Digital ID Card Printer Buyer’s Guide

Photo ID Card PrintersAre you in the market for a digital ID card or badge printer, but don’t know exactly what you need to get up and going? It isn’t complicated, but you do need to be aware of a few things before you make your purchase. Here are a few tips that should help you get on your feet and become more familiar with digital ID card printers in general. Enjoy!

Digital ID Printers – First off, let’s cover the printers. The digital ID card printer is the core of the ID card creation process. Printers come in full-color and monochrome designs. Most full color printers can print monochrome, but monochrome printers cannot print full color.

Printers also come in single-sided and double sided designs. This depends on the type of card you will be printing . Single sided printers can be used for double-sided printing, but require the card to be flipped. This increases time, is more inconvenient and increases the risk of the card being scratched.

ID card printers can be customized to be fitted with magnetic stripe encoders, smart card encoders and proximity card encoding. Printers should state on the product page whether they are available with these features.  You can find our ID card printers here.

PVC Cards – Most ID card printers use a CR-80 size plastic PVC card in a 30 mil thickness. While cards sizes may vary, this is by far the most common size used today. The 30 mil thickness is the same thickness as a credit card. Thinner cards are available, and usually include an adhesive back for use with proximity cards. While most CR-80 cards are white, multi-colored cards are available. You can find our blank CR-80 PVC cards here.

Digital ID Card Creation SoftwareCard Creation Software – ID card printers will require some sort of software to assist with the card creation process. While I have spoken with people that have used MS Word and Photoshop to create cards, card creation software is much faster. Some printers come with software, but most require a separate software suite to be used.

I have found, however, that more and more printer manufacturers are including software with their printers. You can find our ID card software here.

ID Card Printer RibbonsPrinter Ribbons – Most ID card printers use a multi-panel color ribbon that is fused to plastic PVC cards through a process called dye sublimation. The thermal print head will fuse one color to the card, then another and then another. Most full-color cards use a YMCK (yellow, magneto, cyan, black) process, often with a clear laminate overlay to protect the print. These prints hold up well with daily use. You can find our ID card printer ribbons here.

Cleaning Kits – It is recommended to clean your printer after frequent use or when flaws begin to appear. These cleaning kits typically clean the thermal printing head. This includes wipes, cleaning pens and cleaning cards. Cleaning kits can be found on the printer ribbon supply pages for the brand of printer being used.

This is a basic breakdown on how an ID card printer works and what is needed to get one up and running. Please feel free to contact one of our photo ID specialists at 1-800-658-8788 with answers to more questions. You can find our entire selection of photo ID equipment and supplies here. This includes lanyards, badge holders, reels and more.

Keith Barlow

Keith is a third generation office equipment expert. ABC Office was started by his grandfather back in 1980 and he is proud to be caring on the values that made ABC Office what it is today… unsurpassed selection, detailed information, low prices, and courteous support.

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