Printers & Systems

How Do I Choose the Right ID Card Printer?

Not all photo ID card printers are alike. Ensuring the right one for the job involves a careful examination of your needs. Check out this helpful video or see the questions below for more information on choosing the best ID card printer for your needs.

Video: How to Choose an ID Card Printer

Questions to Help You Choose an ID Card Printer 

Will you be printing on one side or both sides of your cards? Some card printers only print on one side of a card, usually referred to as 'single-sided' printers. Card printers that are capable of printing on both sides of a card in a single print cycle are also referred to as dual-sided, or duplex. If you would like to print color and/or monochrome on both sides of your cards, you will want to select a dual-sided card printer.  Will you need to encode a magnetic stripe or smart card? Magnetic stripes are the dark stripe on the back of your credit card or driver’s license. These stripes store data and are often used in time & attendance or access control applications. All printer manufacturers offer optional magnetic stripe encoding on at least some of their printers. Consider adding magnetic encoding up-front or select a printer that is upgradeable to magnetic encoding in the future. Thinking ahead can save you money down the road. If you need an ID card to hold more information more securely than a magnetic stripe allows, you might choose a smart card with a memory chip embedded in the surface. The decreasing cost of smart cards gives even the smallest organizations an opportunity to add memory storage capacity. Virtually all printer manufacturers offer smart card contact stations as an option. Since most smart card contact stations cannot be added after the printer has been built, we suggest ordering this option up-front. How many ID cards will you need to print? If you plan to print many cards per session or per year, look for a printer that is built to sustain high volume printing. These printers usually include input and output card hoppers that hold more than 100 cards. How durable do you need your cards to be? Consider an ID card printer that is capable of lamination if your cards need to last more than a year, will be used outside or will be subject to chemicals or abrasive contact. In the process of lamination, a thin clear or holographic protective layer is adhered to the surface of the card, protecting its images and information. If you select a lamination-capable printer, be sure to use composite PET/PVC cards rather than 100% PVC cards. Composite PET/PVC cards are designed to stand up to the heat generated by the lamination process. Do you need visual ID card security? There are many ways to protect your printed cards from fraudulent duplication. One method is to utilize the optional lamination station that is available with many mid- to high-level ID card printers. If you need to secure your cards now or in the future, consider purchasing a lamination-capable printer. Will your printer be on a network so that multiple computers can print to it? Most ID card printers now come standard with a USB interface. Ethernet connectivity is available on several card printers as well. Many printers are also available with a combination of a parallel interface along with USB and others offer USB with an Ethernet interface. Our ID Professionals can help you select a printer that provides the interface you need.
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