Archive for the ‘Photo ID / Identification’ Category

Fargo DTC1000 Photo ID Card Printer Review

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Fargo DTC1000 ID Card PrinterIf your business or organization uses ID badges, PVC time cards or other photo identification, you should really consider printing your own cards in house. It is remarkably fast, about as easy as using a standard desktop printer and is much less expensive than outsourcing. One solid printer you may want to consider using is the Fargo DTC1000 (found here). This high-tech ID card printer is available in several different versions depending on what you want to print.

Fargo has been making high-end photo ID printers for well over a decade. I have personally used them to create ID badges and have always felt that the quality is right where it should be. One thing that I have been very impressed with is that as their technology improves, the prices seem to always get lower. I suppose that’s just the way it is with technology.

The latest addition of the DTC1000 brings quality and affordability to the user. This printer incorporates a lot of features and technology that you used to have to pay extra for. Here are a few of the new features that I particularly like:

  • Cleaning Roller – ID card printers use thermal print heads that begin to gum up and get dirty with repeated use. The results of a dirty print head can range anywhere from blurry images to incorrect colors or a complete failure of the print job. It used to be that you had to purchase a separate cleaning kit for proper maintenance on the printer. The DTC1000 now incorporates a cleaning roller in the printer ribbon itself. This means the DTC1000 now cleans the thermal print head using the same ribbon that is used to print cards. This is very cool.
  • ID Card Software – In order to create an ID card, you need software to lay out the design, template, text, picture and other information prior to printing. The Fargo DTC1000 includes Swift ID software. While it isn’t as robust as a photo ID software suite, it will allow you to quickly create a card and print it out. This is a huge plus in my book. I recommend you try out the included software and see what you think prior to purchasing 3rd party ID card software.

The Fargo DTC1000 is currently available in three different flavors. Each of the three designs also come with additional available modifications. The three versions are:

  1. DTC1000M Monochrome Printer (found here) – If you don’t need a lot of different colors and simply need clear, crisp data on a card, the DTC1000M is a good option. This printer can print in black and white or it can use several different colors of monochrome ribbons. It can still print edge-to-edge, can still be used with CR-80 and CR-79 card ranging in thickness from 9 to 40 mils thick. It can still print photos, text and even bar codes. It is also much faster than a color printer.
  2. DTC1000 Single Sided Printer (found here) – This is an excellent printer for full color single-sided printing. It can even print on the other side of the card with a second pass. You can buy this printer with a built-in print server, magnetic strip encoder or smart card encoder. It prints cards in a resolution of 300 dpi and takes about 24 seconds to print a card, which is a speed of about 150 cards a minute. This printer is extremely compact and sits nicely on just about any desk or table. It connects via a USB cable directly to a printer for easy setup. The print server version can be tied in directly with a network.
  3. DTC1000DS Double Sided Printer (found here) – This printer is very similar to the single sided version, but can print both sides of the card in a single pass. It is also available with a magnetic stripe encoder or an internal print server. It can print full color on both sides of the card, or it can be used with a YMCKOK ribbon that prints full color on one side and a single color on the back, saving cost on ribbons. This printer is highly versatile and extremely affordable for a double-sided printer.

All three of these printers are solid products and are extremely easy to use. I recommend businesses use these for creating ID badges, universities for student ID cards and for much more. They can even be used for creating novelty cards or by businesses for creating membership cards. You can find our entire selection of photo ID card printers here. If you still have questions about ID card printers, please feel free to call us at 1-800-658-8788. We have years of experience with these machines and can help answer your questions.

Have you used the Fargo DTC1000? Post your feedback and experience with it here as a comment! Thanks for reading.

ID Badge Slot Punches – Simple, Easy-to-Use and Affordable

Monday, February 20th, 2012

ID Badge Slot PunchesSlot punches (found here) and id badges have a very close relationship to each other. If you have ever produced ID badges in-house, you are probably intimately familiar with both. Many people, especially those who have their ID badges outsourced, have no idea how easy it actually is to purchase your own badge strap clips or lanyards and slot punch your own ID badges. Here are a few recommendations on, slot punches, badge clips and lanyards.

