Exploring the Benefits of Plastic Card Printing for Your Business

Plastic Card Printers

Types of Plastic Card Printers and Their Accessories


Plastic card printers open up endless possibilities to individuals, businesses, and educational institutions. A plastic card printer allows the user to design, create, and print ID cards, membership badges, access cards, driver's licenses, and much more in full color. A plastic card printer can be used for customer loyalty programs; issuing security ID cards to employees and granting access to secure zones; controlling access to library books; creating photo IDs, and more.

In this article, we will discuss the different types of plastic card printers and the accessories that come with them. We will also provide a review of the various features, benefits, and pros cons associated with these types of printers, as well as a few case studies to help illustrate their utility.

Types of Plastic Card Printers

When selecting a plastic card printer, two of the most important factors to consider are cost and speed. Here are the three main types of printers, together with their respective features:

  • Thermal Card Printers are the most cost-effective, and also the slowest, as they can print around 160 cards an hour.
  • Retransfer Card Printers are the mid-range option in terms of both cost and speed. They can print from 250 to over 500 cards per hour.
  • Direct-to-Card Card Printers are the most expensive option, but also the fastest. They can print up to 1,000 cards an hour.

Thermal Card Printers

Thermal printers work by transferring heat from the printhead to special heat-sensitive ribbon to create an image on the card. Thermal printers are the most cost-effective option since they do not require consumables and have a lower upfront cost. However, the quality of the image is limited, as the heat can sometimes cause warping and discoloration of the cards.

Retransfer Card Printers

Retransfer card printers print directly onto specialty retransfer film. This film is then thermally transferred onto the card, resulting in a higher quality, professional looking image. Retransfer printers also have a longer life span than thermal printers, as they do not expose the printhead to the intense heat required for thermal printing.

Direct-to-Card Card Printers

Direct-to-card printers print directly onto a card using either dye sublimation or retransfer technology. This allows for more precise printing with fewer rejects. Direct-to-card printers are the most expensive option, but they are also the fastest, and the image quality is the highest.

Card Printer Accessories

A variety of accessories are available for plastic card printers. These include protective shields, filament, mag stripes, and more. Some of the most popular accessories include the following:

  • Magnetic Stripe Encoders, which allow the user to encode card data onto a magnetic strip card.
  • Laminators, which help protect the card from wear and tear.
  • Smart Card Encoders, which allow the user to store data on a smart card.
  • Barcode Scanners, which are used to scan barcodes on cards.

Pros Cons of Plastic Card Printers

Plastic card printers offer many advantages, such as low cost of ownership, quick and easy card production, and the ability to customize cards. However, there are also a few drawbacks to consider. For example, if the card printer breaks, it can be expensive to repair or replace. Additionally, it can be time-consuming to keep the card printer clean and in good working order. Finally, using a plastic card printer requires a certain level of technical expertise, which may be difficult for some users to acquire.

Case Studies

Case Study 1: Hotel Loyalty Program

A national hotel chain needed to create a loyalty program for its customers. By using a plastic card printer, they were able to design and produce custom loyalty cards for their customers in just a few hours. The cards provided customers with exclusive discounts, rewards, and access to special events. The program was a success and helped the hotel chain acquire new customers and increase customer loyalty.

Case Study 2: Corporate Security

A large corporation needed to secure its offices and data centers. They used a plastic card printer to create secure access cards for their employees. The cards use two-factor authentication and are encrypted for maximum security. The system has enabled the corporation to keep its offices and data centers secure, without compromising the security of its employees.


Q1: Can a plastic card printer be used for credit cards?

Yes, some models of plastic card printers can be used to print credit cards. However, it is important to research the individual model to ensure it meets the requirements for printing credit cards.

Q2: Are there any software requirements?

Most plastic card printers do not require any special software to use. However, some models may require specific drivers in order to work correctly.

Q3: How long does a plastic card printer last?

The life span of a plastic card printer depends on the type and model of the printer. Generally, a plastic card printer should last several years if used and maintained correctly.

Mistakes to Avoid When Using Plastic Card Printers

  • Not using the correct type of card for the printer.
  • Using poor quality blank cards.
  • Not cleaning or calibrating the printer regularly.
  • Not replacing consumables, such as printer ribbons, when needed.
  • Using the wrong type of ribbon for the card type.

Best Practices for Using Plastic Card Printers

  • Choose the right printer type for your needs.
  • Use high quality blank cards.
  • Clean and calibrate the printer regularly.
  • Replace consumables, such as printer ribbons, when needed.
  • Make sure to use the correct type of ribbon for the card type.

Summary Review

Plastic card printers are a great tool for individuals, businesses, and educational institutions. They offer a low cost of ownership and the ability to create custom cards quickly and easily. There are three main types of plastic card printers, each with its own features and benefits. In addition, there are a variety of accessories available, as well as a host of pros cons, to consider when selecting a plastic card printer. Several case studies have shown the utility of plastic card printers in the real world. Finally, there are several mistakes to avoid when using a plastic card printer, as well as some best practices that should be followed to ensure optimal performance.