image on the face when you put it in face-down.
I also have about 15 Lightscribe discs left - and tried last week to run an old image n the cover - it sort-of did the left side, about 1/4 of it, and nothing showed up elsewhere.

I don’t know whether the discs have a useby date for their engraveability, or if sitting near a window affected the stack, but now you mention it I might try a super-low power fast CO2 laser scan, of the level that might engrave paper without burning it, and see if that works.

Thanks for the idea.

PS I thought it was a laser-sensitive mutky khaki die, and that the software works by breaking your finished label design into one loooong spiral to be lasered as the disc spins.
It always took about 20-25 minutes per DVD to do the top cover but was good while the contrast was high.

The normally burned underneath side was fine - it took an ISO and copied it on ok last week. I did 4 discs.

I don’t recommend this. I believe the plastic used in these discs is polycarbonate which is opaque to CO2 lasers. It will burn the plastic laser, not the thermal sensitive layer. Unless, of course, this is what you want to happen…

Yes, laser sensitive but apparently due to heat, not photo sensitivity.

Yes, since all CD based technology requires a groove. LightScribe burners also include a sensor that can track the geometric position on disc and not just the distance along a groove.

If the bottom writes correctly I’d be surprised if the top layer was aged out… but it’s possible the chemistries are slightly different.

The bottom does write correctly. The laser reader can read it.
The top, has to appear as a greyscale image to our eyes - which is a different demand, and sadly it fails. Even when set on maximum contrast.
Whether the problem is both burners, or the discs, I’ve not yet tried to figure out, but some tiny instinct suggests it is the machine, mostly - that they do not last as well as standard non-Lightscribe reader/burners.

I don’t believe the Lightscribe layer is meant to provide multiple levels of gray but I may be wrong. My understanding was that the layer basically provided a binary change. So you’d likely have to use dithering to provide the illusion of shading.

Sorry - you’re right - yes a halftone or similar is needed.
When I wrote greyscale, I meant that the image isn’t in colour, but appears in grey.

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