Find frequently used terms, acronyms, and definitions within the ID badge industry.
A means of granting or denying access to information processing systems or entrance to physical spaces, commonly facilitated by plastic cards with a magnetic stripe, a smart chip or proximity technology.
A code consisting of a group of printed and variously patterned bars and spaces, and sometimes numerals, that are designed to be scanned and read into computer memory as identification for the object it labels.
One-dimensional barcodes are also known as 1-D or linear barcodes. 1-D barcodes consist of a single row of bars. 1-D barcodes store a smaller amount of data than two-dimensional barcodes and are therefore more suited for applications in which only a few characters are stored. 1-D barcodes store their data in the horizontal width and the information stored is highly redundant. They are therefore more resistant to data degradation. An example of a 1-D barcode is Code 39.
(2-D) 2-D barcodes store more information than 1-D barcodes and take advantage of both their horizontal and vertical dimensions to do so. An example of a 2-D barcode is PDF417.
Utilizes “something you are” to authenticate identification. This may include a fingerprint, DNA, retinal pattern, iris, hand geometry, vein pattern, voice password or signature dynamics. Biometrics can be used with a smart card to authenticate the user. The user’s biometric information is stored on a smart card, the card is placed in a reader, and a biometric scanner reads the information to match it against that on the card. This is a fast, accurate and highly-secure form of user authentication.
A short range radio technology aimed at simplifying communications among Internet devices and between devices and the Internet. It also aims to simplify data synchronization between Internet devices and other computers.
(Common Access Card) Is a smart card issued by the US Department of Defense (DoD) as a standard identification for active-duty military personnel, reserve personnel, civilian employees, non-DoD government employees and state employees of the National Guard and eligible contractor personnel. CAC cards are used as a general identification card as well as for authentication to grant access to DoD computers, networks and facilities. CAC establishes an authoritative process for the use of identity credentials.
Fargo Electronics, Teslin-based CR80 size cards exhibit a surface that is specially formulated for thermal inkjet printing. CardJet inks bond to cards and dry instantly, without smearing. CardJet cards stand up well to abrasion, dye-migration and UV fading.
Discontinued printing technology by Persona by Fargo that uses an HP inkjet-based print engine to transfer color and monochrome inks onto specially formulated CardJet cards. This particular inkjet printing process involves heating the inks within an ink cartridge. This heat generates vapor bubbles that are ejected in tiny droplets through nozzles in the ink cartridge. These droplets form text and images on the printable card surface which then bond and dry instantly. Example printers are the CardJet 410 and CardJet C7.
A card hopper is a device that holds cards either prior to being printed (input hopper) or catches the card after it has been printed (output hopper). They also to keep cards clean and contaminate-free.
A piece of semi-conducting material (usually composed of silicon) on which an integrated circuit is embedded. It is fitted inside an ID card that is used to store user information and access privileges; also provides added security to prevent card counterfeiting.
Its purpose is to assist in keeping a card printer clean and to maintain the key parts of the printer including the printhead, transport rollers and magnetic encoding station. Some card printer manufacturers (e.g., Magicard) recommend cleaning the printer with a cleaning card each time the ribbon is replaced.
Consists of an adhesive surface that picks up debris from blank cards. Some card printer manufacturers (e.g., Magicard) recommend replacing the cleaning roller after every 1000 prints or sooner.
Comma Separated Values
(CSV) A file format in which individual data values are separated from each other by commas. An ID card software that offers CSV database connection allows you to access records from your stored CSV text files.
Composite cards are also known as comp cards, PET cards, or PET/PVC cards. Composite cards are made of layers of PVC material, with a polyester layer, or core, sandwiched in the middle. Whereas standard PVC cards are 100% PVC, composite cards are 40% ployester (PET) and 60% PVC. This combination of PVC and polyester makes them stronger, more durable and more resistant to high heat than standard PVC cards. Because of their resistance to heat, composite PET cards are recommended for use in retransfer card printers and laminating card printers.
Contact Smart Card
Contact smart cards include an embedded memory chip or an embedded memory plus microprocessor chip that is visible on the surface of the card. In order to be read, contact smart cards need to be inserted into a reader. To be read, the pads on the card’s chip and the pins in the reader need to make contact, hence, “contact” cards.
