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Five Things to Consider When Choosing an ID Card Printer

If your business is growing, you may want to consider investing in ID cards. They are a functional, no-fuss security regulation method that separates the legitimate from the trespassers. If you’re looking to internalise the process of ID card production, you will need to invest in an ID card printer—which differs from a regular printer in that it prints high-quality plastic rather than paper. When selecting an ID card printer, it’s important to choose one that will cater to your business requirements. Here are five things to consider when choosing your ID card printer.

Why ID Cards?

Don’t underestimate the value of ID cards for your business. ID cards are an invaluable asset to a growing or larger organisation—typically for purposes of security regulation. In an office context, ID cards are distributed to internal staff members, and they often double as RFID passes for restricted-access areas (or staff-activated technologies, such as printers). Businesses can also distribute ID cards to non-staff members, an obvious example being gym membership cards. Gym members may not work at their gym, but their membership cards separate them from the non-members, and the cards often provide them exclusive access to the gym’s ‘paid features’.

Make ID cards customised to your business needs.

A Technological Background

When it comes to ID card printers, there are two types of technologies: direct-to-card and reverse transfer (aka retransfer). The former is the most time-efficient, creating cards using coloured overlays and monochrome ribbons. Based on a dye-sublimation process, its print head heats up the ribbon panels, converting ink into vapour that finally diffuses on the card surface. It has a 300-DPI resolution for sharper, more intricate visuals and text. Reverse transfer printers use a similar technology, but the difference lies in the methodology. They print images onto clear films that are fused to the card surfaces, and thus allow for over-the-edge printing and quality printing even over uneven surfaces. This method is the higher-quality option, allowing for 600-DPI resolution.

A glimpse inside the inner workings of an ID card printer.

What Do You Need from your Printer?

Now that you understand ID card functionality and the specifics of ID card printing technology, it’s time to consider what you need from your ID card printer. Does your business need cards with built-in access control features, such as RDIF tags, smart chips, or magnetic strips? Or are you after something simpler without all the bells and whistles? If your ID cards will have uses beyond displaying information, you will need a printer with scope for the extra functionality.

More Advanced Models

If your organisation manages a lot of confidential information, smart chips may be an invaluable feature to add to your cards. Smart chips not only store information, but also contain executable programs as well. Government organisations in particular may benefit from ID card printers that can generate this high-tech security feature.

Some other bells and whistles you may want to consider are holographic lamination and micro-printing. The more high-end printers can be so sophisticated, some can even rewrite existing card data. If you have a more changeable workplace, such printers may be an invaluable investment. It will save the long-term costs of re-printing multiple cards with minor alterations.

Entry-Level Models

If you do only need to display basic information and images, don’t underestimate the value of an entry-level ID card printer. These models are cost-efficient, and their smaller sizes make them more portable and easier to store. Though they won’t operate as fast as the more up-scale models, basic ID card printers can be adequate for smaller organisations without high-scale printing demands.

Entry-level ID card printers. Image: Identity People

Whatever decision you make, ensure it’s the right one for your business needs. How much money do you really need to spend, and would the added security features truly benefit your business? Will the selected card printer match the software you are using? Smaller organisations may not need these extra features, whilst government organisations may find the added security essential for their daily operations. Internalising your ID card printing process can be a smart alternative to outsourcing, as it cuts out the middleman and allows you complete control of the printing process from start to finish.

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