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ID Card Printer and Photo Identification News from ID Wholesaler

ID Printer Cleanings: Essential as Oil Changes for Your Car!

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Why clean your ID card printer? Well, if you saw things from our side or, more importantly, our printer Why is it so important to clean your ID card printer?technician’s side of things, you would see that this simple function is often neglected and leads to bigger problems.

Think of it like this: the regular cleaning of your printer is very similar to regular oil changes for your car. If you drive, you know that if you don’t change the oil regularly, there are a number of things that can not-so-great things that can happen, including decreased performance and severe engine damage.

The same is true with cleaning your ID card printer. If you’re trying to use a dirty printer, you’ll definitely notice one or more of these things:

  • a reduction in overall print quality
  • an increase in re-printing cards
  • problems with feeding cards into the printer
  • potential damage to the printer’s printhead which can create lines running through your cards or even worse: a complete breakdown of your printing program

Many times, the printers that our customers send to our technicians for repair just need a good cleaning. Once that’s done, they typically run like new again. Actually, the percentage of printers that require this simple repair will surprise you … believe it or not, it’s well above 50%!Example of an ID card printer cleaning kit

Let’s take the car analogy one step further. Depending on the car you drive, we can assume that the average cost of an oil change is $35. That’s $35 every 3,500 miles over the life of a car is (again assuming that you drive 100,000 miles) is not even $1,000. Small potatoes in the grand scheme, right? Compare that to the cost of a total engine overhaul from not changing your oil, and that bill could run you upwards of $4,000+.

Bringing it back to the ID card printer, the manufacturer says to clean the printer after printing 500 to 1,000 cards. The cost of a multi-use ID card printer cleaning kit (ranging from 10 to 25 uses) is $18 to $40. If you print 50,000 cards over the life of a printer, it will need to be cleaned up to 100 times. That’s spending roughly $150 in cleaning supplies. Compare that to the cost of a new printhead which ranges Shop Our Cleaning Kitsfrom $400 to $800, and you can easily see the savings.

Now for the disclaimer … as we all know, engine breakdown is not just caused by neglecting to change your oil. There are times that simply putting miles on your car can create problems that will cause you to replace your engine. The same is true for your ID printer. Time and your use of the printer can cause a printhead to need repair or replacing.

Quick TipThe card printer cleaning kits we carry generally include printhead cleaning swabs or cleaning pens, cleaning pads, and cleaning cards..

The moral of the story is that by simple, proper maintenance we can save a lot of $$ in the long run and maximize the performance of your ID card printer. So, please: don’t forget to add the ID card printer cleaning kit and cleaning supplies to your next order! You’ll be glad you did.

If you need help choosing a cleaning kit or cleaning supplies for your ID card printer, call a knowledgeable ID Professional at (800) 321-4405 x2 or chat now. We’re here to help!

How Does a Magnetic Stripe Encoder Work?

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HiCo & LoCo Magnetic Stripe Cards

A magnetic stripe encoder is a hardware device that can write information or data onto a plastic PVC card. Magnetic stripe encoding allows ID badges to serve as more than just simple visual identification.  Also called a “swipe card,” magnetic encoded cards are used in a variety of multi-functional card programs like:

  • access control
  • ticketing
  • time and attendance tracking
  • school lunch programs

The term “magnetic stripe” or “magstripe” refers to the black or brown magnetic stripe on one side of the card. The stripe itself is made of magnetic particles of resin. The amount of resin particle material within the stripe determines the coercivity of the stripe. The higher the coercivity, the harder it is to encode and erase the information on the stripe.

How Does a Magstripe Encoder Work?

There are two different magnetic stripe cards to choose from: high coercivity (“HiCo”) and low coercivity (“LoCo”) cards. Both types of cards can hold the same amount of data; the main difference is the security and durability either offers.