Contactless Smart Card
Contactless smart cards include a chip and an antenna on the inside of the card–they are not visible on the surface of the card. Communication between contactless smart cards and a card reader is wireless; the card simply needs to pass the reader to be read. No direct contact needs to be made between the card and the reader, hence, “contactless” cards. (Note: read distance and speed varies by card and reader type.)
Cut and Paste
Refers to the manual and outdated process of creating ID cards. This process involves taking a photo, manually cropping it and sticking it onto a card and then laminating it with a thermal laminator.
(Dots per inch) Measurement of a printer’s resolution. For example, 600 DPI indicates that the printer can produce 600 dots of color in each inch of a card. NOTE: When judging color reproduction for a CardJet card printer, the inkjet resolution must be at 2400 DPI or better to achieve the color equivalent of a 300 DPI dye-sub printer.
Debitek (Debit) Stripe
Also referred to as a ‘junk stripe’ because it is often used for purchases from candy vending machines. Debit stripes are generally encoded at 4000 Oersted. Because the stripe is thinner (1/8″) than the standard high or low coercivity magnetic stripe, it can only contain information specifically for use with the debit system.
A camera that records images in digital form. Unlike a traditional analog camera that records infinitely variable intensities of light, a digital camera records discrete numbers for storage on a flash memory card, for example. There is a fixed, maximum resolution and number of colors that can be represented. Images are transferred to a computer with a USB cable, memory card or wireless.
(DTC) The process used to transfer images directly onto plastic cards by heating a print ribbon beneath a thermal printhead. DTC printing technology is a combination of two printing methods: dye sublimation and resin thermal transfer.
(Dye diffusion, dye-sub) The print process ID card printers use to print smooth, continuous-tone and photo-quality images. This process uses a dye-based ribbon roll that is divided into a series of color panels. The color panels are grouped in a repeating series of three separate colors along the length of the ribbon: yellow, magenta, and cyan (YMC). As the ribbon and card pass simultaneously beneath the printhead, hundreds of thermal elements heat the dyes on the ribbon. Once the dyes are heated, they vaporize and diffuse into the surface of the card. Varying the heat intensity of each thermal element within the printhead makes it possible for each transferred dot of color to vary in saturation. This blends one color into the next. The result is continuous-tone, photo-realistic color images.
(Edgeless/over-the-edge) Refers to the maximum printable area on a card. Printers with edge-to-edge printing capability can print just to the edge of a card resulting in printed cards with virtually no border. Nearly all brands print standard CR80 cards edge-to-edge.
(Fingerprint capture device, fingerprint scanner) A form of biometrics technology in which a scanner is used to identify a person’s fingerprint for security purposes. After a sample is taken, access is granted if the fingerprint matches the stored sample.
(Federal Information Processing Standards)
A standard for adoption and use by Federal departments and agencies that was developed by the US Department of Commerce. FIPS covers topics in information technology to achieve a common level of quality or level of interoperability, allowing any government facility or information system to verify a cardholder’s identity using the credentials on the PIV card.
(F) The F panel of a dye-sub printer ribbon allows you to print fluorescent grayscale text or images that are only visible with ultraviolet (UV) light. Using the F panel of a ribbon allows you to economically add a covert security feature to your printed ID cards.
(General Services Administration) A United States government organization that establishes pre-negotiated pricing for a variety of business-related equipment, products, and services for purchase by federal agencies. ID Wholesaler is GSA listed and stocks a comprehensive line of GSA-approved photo ID card printers, printer supplies, and ID badge accessories.
(Fine line pattern or design) An overt, visual security element consisting of a pattern of curving and overlapping fine lines on a card. Guilloche patterns produce an illusion of motion when viewed at certain angles and therefore can be verified by the naked eye but not reproduced via a desktop printer.
Half Panel YMCKO Ribbon
Consists of half of the normal yellow (Y), magenta (M) and cyan (C) color panels, but full panels of the black (K) and clear overlay (O). The objective of this ribbon is to allow twice the normal ribbon yield than the standard YMKCO ribbon at a lower cost per card. YMCKO half panel ribbon is ideal for cards when a color ID picture is needed, along with some background black resin text, logo or barcode printing. Practical applications include student ID cards, employee ID cards and driver’s licenses. See how a half panel ribbon compares to a standard full panel ribbon.
