Plastics News correspondent Roger Renstrom compiled these items at the ITA International Recording Media Association's Magnetic & Optical Media Seminar, held Oct. 28-29 in Palm Springs, Calif.
Aging CDs focus of Dow Chemical tests
Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, Mich., reported on analytical techniques that stress audio compact discs and CD-ROMs.
Dow conducted accelerated-aging tests to try to better understand what causes stress and failure and to demonstrate how disc makers can use detection methods. The tests help predict how a polycarbonate disc may perform over its projected lifetime.
``The control of raw materials, selection of additives and a clean polymer process with effective filtering technology reduce the contribution of the PC substrate to accelerated aging failures,'' William Lutz, Dow development leader in optical media, said in an ITA presentation.
Moisture-absorbing particles in a PC substrate or defects in an aluminum or lacquer layer can cause pinhole failures in optical discs. Dow's research offers disc producers analytical methods to identify and isolate the cause of pinholes, he said.
Philips Components hones DVD technology
A groove molding challenge has been keeping Philips Components from taking its rewritable digital versatile discs to market.
``We're getting closer to the point we want to be,'' said Jan Bernards, senior development engineer for Philips' optical disc technology in Eindhoven, Netherlands.
``At the moment, we are finding we compromise to have discs with good enough tilt while also having good groove replication. We need somewhat higher temperatures for DVD pit replication for single layer and dual layer'' to facilitate bending requirements, he said. But those temperatures can knock radial and tangential tilts out of specification, he noted.
Philips Components is a unit of Philips Electronics NV.
ITA exec dissects media-format trends
In opening the Magnetic & Optical Media Seminar, Charles Van Horn, ITA executive vice president, reported on divergent recording-media format trends and the difficulty of making correct business decisions in this environment.
Firms need to watch for and follow ``the format that provides the clearest and most obvious advantages [and] the marketers who present their case with the most conviction by addressing the most basic consumer needs,'' Van Horn said.
``Our business model or plans can be changed overnight due to consumer demand for a hot music artist or a software program like Windows '98,'' he said. He added that digital-versatile-disc technology ``seems to be building momentum in entertainment and hardware companies, but more immediate success is expected from the data side of the business because of the industry's insatiable need for ever more storage.
``Less than 30 million households worldwide are expected to own a new video format player ... by the year 2000,'' he said. More than 350 million households own a VHS player now. He added the VHS format ``refuses to stop growing [and] continues to keep expanding despite naysayers who claim that tape is dead.''
MiniDisc prepares for musical future
Industry consultant Laurence Lueck predicted that Sony's MiniDisc is a key to the portable audio business, both as a recordable medium and a vehicle to distribute recorded music.
Lueck is president of Magnetic Media Information Services, a Tokyo-based consulting service.
The 65-millimeter MiniDisc is ``the ideal music distribution format of the future,'' he said.
Lueck said the per-copy cost is as low as 7 cents without packaging and that a MiniDisc with a capacity of 650 megabytes can play about 74 minutes of music.
``Demand is going through the roof in Asia just now, the first-year sales in Europe are far better than projected and the 1998 target is the U.S.,'' he said.
Sony Recording Music Co. manufactures and licenses the MiniDisc technology.