High-Coercivity Stripes
HiCo stripes are encoded at 2750 Oersted (the unit of magnetic coercive force used to define difficulty of erasure of magnetic material) and are generally black in color. They store information on a more secure basis than low-coercivity magnetic stripes because of the higher level of magnetic energy required to encode them.

Information is harder to erase on HiCo cards; therefore, they are most frequently used in applications where cards are swiped often and require a long life (e.g., credit card applications).

Low-Coercivity Stripes
LoCo stripes are encoded at 300 Oersted. Low-coercivity stripes are generally brown and store information less securely than high-coercivity magnetic stripes. LoCo magnetic stripe cards are typically used in applications like metro transit ticketing or hotel room access control.

What Information is Stored on Magnetic Stripe Cards?

If you’re not printing on either of these magnetic PVC cards but you need to add digital information to your cards, I recommend investing in the MSR206-33 Three-Track Magnetic Stripe Reader & Encoder. This full-feature device reads and writes both high- and low-coercivity magnetic stripes (300-4000 Oersted). It can encode up to three tracks of data and is backed by a three-year manufacturer warranty.

For example, the following is the amount of data that can be encoded to a magnetic stripe (per ISO 7811 format):

  • Track 1: 210 bits/inch (BPI), 7 bits/character (MPC), maximum of 79 alpha-numeric characters.Shop Magnetic Stripe Encoders
  • Track 2: 75 bits/inch (BPI), 5 bits/character (MPC), maximum of 40 numeric characters.
  • Track 3: 210 bits/inch (BPI), 5 bits/character (MPC), maximum of 107 numeric characters.

Another benefit is the MSR206-33 magnetic encoder is that it allows you to “read” what’s encoded on the magnetic stripe of a card. It’s ideal for credit card verification and other types of card-related applications which don’t require printing on the actual card.

Additional Considerations When Buying a Magstripe Encoder

If you’re exploring the option of printing and encoding your ID cards, we have several solutions designed for multiple requirements. In addition, most of our ID card printers are upgradeable to a magnetic encoder module.

Finally, it’s very important to select the right software when you’re implementing a magnetic stripe card to your application. Before purchasing software, make sure to confirm it’s compatible with encoding magnetic stripe cards.

If you have questions about selecting the right card, hardware and software for your magnetic encoding application, contact a knowledgeable ID Professional at (800) 321-4405 x2 or chat now. We’re here to help!

Finding Supplies for Discontinued ID Card Printers

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There’s no getting around the aging process. It happens to everyone and virtually every thing … including ID card printers.Visit Our Discontinued Printer Support Page

If your printer has joined the ranks of a model that has been discontinued but is still in fine working order, the news couldn’t be better, especially if you (and your budget) aren’t quite ready for a printer upgrade.

From Fargo and Evolis ID card printers to Magicard, Nisca, Datacard, and pretty much every model in between, we have the supplies you need to keep your printer functioning and your ID card program in business.

Whether you need color or monochrome ribbons, laminates, cleaning supplies, printheads, printer parts, or accessories, simply locate your printer on our Discontinued Printers page, click into the product page of the discontinued printer you need to buy supplies for, and view the “Related Products” tab.

In most cases, our convenient Supplies Selector can help you find the supplies necessary for keeping your discontinued printer running smoothly and efficiently.

As always, if you’re unable to find exactly what you’re looking for, just call a friendly and knowledgeable ID Professional at (800) 321-4405 x2 or chat now. We’re here to help!

Download NBS ImageMaster D-40 Driver Updates

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The most recent NBs ImageMaster D-40 Monochrome Printer driver and firmware updates are the best way to get the most out of your card printing program. In addition to improving your ID card printer’s performance, you’ll also maintain a more consistent ID badge quality.NBS ImageMaster Monochrome Printer

We’ve assembled a variety of helpful resources that you’ll need to properly maintain your printer and keep it operating efficiently, including the latest drivers, firmware updates, user manual, and extended warranty plans.

