I loved the reorder function. It was really easy!
– Valerie, Washington University Medical School
Home ID Card Printers
Print on one
side of a card
Print on both
sides of a card
to your cards
Ideal for technology cards &
So, you've been asked to implement an employee badge or membership ID card program and are asking yourself: Where do I begin? Is it difficult, expensive, time consuming? You will be happy to hear that you can create your own ID badges in house, easily and cost effectively no matter how tech savvy you are (or are not!).
The foundation of a card printing program is an ID card printer. While the printing technology behind ID card printers is different than a regular desktop printer, they can be just as easy to use. Before you purchase an ID card printer, you'll probably want to do a bit of research.
To help you learn more about ID card printers, we invite you to watch the video series found on the following panels.
Simply put, a single-sided printer prints on one side of your cards and a dual-sided printer prints on both sides of your cards in one process.
Unsure what your future holds? Some single-sided printers can be upgraded to two-sided printing very easily. Plus, many single- and dual-sided printers offer easy upgrades to magnetic encoding and even lamination capability. If you are unsure whether your needs may change in the future, or perhaps you may be planning to expand how your cards will be used, we recommend shopping for a printer that offers upgrade options when you'll need them.
Barcodes are the least expensive way to "store and access" data on a card and require the least amount of equipment, yet they are also the least secure.
A barcode allows you to easily access data on a card and does not require an encoding ID card printer or software with encoding capabilities. This is because the data is not stored within the barcode, but rather electronically in a computer. You simply need to make sure that your printer ribbon has a black resin panel to create crisp, easy-to-scan barcodes.
Requirements: All card printers are capable of adding a 1-D or 2-D barcode to a plastic card. You will simply need a barcode scanner connected to a computer that contains the barcode's data to read the barcode.
While a barcode's information is kept in a computer, a magnetic stripe's information is stored within the magnetic stripe of the card. For example, when used for access control, each card holds data that will unlock preprogrammed doors. Simply swipe the card and, if you are a validated user of that door, it will unlock.
There are two types of magnetic stripe cards:
Requirements: In order to use magnetic stripe cards, you will need an ID card printer that is capable of magnetic stripe encoding and mid-level or fully-featured ID software.
Similar to a magnetic stripe card, data is stored within the smart card components. A smart card offers added functionality and can hold up to 100 times more data than a magnetic stripe. It can be reconfigured to add, erase, or edit hosted data. Smart cards can be categorized into two categories:
Note: Proximity cards are similar to contactless smart cards, but there are important differences. Proximity cards come pre-programmed, so do not need to be encoded. Some printers can read/verify data that has been written to a proximity card, but data on most* proximity cards cannot be added, erased, or edited.
Requirements: In order to use a contact or contactless smart card, you'll need a smart card encoding printer and fully-featured ID software. When ordering the printer, you'll need to specify whether you require contact or contactless encoding.
*Some cards, such as iClass cards, include non-editable, pre-programmed proximity data and a smart chip for encoding your own data.
If you recall the old days of cutting and pasting an ID card together, lamination may confuse you a bit. You might wonder why you would need lamination when printing directly to plastic.
In plastic card printing, lamination is a clear protective layer that is applied over the top of your printed cards by a printer with lamination capability. It offers three primary benefits to a plastic ID card:
This non-laminated ID card was placed in a badge holder in direct sunlight for 30 days. Due to the heat, the printed card image transfered from the card to the badge holder.
Lamination adds a layer of protection from everyday wear and tear. The cards at the right illustrate the durability of lamination.
Both cards were printed with a retransfer printer. The card on the left, however, is laminated, while the card on the right is not laminated.
Both cards were scratched with a set of keys. The laminated card is unscathed, while the non-laminated card is visibly damaged.
Many experienced card printer users are familiar with the white border that direct-to-card printers leave around the edge of cards. Retransfer printers, on the other hand, produce "over-the-edge" prints that cover the entire surface of your cards.
Direct-to-card printers print directly to the surface of cards. Any uneven surface of a card--including coming in contact with the edge of a card--can cause expensive printhead damage.
Retransfer printers, on the other hand, print your card image to a clear film (retransfer film) that is then fused onto the surface of the card. With this process, the printhead does not come in direct contact with your card, allowing you to print over the edge of your cards and to a wider variety of card surfaces including proximity cards, smart cards, pre-punched cards and key tag cards. Another benefit: retransfer printers produce imagery with rich, vibrant, saturated colors.
As you shop for an ID card printer, it's important to have an under- standing about what information, and how much information, will be included on your cards. The elements included on your cards will help determine the features you should look for in your ID printer. Some elements will require special equipment or supplies.
To learn more, view the next slide or view the PDFs below:
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