To begin with, slot punches can be used to punch through both CR-80 30 mil ID badge cards and laminated ID badges. The size of the slot is almost always 1/8″ tall by ½” wide. The edges of the slot are almost always rounded, providing unrestricted movement to the ID badge lanyard or badge strap clip. Slot punches are also commonly used to punch holes in luggage tags for use with luggage straps.

Slot punches come in three varieties:

Model 3943-1010 Handheld Slot PunchHandheld Manual Slot Punches – Handheld manual slot punches work much like a stapler or a handheld hole punch, depending on the design. Ultimately the badge is placed in device and centered. The slot punch is then either squeezed (hole punch style) or pressed (stapler style). Some slot punches include side guides for centering.

There are three models of handheld slot punches I recommend using:

Lever Activated Heavy Duty Slot Punches – If you are punching a lot of CR-80 cards or other PVC plastic badges, a lever-style slot punch may be needed. These slot punches can handle the thin stuff, such as 10 mil or 30 mil cards, and can also be used to punch heavier cards up to 70 mils thick. A long leveraged handle makes the punching effortless, which makes them great for use throughout the day.

I recommend using the Model 1500 LA slot punch (found here) for heavy-duty slot punching.

Electric Heavy-Duty Slot PunchesElectric Slot Punches – If you are punching hundreds to thousands of ID badges or CR-80 cards, you may want to consider using an electric slot punch. These punches are typically metal in design, sit on a desktop or table and typically feature a foot pedal for hands free use. These machines help speed up the process.

I recommend using these two electric slot punches for high-volume ID badge production:

Badge Strap ClipsOnce you have the slots punched in your cards, you are going to need a badge strap clip. These clips, made from vinyl, Mylar or other plastics, slip through the punched slot and snap in place. They typically include a clip that can be attached to a lapel or a shirt. The style of badge strap clips (found here) you use will depend entirely on your personal preference.

Neck LanyardsA lot of people prefer using a neck lanyard (found here) over a badge strap clip. Lanyards fit around the neck, much like a necklace, and keep badges in view at all times. Lanyards make ID badges more difficult to loose and most people find them to be extremely convenient. Lanyards come in all shapes and sizes as well. I have found vinyl, nylon fabric and beaded neck chain lanyards to be most popular. Many lanyards are available in a variety of colors.

We have been selling slot punches, badge strap clips and lanyards at ABC office for over 30 years. We also carry a wide selection of other photo ID equipment and supplies (found here). Please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-658-8788 with any questions.

How Does a Proximity Card Work?

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Proxmity CardsAt ABC Office we sell a wide variety of employee time clocks, designed to keep track of employee time worked for payroll purposes. One popular technology used with many of our time cards is proximity cards. So how exactly does a proximity card work? I’ll explain in this article.

To begin with, you may have noticed that proximity cards are a little thicker than your standard ID badge or credit card. This is because integrated circuitry is embedded and sandwiched between several plastic layers. This circuitry communicates with other devices such as time clocks using a special radio / wireless frequency.

Most proximity cards are powered by using resonant energy transfer in conjunction with a passive chip that is found inside the proximity card itself, although some are powered using small batteries. Non-powered proximity cards typically have a smaller storage capacity than powered cards.

Resonant energy transfer, used in non-powered proximity cards, is very similar to RFID technology and transponder technology found in many modern car keys. This allows the card to operate without have any battery inside. The proximity card reader emits pulses of a wireless radio frequency that the built-in passive chip uses to power the proximity card.

One of the biggest advantages of proximity cards is convenience. They operate by holding the card anywhere from 0-3 inches in front of the card readers. There is no password or special keypad interaction. It is that easy, and for that reason, proximity card are huge for use with building security, time cards and for a variety of business applications.