Access the NBS ImageMaster D-40 Drivers, Firmware & More:

Quick TipYou can also find this information for any of the ID card printers we sell and support in the “Support & Downloads” tab on each printer product detail page.

If you have additional questions about the NBS ImageMaster D-40 Monochrome Printer, just give one of our knowledgeable ID Professionals a call at (800) 321-4405 x2 or chat now!

How to Choose the Right ID Badge Maker

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Trying to select an ID badge maker for your business can seem like an impossible task. There are so many brands available onWoman Making an ID Badge with ID Card Printer the market, and each brand has several feature sets and options. How do you decide?

Well, there’s not a simple answer to this question. Over the years, I’ve worked with every type of organization to help each find a solution that fits their needs, from small businesses to large corporations, including healthcare, government, schools, and non-profits.

At ID Wholesaler, we carry every brand of card printer. Best of all, when you buy your ID badge maker from us, we’ve got your back with our IDW Care Promise. Learn more about this valuable (and free!) plan.

When you’re trying to determine which type of ID card printer will best accommodate your business requirements, there are a few questions you’ll need to answer. These include:

How many cards will you be printing each year?
An organization that has 50 employees will probably not be looking at the same type of ID card printer system as an organization of 1,000 employees. Understanding about how many cards you’ll print each year will definitely help you narrow down your printer choices.

Are you printing on one side or both sides of your cards?

Single-sided printers are generally a great option if you’ll only be printing your information on one side of your ID cards. Direct-to-Card Printer with CardsHowever, if you want to print on both sides of your cards, I recommend investing in a dual-sided printer. Some customers who think a single-sided printer is what they want will ask, “Can’t I just flip my cards if I want content on both sides of my cards?” Technically, you can. But I would not advise it.

What can happen is oils and dirt from your hands and fingers can get on the surface of the cards while you’re flipping them manually. Once you put them back through the printer, this debris can seriously damage (or destroy) the printer’s printhead. Replacing this key component of your printer can cost $400 – $800, depending on the model you own.

Will you be incorporating any technology in the cards?

There are many different types of technology that can be incorporated into your ID program: barcodes, magnetic stripe cards, proximity cards, and smart cards. You’ll want to make sure you consult with one of our Account Managers to ensure your system can operate with the type of technology you need.

What’s the difference between a direct-to-card printer and a retransfer printer?
Direct-to-card printing is the process used to transfer images directly onto plastic cards by heating a print ribbon beneath a Chat with an ID Professionalthermal printhead. This type of printing technology is a combination of two printing methods: dye sublimation and resin thermal transfer.

Reverse image transfer (also called “retransfer”) involves the card image first being printed onto a transparent retransfer film that is then fused onto the card’s surface. Retransfer printing provides exceptional quality images and the ability to print on uneven card surfaces (e.g., proximity cards that have internal components).

Do your ID badges need to be extra durable or last more than a year?
Lamination will add another layer of protection to the cards to prevent the ink from rubbing off or fading. So if you want your badges to last as long as possible then, then I recommend giving some serious consideration to a printer with lamination capabilities.

How long do you want the printer to last?
Each printer brand has entry-level, mid-level and industrial-level ID card printers. If you want a printer to last, then you will want to look at a mid-level or higher solution.

What type of computer will you connect the printer to?
Most printers will work with a PC, and a select few will work with a Mac computer. However, not all printers have each of the current drivers for newer operating systems. It’s always best to check with an ID Wholesaler Account Manager.

If you want to do your own research, our website features a wide variety of resources to help you make your decision – from videos on how an ID card printer works, to case studies explaining real life solutions, and blogs that offer timely help and insight. You can always call one of our friendly ID Professionals today at (800) 321-4405 x2 or chat now. We’re here to help!

