What are the different types of Blu-ray, DVD and CD cases?

Before anyone listens or views the content of your disc, they're likely to initially see the packaging, design and style of cases.

First impressions are lasting and therefore it is important to not just have the best design that portrays the correct image for the artist, band, music or film, but to choose the correct type of CD case that suits your project, image and importantly the budget.

Below we look at some of the popular CD and DVD case options available.


5" card sleeves or wallet

Printed card wallet for CD, DVD, blu-ray
Fig 1: Printed 5 inch card wallet

Card wallets or sleeves are five inches square, or about 125mm by 125mm. They can be fabricated with an opening to the side or on the top, the opening is determined from the orientation of your artwork as it's laid out on the design templates.

This sleeve is reminiscent of vinyl sleeves, but scaled down for optical media discs. This kind of packaging is ideal for release of a single or EP, or if the item is going to be for free hand-out. It works well for DVD show reels and films that are intended for free distribution such as with a newspaper or magazine cover mount.

The disc is secured in place by nothing but the snug fit of the printed wallet, but you do not have to be concerned with the disc falling out as this would only occur with quite vigorous shaking of the wallet. The 5" card wallet can be considered the most economically priced and a starting point for card based packaging.

Pros: Low environmental impact, most economical card case, light-weight so ideal for mail shots.

Cons: May not be substantial enough for a full music album or an item with a premium retail price.

4, 6 and 8 panel card wallet

digifile - 6 panel
Fig 2: 6 panel card wallet / digifile with 2 pockets

digifile
Fig 3: 4 panel card digifile


As the name suggests, there are a minimum 4 panels in total for your design and print, going up to 8 panels with the larger 8 panel wallet. This type of case is also known as a gate-fold wallet, digifile or digisleeve. The additional panels allow for more creatives to be included. This can include more information on the content, like a film synopsis in the case of a DVD or Blu-ray disc, or artist and band information for a music CD.

There are a variety of opening styles for the disc which are usually on the inside right panel. This can be a horizontal slot (digifile), or an opening to the left of the inside right panel which can be shaped as an oblong (thumb cut) or long curve, (crescent cut).

This is a case that is completely fabricated from card and as such has a lower carbon footprint due to the lack of plastics used in the manufacture process. It is ideal for mail-shots as the weight is low, (about 42 grams a unit including the disc), this keeps the cost of postage down.

Pros: Environmentally friendly, several customisations available for uniqueness, good for mail shots

Cons: None

4, 6, 8 and 10 panel Digipack

digipak 4 panel
Fig 4: A 4 panel digipak with clear tray

Whereas the jewel case was the de facto case for CD albums, digipacks have slowly come to surpass the jewel case as the preferred packaging for a high value CD or DVD release. Quite similar in appearance to 4, 6, and 8 panel card wallets, the main difference between the digipacks and fore mentioned wallets is the inclusion of one or more plastic trays on to which the disc is mounted. The trays are made of clear transparent plastic, therefore allowing for an additional panel beneath the tray with your custom design, or if you prefer we can supply the digipacks with a black or white, opaque tray. Digipacks can be configured with additional panels to include 6 panel digipacks, 8 panel digipacks and 10 panel digipacks, (known as Maltese Cross, or X shaped digipacks).

Once the tray has been glued into position, it adds to the overall strength and sturdiness of the case, ensuring longevity of shelf life for the CD and case. The digipacks come with ample space to include all the information you require, and as all the panels can be printed, it ensures no space is wasted.

If you require additional information to be contained and find that there are not enough panels on the digipacks for this, then the cases can be easily modified to include a booklet. In a 4 panel digipack, the booklet is placed on the inside left panel. The booklet is contained in the case using a choice of 3 methods. The booklet can be glued in to the digipacks, usually the back page is fully glued down on the inside left panel, which does mean you lose the ability to print to inside panel as well as the back page of the booklet, but the advantage is the booklet does not get separated and lost from the digipacks. If you'd prefer to maximise the viewable printed surfaces, then we can create an opening on the inside right of the left panel where the booklet can slide inside. However, if the booklet is more than 4 pages, then it can be quite an ordeal to insert and remove the booklet without causing damage to the digipacks, and so for a booklet with more than 4 pages a horizontal slot is created about half way down the inside left panel to hold the booklet. This is a good solution where a booklet may be quite thick due to the number of pages.

Pros: Very modern style, ideal combination of plastic and cardboard to create a strong and environmentally friendly case, options available for multiple page booklets.

Cons: None

Jewel cases

Jewel case
Fig 5: CD jewel case with clear tray

The jewel case is synonymous with CDs. It is the packaging that was first used for retails ready CDs and thus can be considered industry standard. The popularity of jewel cases has decreased in recent years, with digipacks and cardboard cases stealing some of the market share, however jewel cases still offer a classic packaging option, and its versatility and cost effectiveness will ensure they remain at the forefront of CD packaging.

Jewel cases can be provided with inserts that can be one sided or up to 36 pages, and the rear tray card can be one or two sided. In the case of a two sided rear tray card, a clear tray is used on the inside of the case so the print is visible through the tray once the disc is removed. The jewel case can contain CDs, DVDs or Blu-ray. The disc is placed on the inside right of the case, on a specially designed tray which secures the centre of the CD onto a hub or spider to ensure it does not move around inside the case and avoids damaged.