Proximity cards use special chips that are embedded into the circuit board that contain unique identifying data. This unique identifying data, embedded on the proximity card, can then be tied to a specific person or employee. In the situation of a time clock, the proximity card may contain unique information identifying the employee. When waved in front of a proximity-based time clock, that employee is logged in or out.

Setting up a proximity card is pretty easy. In the instance of an employee time clock, a blank proximity card can be read and then linked with a specific employee. This is typically the case with a building security system as well.

So how do pictures and ID information get placed on a proximity card? This is often done by using a 10-mil CR-79 ID card with an adhesive back. Basically the employee’s picture, company logo, ID number and other information is printed on the CR-79 card using a digital ID card printer. This thin 10-mil card is then stuck onto the surface of the proximity card. You can find our blank CR-79 adhesive cards here.

So there you have it. Proximity cards are extremely handy and utilize some pretty unique technology. You can find our entire selection of time clocks, including proximity time clocks, here.

Make Your Passport Photos Professional!

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Passport Photo ID Tips & AdviceIf you own a store or shop that takes passport pictures for customers, you probably want to make a good impression. Few things will turn off a customer more than a pinned up bedsheet as a backdrop. In order to produce professional passport photos, you need to use a passport backdrop. We offer a few options that should keep your customers happy.

The Federal Government states that passport pictures should be taken in front of a backdrop. They specifically state, “…the background should be plain white or off-white.”

You can read more about passport picture requirements and specifications straight from the U.S. Government here.

At ABC Office we offer a few backdrops that are perfect for taking passport pictures. We offer a few professional cloth options and a few retractable backdrops.

Retractable Passport Photo ID BackdropMulti-Color Cloth Backdrop – This kit comes with a variety of different backdrops. Some can be used for passports where others are ideal for photo identification badges.

WC-33 Ceiling / Wall Mounted Backdrop – This backdrop can be attached to a ceiling or a wall and is retractable. This is convenient and especially nice for saving space.

TB-33 Freestanding Retractable Backdrop – This retractable backdrop is ideal for mobility and saving space. It compacts down into a portable format and can easily be moved from one area to another.

Once you’re passport pictures have been taken, you will need to cut them down to a 2″ x 2″ size. Rather than using scissors that can leave crooked edges, consider using a passport photo ID die cutter.

Once the picture has been cut out, you will probably want to place the pictures is a passport holder / folder. Passport folders look professional, protect the pictures and are far more professional than placing the photos in an envelope or bag.

So there you have it! Some great tips on creating a professional passport photo. If you still have questions, feel free to speak with one of our passport specialists at 1-800-658-8788.

What Is Dye Sublimation? (ID Card Printing)

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Dye Sublimation Printer RibbonIf you have been shopping around for an ID card printer, you have probably run across the term dye sublimation several times. So what makes dye sublimation superior for printing ID cards? I’ll explain some of its benefits.

To begin with, ID card printers that use dye sublimation printing usually utilize some sort of a printer ribbon. The ribbon itself looks like a thin strip of plastic, usually consisting CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) colored panels. Ribbons that feature CMYKO have an overlay panel (O) for added scratch protection.

ID printers have a special thermal print head that heats up these panels and burns them onto a blank PVC card. The panel transitions from a solid to a gaseous state in the process, hence the term sublimation. For those of you who are not chemistry buffs, sublimation occurs when a solid transitions to a gaseous state without ever becoming a liquid.

Dye Sublimation ID Card RibbonDye sublimation ID card printing produces some of the clearest and most professional-looking images available. Because the images are fused onto the PVC card using heat and multiple colored panels, the image has an extremely long lifespan. This is ideal for identification purposes as ID cards can be placed in pockets, wallets, purses and typically experience a lot of wear and tear.

We carry dye sublimation ID card printers from Fargo, Polaroid, Eltron, Magicard and many other manufacturers. You can find most of our dye sublimation printer ribbons here and dye sublimation ID card printers here.