Benefits of Magicard HoloKote and HoloKote FLEX

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Magicard HoloKote™ is an effective and budget-friendly solution for an organization looking to add an

Example of Standard HoloKote Watermark

This is an example of the standard HoloKote globes pattern.

additional level of security to their ID cards. Magicard’s proprietary HoloKote technology is featured on all Magicard ID card printers (excluding all Prima printer models).

HoloKote provides a unique visual security layer that’s similar to holographic film or laminate. It adds a hologram-like image onto the surface of cards through the overlay (“O”) panel of the ribbon during the printing process.

Available in both standard and custom holographic styles, HoloKote provides a variety of security options for a diverse set of business needs. Standard HoloKote images are free because the HoloKote image is created during the application of the “O” panel on a YMCKO or YMCKOK color ribbon. As a result, there are no additional printing costs.

Sample of Standard Holokote Holograms

This is an example of Magicard’s HoloKote FLEX custom watermark.

If you decide to have a custom design created with a unique HoloKote image – such as your company’s name, logo, slogan or other desired text, there is a modest one-time set-up charge for encrypting your custom artwork on a key.

The watermark-style image that is visible only when the PVC card is held at an angle. The entry-level Magicard printer models include a standard image when you purchase the printer (available on the Pronto, Enduro, Enduro Duo, and Rio Pro).

In addition to the standard HoloKote patterns, Magicard’s high-end printers give you the ability to create a custom HoloKote FLEX™ Key. This upgradable option is available on select Magicard printers.

The HoloKote FLEX key offers the ability to lock your printer as well as create a custom HoloKote image. In the past, the layout of the custom HoloKote image was restricted to a pattern where the image was repeated six times across the card in four rows (see below).Chat with an ID Professional

HoloKote FLEX provides additional flexibility with the layout of your customized watermark image. It enables you to place a single larger image or company logo anywhere on the card.

Who Can Use HoloKote?
HoloKote is a recommended application for government agencies, colleges, universities, ski areas, water parks, amusement parks or any organization looking for a cost-efficient way to increase card security for identification or for season passes.

With HoloKote from Magicard, you’ll not only be able to create a professional-looking ID or membership card; it also ensures that your ID cards do not get duplicated.

If HoloKote or HoloKote FLEX is an option you would like to incorporate into your ID card issuance program, you can always call an ID Professional to walk you through the pricing information as well as the artwork requirements. Call us today at (800) 321-4405 x2 or chat now. We’re here to help!

Benefits of Graphic-quality PVC Cards

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Graphic-quality PVC Cards

When it comes to plastic cards, it’s important to consider quality. All direct-to-card printers (also called “dye sublimation printers”) require the use of a card with a PVC (polyvinyl chloride) surface.

The type of cards used in ID card printing is directly related to the quality of the finished product. We recommend high-quality or graphic-quality PVC cards at all times.

Graphic quality cards have clean edges, flat surfaces and are free of surface contaminates (fingerprints or dust). All high-quality cards are visually inspected or optically scanned by the manufacturer to verify and ensure their cleanliness.

The four major benefits of PVC cards include:

  1. Efficient elimination of wasted supplies  – You’re bound to waste consumables (e.g., card stock and ribbons) if you’re consistently printing and then reprinting your cards.
  2. Minimal time wasted – You’ll also waste time with printing and reprinting cards when they don’t turn out correctly the first time through the printer.
  3. Optimal image quality – Both card supplies and time are wasted when you’re forced to reprint cards because they did not meet your quality requirements when you printed them the first time. When you use graphic-quality PVC cards, you’ll ensure the best image quality possible for your printer.Shop Our ID Cards
  4. Maximized printhead life – Printheads are one of the most costly parts to replace on a printer. Poor quality cards are more likely to have ridges or dust in or on the card surface. These minor imperfections increase the chance of damaging the delicate ceramic surface of a printhead.

How to Keep Your Cards Clean
PVC cards should always be stored in the original packaging to help keep them clean and free of dust and/or static electricity.

