Sony has unveiled its newest Blu-ray manufacturing plant in western Sydney, which will produce both PlayStation games and movies, and is the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, and we got to see it.
The facility was officially opened last night by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, and Ghostbusters: The Video Game was allegedly one of the two discs he plucked off the production line.
The new plant is an extension of the existing DADC (Digital Audio Disc Corporation) factory, which also produces DVDs and CDs, and it is capable of printing 12 million Blu-rays a year.
The new extension houses three "injection molding" machines that make the physical discs: of which two are used to produce Blu-ray movies such as Twilight and Last Chance Harry, and the third is dedicated to PS3 games. That's 11,000 games produced every day!
The Sony DADC employee who showed us around the facility told us that the three machines currently only work six days a week — appropriate as the facility also produces discs for Hillsong — but this will be ramped up to seven days in the coming months to fulfil the Christmas demand.
The Minister for Communications Stephen Conroy is flanked by Sony bigwigs on the Blu-ray production line. Why is the guy on the left not wearing protective shoes? Arrest him!
Each disc goes through a series of stages beginning with the actual injection moulding of the disc. This is the machine set aside for PS3 games.
Each "pit" in the disc is only a fraction of a micrometre long, so the equipment used to produce each disc is very sensitive.
The facility also includes a printing press where the cover sleeve and booklets are made.
As the injection moulders are all encased it's not that exciting to watch, but Sony helpfully had a screen on-hand that showed the various stages the disc goes through including "embossing".
When finished, each disc is placed in its plastic case by this machine. It was definitely the most animated machine in the process, with spinning wheels and dials and even a little conveyor belt — all it needed was a diving man and it would have been Mouse Trap. The equipment scans each disc's barcode, inserts the disc into the correct box, inserts the cover sleeve and booklet, then applies external stickers and shrink-wrapping.
The Sony employee also said that the company is installing new CD manufacturing machines this week to cope with new demand. She was unable to explain why this was so — we even thought digital downloads were supposed to be killing CD sales.