Do you still have questions? Call one of our photo ID experts at 1-800-658-8788.

Best PVC Cards For Digital Photo ID Printers

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

CR80 Blank 30 Mil PVC ID CardsThere are a lot of different sizes and colors of PVC cards available today for creating photo ID cards. A lot of people get confused as to which size, thickness and style they should use. Here is the advice I give our customers.

To begin with, most ID card printers print on plastic PVC cards. The size that is most common is referred to as a CR-80. This size is exactly the same size as a credit card. It fits in most badge holders, can be slot punched for use with lanyards and continues to be the best all-round size for ID cards.

The thickness of PVC ID cards is measured in mils. A mil is a thousandth of an inch. The most common thickness of ID card used today is 30 mils thick. As with the size, the 30 mil thickness is the same as a credit card.

So why do we offer thinner 10 mil cards? For one, they cost less and are nice for temporary ID cards. The most common use of the 10 mil ID card, however, is with proximity cards.

We offer a 10 mil thick CR-80 that has an adhesive back. What many people do is print their ID on the 10-mil adhesive card and then stick it on the surface of a thicker proximity card. This is a great way to put an ID on a proximity or key card.

CR-80 PVC cards are available in multiple colors, but white continues to be the most popular color. White cards, much like white paper, allow the printing of just about anything. Blank PVC cards are also available with magnetic stripes (high & low coercivity) for encoding data and information. Most of our CR-80 cards ship in 500 or 1,000 quantity boxes.

You can find our entire selection of blank CR-80 PVC ID cards here. You can also find our entire selection of digital photo ID printers here.

How To Attach A Lanyard To An ID Badge Or Card

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Handheld Slot Punches with GuideDo you manage an office, run a business or have employees that need to attach a lanyard to an ID card or badge? Try as you might, a hole punch simply is not going to cut it (pardon the pun). What you are going to need is what’s known as a slot punch.

Slot punches are designed to punch a rectangular-shaped hole, typical 1/8″ tall by ½” wide. These slots are designed to accept most normal-sized lanyards, badge straps and badge reels. Slot punches are extremely easy to use.

If you are only cutting a few ID badges a day, you’ll be fine with a handheld slot punch. If you plan on punching hundreds to thousands a day, you may want to consider an electric-powered slot punch.

Slot punches, depending on the model, are also available with and without guides. The advantage of a guide is that it makes alignment easy and center slot punching a piece of cake.

Most slot punches can handle CR-80 PVC cards and some of the more robust models can even slot punch proximity cards.

You can find our entire selection of manual and electric slot punches here. You can find our entire selection of lanyards, badge clips and badge reels here.

Questions? Give us a call at 1-800-658-8788 to speak with one of our ID card specialists.

Reviewed: Fujifilm IP-10 Digital Passport Camera System

Friday, November 5th, 2010

Fujifilm FinePix IP-10 Digital Passport ID SystemSeveral years ago we used to offer a wide variety of instant film passport ID cameras. You pointed the camera, took the picture and pulled the film out the side of the camera. It took anywhere from 1-2 minutes for the film to develop. The end results looked good, but with the coming of digital cameras, our old systems were all discontinued. In walks the Fujifilm IP-10 digital passport camera system (found here).

The new Fujifilm IP-10 digital passport system creates the same results as the old Polaroid instant film cameras, but has since adapted to modern-day technology. While there are now two pieces of equipment used, rather than just one, the new digital system is actually faster.

The Fujifilm IP-10 uses a FinePix I-10 ID printer and a FinePix J38 12.2 megapixel camera. Both pieces of equipment are highly rated pieces of technology, and combined, create brilliant photographs.