It’s also a good idea to handle the cards on on their edges instead of touching either the top or bottom surfaces that get printed. This is because the dirt and/or oils from your fingers will interfere with the image quality on your cards. In addition, these types of debris can and can damage your printer.

All brands of printers offer recommendations for regular cleaning. By following these regimented cleaning schedules, you can help ensure the longer life of your printhead.

If you want more information about the high-quality PVC cards we carry, you can trust the expertise of our  ID Professionals! Call us today at (800) 321-4405 x2 or chat now.

Single or Dual-sided Card Printer: Which is Right for Me?

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Many folks come to ID Wholesaler specifically looking for an ID card printer. They typically ask me whether a dual-sided IDExample of a Dual-sided ID Card badge printer is the right choice or if a single-sided printer is sufficient for their specific printing needs. That’s not an easy question to answer without first knowing a few things.

For example:  if you’re designing your cards to feature an employee’s photo and your organization’s name and logo on one side, and you’re printing a total of between 50 -100 cards, a single-sided ID card printer will more than likely fit the bill.

However, if you’re planning to feature employee and/or company information on the front and back of the card, we definitely recommend investing in a dual-sided (also referred to as a “duplex”) ID card printer.

Dual-sided printers are designed with a mechanism called a “flipper” which actually flips the card over inside the printer. This prints to both sides of your card simultaneously – in a single pass – which can equate to substantial savings when it comes to Browse Single-sided Printerstime. And time is money! This works especially well in large organizations that have a large or consistent volume of new hires by reducing the printing time.

If you work in an industry like healthcare, you know that it’s a mandatory requirement to have your ID card displayed properly on your person 100% of the time. With an ID card that’s printed on both sides, a healthcare worker’s information will always be visible.

When it comes to deciding whether a single-sided printer or a dual-sided printer will best accommodate your business requirements, there’s one very important thing you need to know. Using a single-sided card printer to do the job of a dual-sided printer is a cumbersome and costly idea.

There are several good reasons not to do this:

  • The ID card template used for printing and populating the front of a card will be entirely separate from the template and the data for the back of the card.Browse Dual-sided Printers
  • After printing the front side of your card, you will have to manually flip the card to print the back side. Essentially, this can double your production time.
  • Manually flipping cards means that you’ll probably touch the card surface before it’s printed. Cards contaminated with harmful debris like oils from your fingers or airborne dust may cause the dyes to be improperly applied or, worse yet, cause expensive printhead damage.
  • In most cases, you simply need to print one-color text on the back of a card. Using your standard color ribbon to print one-colored text is a tremendous waste of your colored inks.
  • Lastly, customers must consider their budgets. Typically, single-sided printers are less expensive than the dual-sided printers. The single-sided option may be a good choice for a company with a lower budget.

At the end of the day, your company will need to consider the cost of the printer, time, and supply savings that can be achieved with a dual-sided printer.

For more information on either single-sided or dual-sided printing, rely on the knowledge and expertise of our  ID Professionals! Call us today at (800) 321-4405 x2 or chat now.

Download NBS ImageMaster S-18 Driver Updates

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Get the most out of your card printing program with the latest NBD ImageMaster S-18 driver and firmware updates. Not only NBS ImageMaster S-18 Monochrome Printer
will you improve your monochrome printer’s performance, but you’ll also maintain consistent ID card quality.

Here are all the helpful resources you’ll need to properly maintain your printer and keep it running efficiently, including the latest drivers, firmware updates, user manual, and extended warranty plans.

Access the NBS ImageMaster S-18 Drivers, Firmware & More:

Quick TipYou can also find this information for any of the ID card printers we sell and support in the “Support & Downloads” tab on each printer product detail page.

If you have additional questions about the NBS ImageMaster S-18, just give one of our knowledgeable ID Professionals a call at (800) 321-4405 x2 or chat now!

Retransfer vs Direct-To-Card Printing: Which is Right for Me?

