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Creating ID Cards with Plastic Card Printers: A Guide


Many organizations, businesses, and schools are implementing ID card systems to provide secure access to locations, and for digital authentication and tracking. In order to keep up with this trend, it's critical to have the right equipment in place to quickly and easily create physical identity cards. Plastic card printers have become the preferred option for organizations looking to create their own ID cards, and they are more accessible than ever. In this guide, we'll discuss the different types of plastic card printers and related accessories available, and discuss some best practices for using this technology to create identification cards.

Plastic Card Printers

There are several varieties of plastic card printers available to meet the needs of different organizations. Depending on the size and scope of your ID card program, you may want to consider an entry-level printer with basic features, a mid-level printer that can accommodate multiple card sizes and have additional print options, or an advanced printer with features for advanced data encoding and lamination.

Entry-Level Printers

Entry-level plastic card printers are the most basic and the most common type of printer. They are generally designed for producing cards in batches of up to 200 cards, with print speeds of up to 50 cards per hour. These printers have a single-pass printing mechanism, meaning the cards move along the same path for both printing and card-cleaning, allowing for easy one-cartridge replacements. Typical features include simple, easy-to-use software, and compatibility with digital photos.

Mid-Level Printers

Mid-level plastic card printers offer more advanced features than entry-level printers, such as printing onto two or more sizes of cards, additional print options, and more durable construction. These printers typically have faster printing speeds of up to 120 cards per hour, and can produce up to 500 cards in batches. They also offer multiple-pass printing mechanisms, meaning the cards move by separate paths for printing and cleaning, allowing for advanced two-cartridge replacements.

Advanced Printers

Advanced plastic card printers provide the most versatility and features for creating complex ID cards. These printers are designed to print onto a variety of sizes and materials, from PVC cards to smart cards, and can create high-level security cards with features such as data encoding and lamination. Advanced printers also tend to have higher print speeds, up to 500 cards per hour, and can produce up to 1,000 cards in batches. Advanced models may also offer wireless connectivity with compatible mobile devices, allowing for remote printing and card management.

Card Printer Accessories

Choosing the right printer for your needs is only part of the equation when creating ID cards. To efficiently and securely create identity documents, organizations need the proper accessories to go along with their printers. Below are some of the most common accessories used with plastic card printers.

Encoding Modules

Encoding modules are used to add data and security features to ID cards, such as magnetic stripes, contact chips, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, and others. Encoding modules vary in type, depending on the printer and data type, and can be used to create versatile cards used for identity verification, time attendance tracking, card-based payments, or other applications.

Cleansing Kits

Cleansing kits are used to clean plastic card printers in order to keep the printer working properly and to ensure the highest quality prints. Cleaning kits can include cleaning swabs, cleaning fluids, and other tools and supplies needed for cleaning and maintenance.

Re-Writable Cards

Re-writable cards are plastic cards that can be erased and reused multiple times. These cards eliminate the need for disposing of expired cards, as their information can simply be overwritten using a suitable plastic card printer and a supplemental re-write module. Re-writable cards are most often used for loyalty programs, ID cards, and membership cards.

Final Notes

In order to create high-quality identification cards, organizations need the right combination of equipment and supplies. Plastic card printers are an essential part of any ID card program, and with the wide array of options available, organizations of any size and budget can find the right printer for their needs. Paired with the proper card printer accessories and re-writable cards, organizations can quickly and easily create attractive and secure identification cards using plastic card printers.