(HiCo) Magnetic coding on a magnetic stripe. HiCo stripes are encoded at 2750 Oersted. HiCo stripes are generally black and store information on a more secure basis than low coercivity magnetic stripes, due to the higher level of magnetic energy required to encode them. Information is harder to erase on HiCo cards; therefore, they are common in applications where cards are swiped often and require a long life (e.g., credit card applications).
High Definition Printing
(HDP) This process prints full color images onto clear or holographic HDP transfer film. The HDP film is then fused to the card through heat and pressure via a heated roller. This revolutionary technology enhances protection against card tampering and everyday wear and tear, in addition to consistently producing the best card color available. HDP printing is ideal for printing on cards with uneven surfaces or unique features, such as proximity cards, smart cards and tough-to-print matte-finished cards. An example of HDP printing is the series of Fargo HDP5000 printers.
A unique photographic printing that provides a three dimensional (3D) effect on a flat surface; usually applied to ID cards as a laminate but can also be built into blank card stock. Holograms cannot be easily copied and are used for visual security and aesthetic purposes on cards.
A tamper-evident, instantly verifiable 3-D image in a high resolution hologram embedded onto a card. Fargo standard and custom HoloMark cards provide an added level of protection against ID counterfeiting. For use with Fargo Direct-to-Card (DTC) series card printers/encoders.
A Fargo-brand peel-and-stick 3-D seal that if removed from a card, is not reusable. A checkerboard pattern will appear to indicate both the card and the seal have been tampered with. The HoloMark seal is a quick, economical way to augment the security of an existing card.
(Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12) HSPD 12 established the requirements for a common identification standard for identification credentials issued by Federal departments and agencies to Federal employees and contractors for gaining physical access to Federally controlled facilities and logical access to Federally controlled information systems.
A printer or an all-in-one unit that ejects fast-drying ink through tiny nozzles onto a page to form characters. The inkjet is currently the standard for personal computer printing. Inkjets are fast, affordable and relatively quiet; they provide high quality graphics, and print in color.
Input Card Hopper
An ID card printer apparatus that holds cards before they are printed. Input hoppers expedite the printing process and help prevent card contamination, ensuring the very best possible print quality.
A connection standard for transferring data that is recognized by all PCs or Macintosh computers. For example, a parallel printer port is a common interface found on virtually all PCs for transferring data from the computer to a printer. Other interfaces include USB and ethernet.
International Organization for Standardization
(ISO) In the ID card printing industry for example, ISO defines specifications for magnetic stripe encoding. Printer encoders generally support dual high/low coercivity and tracks 1, 2 and 3.Refer to printer specifications.
(Overlamination) The process of combining lamination material and core material using time, heat and pressure. Available in clear or holographic designs and in varying thicknesses, laminate patches used in card printers come on rolls, with and without carriers/liners and are typically used for high usage cards (e.g., cards that must be swiped through a reader) or to add advanced visual card security.
Some card printer manufacturers (e.g., Fargo Electronics) provide a lockable card hopper door. This lock is intended to help prevent theft of your blank card stock. This feature is especially helpful if using valuable card stock such as pre-printed cards, smart cards, or cards with built-in security features such as holograms.
(LoCo) Magnetic coding on a magnetic stripe. 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 often used in hotel room access control applications.
(Minimum advertised pricing) The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) or an alternative factory-established price that some products are required to be advertised at. Our prices are always much lower than MAP pricing!
(Magstripe) Refers to the black or brown magnetic stripe on a card. The stripe is made of magnetic particles of resin. The resin particle material determines the coercivity of the stripe; the higher the coercivity, the harder it is to encode and erase information from the stripe. Magnetic stripes are often used in applications for access control, time and attendance, lunch programs, library cards and more.
Amount of data that can be encoded to a magnetic stripe (per ISO 7811 format):
210 bits/inch (BPI), 7 bits/character (MPC), maximum of 79 alpha-numeric characters.
75 bits/inch (BPI), 5 bits/character (MPC), maximum of 40 numeric characters.
210 bits/inch (BPI), 5 bits/character (MPC), maximum of 107 numeric characters.
A type of smart card, also known as an asynchronous card. Features 1 kilobyte to 64 kilobytes of memory and is suitable for portable or confidential files, identification, tokens, electronic purses or any combination of uses.
A covert, visual security element that is usually placed within a line or artwork element on a card. Only a few thousandths of an inch high, microtext is visible only under magnification, and therefore cannot be duplicated by dye sublimation, inkjet or laser printers.
