A Successful ID Credential Program

A Successful ID Credential Program
By: Gabriel Schonzeit
Securing schools and campuses across our nation has become top-of-mind over the last few years. From lockdowns to campus shootings, no school can avoid the threat of violence that can take place on school grounds without the proper security in place. Because of this, schools across America are reassessing their security measures and trying to create a safer environment for students, teachers and staff.

Investing in an ID card system is a major step toward a more secure infrastructure for schools. The latest innovations in the card printing industry have resulted in printers that can be operated easily with minimum training. However, running a successful ID program might be more challenging than expected, so here are a few rules to know when buying and using an ID card system.

1. Anticipate needs.

Most purchasers of card printing equipment make decisions based on their current needs. This makes sense at that time, but these decisions can translate into costly investments in the future.

Indeed, some ID card printers are built to be upgraded on-site or at an authorized retailer to adapt to evolving needs. For instance, some single-sided card printers can easily become dual-sided systems without having to purchase additional hardware. That is why a campus that might need dual-sided functionality at some point should consider an upgradable machine at the time of purchase. Other upgrades, such as lamination or encoding modules, should be evaluated by the purchaser.

2. Choose the right ribbons.

Most card printer users purchase a standard YMCKO color ribbon to print their ID cards and badges, but this might not be cost-effective.

Most ID card printer manufacturers offer a wide range of monochrome and color ribbons, including ribbons for dual-sided printers. For instance, a school looking into printing a student ID badge with a photo, text, logo and background on the front, and the school’s contact information in black on the back should consider buying YMCKO-K ribbon. This type of ribbon is designed to print in full color on one side and black on the other.

Another great option to save money on consumables is a half-panel color ribbon where the yellow, magenta and cyan panels are half the size of the regular panels of YMCKO ribbon. Up to half of the card can be printed in full color while black text or images can be printed anywhere on the card. This ribbon is ideal for student IDs that include a color photo and the cardholder’s information. It works great on pre-printed cards when only a picture, name or barcode needs to be added.

3. Care for the cards.

Good care of plastic cards is critical to get the best quality at every print. Users must handle plastic cards carefully. Dust, debris and oils from skin contact can stick to the cards, damaging the printhead and resulting in poorly printed cards. Therefore, it is recommended to hold cards at the edge without touching the surface. Cards need to be stored in a clean, dustfree environment. And, before use, fanning them will reduce static and help prevent them from sticking together.

4. Clean the printer.

Cleaning an ID card printer regularly is crucial to maintain the printer and print high-quality cards. All cardprinter manufacturers offer cleaning kits for easy care of the printer, rollers and printhead. In all cases, users must follow the recommendations of the card printer manufacturer. Failure to comply may void the printer’s warranty, which may result in substantial expenses if a printer component, such as the printhead, has to be replaced. Most manufacturers encourage a printer cleaning at every ribbon change.

5. Select ID card software.

A major mistake when buying an ID card system is to focus on the card printer and overlook other key components, specifically ID card software. Often referred to as “the brain of an ID card program,” ID card software goes beyond the design of ID cards. It helps manage and store cardholder records, communicate with databases and store data in cards.

Purchasers must define their needs carefully to avoid bad surprises; it is highly recommended to check the compatibility of the software with the user’s operating system. Most software providers offer a free trial of their solution to do so, and to test the interface.

6. Maximize the use of ID cards.

Students juggle with multiple cards–photo IDs, residence hall key cards, library cards, cafeteria passes and bus passes to name a few. Managing every one of these single-function cards is not cheap, but with contactless smart cards, all of those functions can be put onto one highlysecure campus card to streamline operations.

Smart cards provide a unified technology platform for access control, campus services and financial transactions, along with future applications that haven’t been thought of yet. These cards are secure as they employ strong data encryption and the computing power of the internal smart chip to protect the information on the card.

Maintaining an effective ID card program will help schools keep their students, staff and visitors safe and secure at all times. It is critical to plan ahead and prepare in advance to ensure that investments are protected as new technology continues to emerge in order to keep everyone as safe as possible. By following the helpful rules above, you will be better equipped to keep your ID badging system running smoothly in the years to come.


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