Fujifilm IP-10 Digital Passport & ID Card Camera & Printer System

The speed at which the IP-10 system operates really depends on the operator. The step-by-step process is simple:

  1. Shoot the picture
  2. Select the picture
  3. Print the picture

The FinePix IP-10 printer uses Fujifilm’s proprietary Image Intelligence software. This software is designed to offer “intelligent” color adjustments to pictures. The printer is able to automatically detect faces in the image and optimize face coloring for top-quality prints. Here are a few more details on the printer:

  • Printing Method: Dye-sublimation thermal transfer (with overcoating)
  • Resolution: 300 x 300dpi, CMY with 256 gradations / color
  • Print Size: 4 x 6inch – 10 x 15cm (10 x 18cm before cutting)
  • Print Speed: Approx. 70 sec. (start of paper feed to finish)

The Fujifilm FinePix J38 camera produces 12.2 megapixel images and features the latest in technology. This includes facial recognition technology, precision auto focusing and anti-blur capabilities.

Combined, the IP-10 printer and J-38 camera produce pictures that are clearer, more colorful and crisper than any of the old “instant film” cameras that we used to offer. I consider this to be a huge improvement and customers will be happy with the results.

While having a “nice looking” passport picture isn’t a requirement by the U.S. government, nobody wants a bad picture. The IP-10 passport & id card camera system can be used in just about any store or passport picture-taking business. The entire system only weighs 10 pounds shipped, making it extremely portable.

Overall I consider the Fujifilm IP-10 passport ID system a perfect solution for any business looking to upgrade or start taking passport pictures for customers.

You can find the Fujifilm IP-10 digital passport camera system here. You can find our entire selection of ID card creation equipment here. Feel free to call us at 1-800-658-8788 to ask more questions about our ID and passport systems.

Digital ID Card Printer Buyer’s Guide

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

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.

Polaroid P3000E Digital Photo ID Card Printer Review

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Polaroid P3000E Digital Photo ID Card PrinterDoes your business, school or organization need ID cards for security and organizational purposes? There are a few ways you can go about doing this. One of the most popular, and modern ways, is by using a digital ID card printer. If you decide to go this route, you should take a serious look at the Polaroid P3000E digital ID card printer (found here).

Years ago people used to take pictures using a Polaroid ID camera, with instant film, to create ID cards. This process usually involved die cutting the picture, gluing it to a card and laminating it. Polaroid now makes ID card printers that ultimately do the same thing, but print everything in full color on and PVC card. The end results look professional.

The Polaroid P3000E id card printer is a single-sided full color printer that is one of the most affordable models we offer that is capable of printing full color edge-to-edge at a speed of 160 full-color cards per minute. It can print text, full-color photos, bar codes and much more.

While designed for single-sided printing, you can do double-sided printing by flipping the cards and printing on the other side. The disadvantage to doing this is decreased speed (versus a double-sided ID printer) and the potential of scratching the printed side while printing the other.

This ID card printer is available in both monochrome and full-color designs. You can also get it with or without a magnetic stripe encoder. It is connected to a computer via a USB cable and works with Windows 2000, XP, Vista and Windows 7. The printer itself is as easy to set up as an inkjet printer. Drivers are included.

The quality on the Polaroid ID card printers is considered to be some of the best available and the print holds up well with use and time. The cards produced by the Polaroid P3000E ID card printer can be placed in a wallet, be put in a badge holder or be slot-punched for use with a lanyard.

One thing many people complain about with ID card printers is the printer ribbon. The Polaroid P3000E makes ribbon changing easy. Simply pull out the used cartridge and put the new one in. There is no difficult feeding or loading involved. I would compare it to being as easy as changing out the ink cartridge in your inkjet printer.

The Polaroid P3000E includes its own ID Card Maker photo ID software. For more complex Photo ID software needs, we do offer Card 5 ID card software, Asure ID software and EPISuite ID card software. You can find all our available ID card software here.

Overall the Polaroid P3000E is a great system to have. It can be used in most schools, businesses and organizations. You shouldn’t be intimidated by the idea of making your own ID cards in-house. It is remarkably easy to do and the P3000E simplifies the process even more.

You can find the Polaroid P3000E digital ID card printer here. You can find our entire selection of ID card printers here.

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