Output Card Hopper
Attaches to an ID card printer and ”catches” cards after they’ve been printed. Some printers offer the option of re-arranging the location of the output hopper to have the cards exit the printer on the same side that they enter (especially beneficial for offices having tight workspaces).
(Output hopper) Stores printed cards in a first-in/first-out order. This feature makes it easy to keep printed cards in a specific order for faster issuance or to print serialized cards.
(Overlay, topcoat) The last layer (‘O’ in YMCKO) that is placed onto an ID card after the color or monochrome panels have been applied. Overcoat provides some protection from fading and scratching on the card.
Used for more efficient visual identification and are available in many non-standard sizes. The most popular sizes are CR90 (3.63″ x 2.37″/92 mm x 6 0mm) and CR100 (3.88″ x 2.63″/98.5 mm x 67 mm).
(Lamination) The process of combining lamination material and core material using time, heat and pressure. Available in clear or holographic designs and in varying thicknesses, laminate patches used in card printers come on rolls, with and without carriers/liners and are typically used for high usage cards (e.g., cards that must be swiped through a reader) or to add advanced visual card security.
(Overcoat, topcoat) The clear overlay panel (O) is provided on dye sublimation print ribbons. This panel is automatically applied to printed cards and helps prevent images from some premature wear or UV fading. All dye sublimation printed images must have either this overlay panel or an overlaminate applied to protect them.
(Edge-to-edge/edgeless) Refers to the maximum printable area on a card. Printers with over-the-edge printing capability can print past the edge of a card resulting in printed cards with absolutely no border.
(Plain polyethylene terephthalate or polyester) Is most commonly associated with a material from which cloth and high performance clothing are produced (e.g., DuPont Dacron polyester fiber). Composite cards produced for use in the identification industry are made from PET-G, also known as glycolized polyester. The ‘G’ represents glycol modifiers, which are incorporated to minimize brittleness and premature aging that occur if unmodified amorphous polyethylene terephthalate (APET) is used in the production of cards.
(Personal Identity Verification Cards)A smart card issued to an individual that is used for identification verification. PIV cards contain stored identity credentials (e.g., photo, electronic fingerprint representation) so that the identity of the cardholder can be verified against stored credentials by another person or computer. PIV cards must be personalized with identity information for the individual to whom the card is issued, in order to perform identity verification by both humans and automated systems. Humans can use the physical card for visual comparisons, whereas automated systems can use the electronically stored data on the card to conduct automated identity verification.
The software that enables your operating system to properly build and format commands and data bound for your printer. In effect, a printer driver tells your operating system all that it needs to know to successfully operate your printer.
(Prox card/contactless smart card) Used for access control applications. Embedded in the card is a metallic antenna coil, which allows it to communicate with an external antenna. Because the cards require only close proximity to an RF antenna in order to be read, they are referred to as contactless cards.
Proximity Card Encoder
Uses a HID ProxPoint Plus reader mounted on the e-card docking station inside the printer/encoder. The ProxPoint is a “read only” device producing a Wiegand signal that is converted to RS-232 using a Cypress Computer System CVT-2232. Application programs can read information from HID prox cards via an RS-232 signal through a dedicated DB-9 port on the outside of the printer labeled “Prox.”
(Composite, also known as comp cards) A polyester core sandwiched between PVC material. Stronger and more durable than regular PVC cards, comp cards are recommended for utilization in high-usage environments or if lamination is part of one’s particular ID card printing process. (Composition is 40% polyester/PET and 60% PVC material.)
A dedicated receptacle that collects the printed cards which fail to encode properly during the card printing process. A reject hopper may be integrated into the printer or may be attached to the printer.
(Radio Frequency ID) A wireless technology for communication between electronic devices. In the ID card industry, it is RFID technology that enables a contactless smart card to communicate with a reader.
(Restrictions of the Use of Hazardous Substances) An advanced Japanese and European directive that regulates maximum concentrations of six hazardous materials that are used in electrical and electronics equipment. These materials are lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE).
Resin Thermal Transfer
The process used to print sharp black text and crisp barcodes that can be read by both infra-red and visible-light barcode scanners. It is also the process used to print ultra-fast, economical one color cards. Like dye sublimation, this process uses a thermal printhead to transfer color from the ribbon roll to the card. The difference, however, is that solid dots of color are transferred in the form of a resin-based ink which fuses to the surface of the card when heated. This produces very durable, single-color images.