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Direct-to-card vs. Retransfer PrintingRetransfer vs. Direct-to-Card Printing

If you’ve been researching ID card printers for your organization, it’s easy to get confused by all the terms relative to this type of printing. If you have, you’ve probably realized that there are two distinct types of printing for ID cards and badges:  direct-to-card (also referred to as “dye sublimation”) and retransfer (also called “reverse transfer”) printing.

Although there are several differences between these types of printing technologies, if you’re new to the industry, you may not understand these differences.

At ID Wholesaler, we’ve helped thousands of customers choose the right ID card printer solutions for their unique business requirements. We’ve assisted them with evaluating which technology would best serve their organization’s specific application.

To help you with your research, we’ve assembled some of the most important printer features and functionality so you can decide which printing method is the right choice for your business. The differences in the printing process create tangible differences in the final appearance of the card, and the ID card printing possibilities.

Direct-to-card printing is the most common type of printing technology. They have a printhead housed inside which is equipped with tiny glass pixels. The pixels fuse the colored ink onto the surface of the plastic cards (hence the name “direct-to-card!”).Browse Dye-Sublimation ID Card Printers

With the dye sublimation process, you will not have full card coverage. Instead, you’ll have a small white border around the edge, because the printhead is not able to go over the edge of the cards. Direct-to-card printers provide faster print speeds and a lower cost per card than the reverse transfer (retransfer) printers. In addition, these types of printers are engineered to print onto standard PVC cards as well as adhesive-backed plastic cards.

This type of printing produces average quality cards at higher print speeds and is more economical than reverse transfer.

Direct-to-card (dye sublimation) benefits: 

  • More economical
  • Faster print speeds
  • Average quality

Reverse transfer printing, also known as retransfer printing, is a higher-end technology that produces crisp, vibrantly colored, high-definition cards. Like dye sublimation, the retransfer printing method uses a heated printhead and ribbon. But unlike dye sublimation, retransfer printer adds an additional step with a clear film.

First, the card’s design is printed on the clear film. During the printing process, the film is thermally fused to the card’s surface. This extra step results in slower print speeds than dye sublimation printing, but it does offer exceptionally superior visual print quality.

Retransfer printing produces true over-the-edge printing, because the clear film that’s applied to the card’s surface is actually larger than the card itself. Retransfer printers are ideal for organizations that have higher-than-average graphic standards, Browse Retransfer Printersrequire extra durable cards, and/or need to print on technology cards like proximity cards. If the image quality is an important determining factor in your purchase, retransfer printing is the very best type of printing within the industry.

Since the printhead never comes into direct contact with the uneven surface of the card, reverse transfer printing is the optimal choice for printing on technology and smart cards that have delicate internal components (Note: this is why we strongly recommend not using a direct-to-card printer for technology cards; contact with the card will seriously damage the printhead, rendering it unusable).

Reverse transfer printing actually lengthens the duration of the printer’s lifecycle, because the printhead never touches the card during the printing process. This is why the majority of reverse transfer printers come with a lifetime printhead warranty.

Because of the sophisticated technology and capabilities, reverse transfer printers are more expensive than dye sublimation printers. In addition, the cost-per-card is also comparatively higher due to the extra film that is used in the printing process. However, this film provides more durability to handle the normal daily wear and tear. It’s also perfect for more intricately detailed card designs – along with holographic features – for a more secure card that cannot be duplicated.

When looking at the “big picture,” it’s important to know that the long-term savings on printhead maintenance costs alone make retransfer printers a better investment.

Retransfer (over-the-edge) printer benefits:

  • Superior image quality
  • More feasible long-term Investment (e.g., reduced cost of ownership over time)
  • Lifetime printhead warranty
  • More printing flexibility
  • Added card durability
For additional information about both direct-to-card printing and retransfer printing, you can always rely on the expertise of our  ID Professional today at (800) 321-4405 x2 or chat now. We’re here to help!