Almost all ID card printers manufactured today use a process called die sublimation, which uses a printer ribbon with four panels. These panels are yellow, for more details visit to www.greatindustrialguide.com magenta, cyan and black (YMCK). Many include a fifth panel called an overlay, which places a clear panel over the printed card to extend the life of the image and prevent scratches.
Die sublimation printers use a thermal print head to burn the image onto a plastic PVC ID card. If full color printing is out of your businesses budget, single color monochrome ribbons are available for most printers and are a fraction the cost of a full-color ribbon. Although not as common, there are a few inkjet ID printers available, which use high-resolution inkjet technology rather than die sublimation.
In order to layout, design and create a photo ID, you will need to buy some card creation software. Most ID card software, from brands such as Asure ID, EPISuite and Card 5, have an easy-to-use template that makes it easy to type text, paste pictures and create a base template for all your business’s ID cards.
Software is available in several different packages depending on the volume of ID cards to be printed and the size of the business involved. Additional options found in elite software packages, not found in entry-level packages, include advanced photo importing capabilities, database interfacing and batch printing.
Along with the printer, software and ribbons, you will also need to purchase cards. Most ID cards used are known as 30-mil CR-80, which are the same size and thickness of a standard credit card. The “80” in CR-80 is the size of the card. Thirty-mil is the thickness of the card. Although less common, some businesses use a thinner 10-mil thickness for cards.
Businesses that use proximity cards will often use a 10 mil CR-80 card with an adhesive back. Once printed, a backing is removed from the pressure-sensitive card where it is then stuck to the proximity card. Many CR-80 PVC cards are also available with smart chips (integrated circuit card) and magnetic stripes.
Once printed, many ID cards are slot punched in order to be used on a lanyard, badge reel or badge strap clip. Many businesses will also use a badge holder, horizontal or vertical, to hold the ID card where it can then be attached to a lanyard or strap clip. Using lanyards, badge reels or strap clips makes it easy to present and access identity cards.
Maintenance on ID card printers is easy. A wide assortment of cleaning cards and ribbons are available, which help keep the thermal print head clean and running at top efficiency. Many printers will let you know when they need to be cleaned. If an older printer is being used, symptoms of a needed cleaning may include blurred text or irregular colors. Regular maintenance will keep the ID card out of the shop and will allow you to print ID cards on a regular and uninterrupted basis.