(reverse image transfer) ID card printing technique where the card image is first printed onto a transparent retransfer film that is then stuck onto the card surface. Retransfer printing provides high quality images and provides the ability to print on uneven card surfaces and/or differing materials.
(reverse transfer film) A retransfer ID card printer first prints to the underside of a clear ribbon (the initial dye transfer). This is then transfer to the card in such a manner that the information on the card appears under a protective “release layer” of the clear ribbon (the retransfer step). In other words, card images are transferred (or sublimated) from the YMCK dye film onto a clear film and then laminated entirely onto the card.
Contains a thermo-sensitive material that allows data to become visible or invisible depending upon the temperature applied. Rewritable cards can be erased and rewritten many times over. For example, the Evolis Tattoo 2 Rewrite card printer can erase and rewrite cards up to 500 times. Rewritable cards are perfect for practical applications in visitor management, customer loyalty and schools.
Scratch Off Ribbon
A common application for scratch off ribbon is for pre-paid phone cards to ‘hide’ the PIN number that will activate the phone card until it is in the hands of the card owner. Prior to applying the scratch off ribbon, a monochrome or full color ribbon (scratch off ribbon can be applied on top of the overlay or ‘O’ panel of a YMCKO ribbon) must be used to print the data and graphics desired on the card. Then the monochrome or color ribbon must be replaced with the scratch off ribbon (the card layout must subsequently also be changed so that the scratch off material prints in the area desired) and the card resent through the printer.
A laminate that can be applied manually
without the use of a thermal laminator. Laminates in general can add an extra level of security and durability to a card. Refer to part number PSHoloLam to learn more about a specific type of self-adhesive laminate.
Signature Capture Pad
A form of biometrics technology that contains a touchpad sensor that reads the pressure applied to a stylus tip used for signing, and then transmits the signature data to a computer.
Smart cards have an embedded computer circuit that contains either a memory chip or a microprocessor chip. There are several types of smart cards: memory, contact, contactless, hybrid (twin), combi (dual interface), proximity and vicinity. Refer to our Technology Cards section to learn more.
Thermal Transfer Overlaminate
A card overlaminate available in a 0.25 mil thickness that increases card security and durability; often used for moderate durability applications or when additional security (such as holographic images) are needed.
(Overcoat, overlay) The topcoat (T) panel of a ribbon is applied to printed cards and helps prevent images from some premature wear or UV fading. Topcoats are available as a panel on color and monochrome ribbons, or provided on a separate roll in clear or holographic styles.
(Transportation Worker Identification Credential) TWIC is a common identification credential for all personnel requiring unescorted access to secure areas of facilities and vessels regulated by the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), and all mariners holding Coast Guard-issued credentials. TWIC cards are a tamper-resistant credential containing the cardholder’s biometric (fingerprint template) to allow for a positive link between the card and the individual.
Universal Serial Bus Interface
(USB) An input/output (I/O) bus capable of data transfer at 12 megabits (1.5 megabytes) used for connecting peripherals to a microprocessor. Typically, each device connected to a computer uses its own port. USB can connect up to 127 peripherals through a single port by daisy-chaining the peripherals together. USB devices may be hot plugged, which means that power does not have to be turned off to connect or disconnect a peripheral. It is expected that USB will become a primary means of connection in IBM-compatible PCs. Most major hardware, software and telecommunications providers support USB. Some printers do not yet support USB: however, most of these parallel interface printers will accommodate a parallel to USB conversion cable.
A tamper-evident, instantly verifiable 2-D silver metallic foil embedded with a logo or other custom graphics onto a card using a hot stamp process. Fargo custom VeriMark cards provide an added level of protection against ID counterfeiting. For use with Fargo Direct-to-Card (DTC) series card printers/encoders. See sample custom VeriMark cardstock.
Is more versatile than a standard ribbon on different card materials, including ABS and special varnished cards, as well as non-PVC card materials such as cardboards (e.g., paper cards). In contrast, the dyes in a normal ribbon are not able to adhere to the surfaces of paper cards. Refer to Evolis’ BlackWAX monochrome ribbons (part numbers R2229 and R2029) for more information.