A couple of things to bear in mind with jewel cases is that they are made of rather brittle plastic that can crack or shatter if the case is dropped on to a hard floor or surface. Most common point of damage is to the hinges holding the two halves of the jewel case together. Additionally as the jewel case is predominantly a plastic based case; its environmental impact is greater than a card based CD packaging solution.

Pros: Traditional CD case that has withstood the test of time, cheaper than digipacks

Cons: Can be dated in looks, brittle plastics and heavy use of plastics through-out.

Super jewel case


Fig 6: Super jewel case

Super jewel cases are a modern take on the traditional jewel case. They are made of stronger plastics which are more robust to unexpected drops. The dimensions of the super jewel cases are the same as a regular jewel case, but have rounded corners and not ninety degree right angles as in regular jewel cases. Super jewel cases have a unique design layout for the rear tray card, that includes four spines, and particular shapes and cuts which mean they cannot be easily produced for short run duplication. Usually the minimum quantity for a super jewel case order is 500 units.

Pros: Stronger than a standard jewel case, very unique tray card with 4 spines

Cons: Quite expensive, minimum order quantity 500 units, lots of plastic used in the construction.

PVC wallets

PVC wallet with flap
Fig 7: Plastic PVC wallet with flap

By far the simplest and cheapest CD duplication packaging is PVC wallets. These wallets are made of soft clear plastic, and cost a matter of pennies each. PVC wallets are well suited when a disc is intended for free distribution say on the front of a magazine, and they usually have a tuck-able flap to make sure the CD cannot fall out easily. PVC wallets can be provided with a paper insert which is printed to hold more information about the CD. However, if you are considering a paper insert, then we'd recommend looking at 5 inch card sleeves as an alternative as the price of these is similar to a pvc wallet with insert. Further, the card sleeves does look better and again uses less plastics.

Pros: Cheapest of all cases, light-weight.

Cons: does not protect the disc too much, can look cheap.

Clam Shells

clam shell
Fig 8: A clear translucent clam shell

Clam shell or C shells as they are also known provide a more secure case than PVC wallet, as the cases are rigid. They are made from a more durable, flexible plastic so will not suffer from easy breakage like from being dropped. As the clam shell is hard, it does offer better protection than say a PVC wallet, however, clam shells do not have any holders for paper parts and therefore there are restrictions on how customised they can be made, but do offer an ideal solution for a light weight, protective case.

Pros: Cheaper than jewel cases, offers better protection than PVC wallets

Cons: No options for booklets or any inserts.

DVD cases


Fig 9: Clear DVD case

DVD cases were created for use with DVD film releases although they are versatile enough to be used with other discs such as CDs or Blu-ray. DVD cases are black (actually dark grey), or clear (actually translucent) in appearance. Other colours are available.

With a black case the outer inlay is printed one sided, whereas for a clear case, we recommend a two sided print so when you open the case, the reverse of the print is visible. DVD cases have hooks on the inside that can hold a DVD size booklet (little smaller than A5 in size). This booklet can be created to contain up to 100 pages, so you will always have ample capacity for your content. A standard DVD case has a 14mm spine, but we can also offer slim and super slim DVD cases which have 9mm and 7mm spines respectively. If more than 1 disc is to be placed in the case, then options are available to hold 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 discs into a single DVD case.

The plastic materials used to manufacture a DVD cases are a softer composite compared to jewel case plastics and can withstand more knocks. A DVD case is more voluminous in size compared to other cases, so can take up more shelf space.

Pros: Large size of case ensures it is noticeable on a shop rack next to other types of cases. Plastics not so brittle that they can crack easily.

Cons: Voluminous case, so can be a storage issue for a large quantity.

DVD digipacks

DVD digipack
Fig 10: DVD digipacks with clear tray and pocket for DVD booklet

The DVD digipack follows the same style guide as a CD digipacks. DVD digipacks are the same width and height as a DVD case and have a 7mm spine. They are made of cardboard which is custom printed with your designs. Once the card has been fabricated to size, a clear tray is placed on the inside right panel. There are a few variances in the style of tray such as disc holder in the centre or off-centre, trays that can hold 1 or 2 discs. The mount for the disc can be a spider or hub such as in a CD digipacks, or newer versions include a spring mounted DVD flexi tray. As standard, we offer the hub or spider for the disc to be held in position. If there is not enough room on the case to convey your design and message, then the DVD digipacks can be modified to hold a DVD size booklet, which can be glued into place or held in a pocket. This booklet can easily go from 4 pages up to 100+ pages.

Pros: Lot less plastic is used compared to DVD cases. A modern take on a traditional DVD case, more area for custom printed compared to a DVD case.

Cons: More expensive than a DVD case.

Summary

The above are descriptions of the most popular cases available for CD, DVD or blu-ray. Each style has its benefits and drawbacks, by gaining a further insight into the pros and cons of each case, the correct CD packaging style can be chosen for your DVD, CD or blu-ray duplication project.

To get started with your design, you can refer to our design templates page from where you can download free templates for any particular design or case type. If you do not see the template you require then send us an email, or call us and we can have this sent out via email.

If you require a completely custom case which has not be discussed above, or you are unable to see it on our site, then get in touch with us, as we can discuss your requirements and offer you a customised solution.

If you'd like to see samples of any of the above case styles, you can drop us an email with you contact details and we can post these out to you first class.