Comparing Zebra ID Card Printers — Which is Best Depends on Your Needs

  

Get what’s best out of your ID card system and printer

Zebra card printers are widely heralded for reliability and excellent print quality, and also offer a big selection of models and options—to accommodate users’ different card-production needs and budgets.

Zebra set out to create well designed ID card printers that meet you where you work, whether you’re printing cards in high volume or just on a regular basis, and whether you need high security smart cards or just the basics, and deliver the print quality, flexibility, and security you want within your budget.

Below are Zebra’s card printers’ primary features along with some useful comparative summaries for the high- and mid-range models.

First, let’s look at each printer’s print capacity and price:

ZXP 1 ZXP 3 ZXP 7 ZXP 8
Single-Sided Color
Cards/Hour
120 180 300 190
Double-Sided Color
Cards/Hour
0 140 225 180
Double-Sided Color
Cards/Hour Laminated
0 0 200 180
Single-Sided B&W
Cards/Hour
500 700 1,375 1,375
Double-Sided B&W
Cards/Hour
0

Zebra ZXP Card Printer Highlights

Now let’s look at ZXP card-printer series’ other highlights, from the highest security and performance to the entry-level:

ZXP8 High-Security Retransfer Printer

  • High-definition reverse transfer printing for maximum security
  • Photo-quality cards
  • Low cost of ownership
  • Full range of encoding and laminating options
  • Versatile

ZXP7 High-Performance Printer

  • High productivity and performance
  • Single- or double-sided printing
  • Photo-quality cards
  • Operationally and cost efficient
  • Advanced security
  • Read our ZXP7 review

ZXP3 Professional Printer

  • Fast print speeds
  • Single or double sided printing
  • Professional quality cards
  • Versatile
  • Several encoding and security options
  • Read our ZXP3 review

ZXP 1 Standard Printer

  • Affordable and easy to use
  • Single-sided printing only
  • High-quality cards
  • Compact
  • Network manageable
  • Read our ZXP1 review

How Do the Higher-End Models Zebra ZXP7 and ZXP8 Compare?

Both are higher-level, high-capacity solutions that affordably provide outstanding high-quality cards single- or double-sided with clear, sharp, color-rich or monochrome edge-to-edge (full bleed) images with precise color control, crisp black text and readable barcodes, and reliable, consistent performance whenever you’re ready. Both are very well suited for governments, universities, financial, healthcare, and hospitality businesses and high-security environments. Both offer a solid value and handle any organization’s daily card-production requirements with impressive easy-to-use results.

Depending on your card-production volume, card content requirements, and security needs the differences between the ZXP7 and ZXP8 can be significant.

The biggest difference between these two higher-end models is printing technology. The high-security ZXP8 printer is designed to accommodate the thicker (30 to 40 mil) cards used in higher-security situations and prints using retransfer printing technology—aka “reverse transfer”—the most advanced card-printing technology available. Applying a retransfer film and fusing it to the card with heat and pressure ZPX8 prints perfectly on any surface and avoids image-quality issues common with direct-to-card printers that can have trouble printing over the uneven surfaces created by smart chips or embedded antennas and circuits. HDP retransfer film also delivers added durability and security through an additional layer of tamper-resistant protection. ZXP8 is Zebra’s highest performance reverse transfer printer—and can simultaneously print, encode and laminate.

The ZXP7 on the other hand uses dye-sublimation thermal transfer direct-to-card printing in full color or monochrome technology, which permits its marginally higher print speeds. The ZXP7 prints twice the B&W images, and 20 percent more color images, per ribbon roll or cartridge compared to the ZXP8.

Model ZXP Series 8™ ZXP Series 7™
Quick Facts High-security Retransfer printers High-performance Direct-to-card printers
Print Capabilities Single- or dual-sided
Color- and mono-to-retransfer film
Single- or dual-sided
Color and monochrome
Print Speed
(CPH = Card Per Hour)
Single-sided: Color: 190 CPH
Double-sided: Color: 180 CPH
Single-sided: Color: 300 CPH
Mono: 1,375 CPH
Double-sided: Color: 225 CPH
Max. Images per Ribbon Roll or Cartridge Color (YMCKO): 625
Mono (Black): 2,500
Color (YMCKO): 750
Mono (Black): 5,000
Security High security High security
Communication Interface Standard: USB, Ethernet
Optional: 802.11 wireless
Standard: USB, Ethernet
Optional: 802.11 wireless
Edge-to-edge Printing Over-the-edge
Encoder Specifications
UHF Gen 2 RFID
Three-track Magnetic
Smart-card Contact
MIFARE® Contactless
Smart-card Contact Station
Card Specifications
Card Thicknesses 30-40 mil, 30 mil laminated 10-50 mil, 30 mil laminated
Input Feeder Capacity* 150 cards 200 cards
Output Hopper Capacity* 100 cards 100 cards
Laminator Specifications
Built-in Single-system Laminator

How Does Zebra ZXP1 Compare to ZXP3?

Both are entry-level solutions that affordably provide outstanding edge-to-edge print quality, vivid colors, and reliable, consistent performance. Both are very well suited for governments, universities, and hospitality businesses offer a solid value and handle any organization’s basic card-production requirements with impressive easy-to-use results.

Depending on your card-production volume, card content requirements, and security needs the differences between the ZXP1 and ZXP3 can be significant.

The biggest differences are print capability and speed. ZXP1 handles single-sided printing only, while the ZXP3 prints on one side or both sides. Both are built for regular use. The ZXP1 can produce up to 500 monochrome or 120 color single-sided cards per hour. The ZXP3 can produce up to 700 monochrome or 180 color single-sided cards per hour, and up to 140 color dual-sided cards per hour.

Both the ZXP1 and the ZXP3 use dye-sublimation thermal transfer direct-to-card printing in full color or monochrome technology, but the ZXP3 can print more than twice the images per ribbon roll or cartridge the ZXP1 can, which can be particularly important in higher-volume printing operations.

Another major difference is that the ZXP1 is not smart-card capable—thought it offers optional magnetic-stripe encoding—while the ZXP3 does print and encode complicated access-control cards, smart cards, and high-security financial cards, including ATM cards.

Model ZXP Series 3™ ZXP Series 1™
Quick Facts Professional Direct-to-card printers Standard Direct-to-card printers
Print Capabilities Single- or dual-sided
Color and monochrome
Single-sided
Color and monochrome
Print Speed
(CPH = Card Per Hour)
Single-sided: Color: 180 CPH
Mono: 660 CPH
Double-sided: Color: 125 CPH
Single-sided: Color: 120 CPH
Mono: 500 CPH
Max. Images per Ribbon Roll or Cartridge Color (YMCKO): 280
Mono (Black): 2,000
Color (YMCKO): 100
Mono (Black): 1,000
Security Locking features None
Communication Interface Standard: USB
Optional: Ethernet
Standard: USB
Optional: Ethernet
Edge-to-edge Printing
Encoder Specifications
UHF Gen 2 RFID
Three-track Magnetic
Smart-card Contact
MIFARE® Contactless
Smart-card Contact Station
Card Specifications
Card Thicknesses 10-40 mil 10-40 mil
Input Feeder Capacity* 100 cards 100 cards
Output Hopper Capacity* Integrated Hopper: 45 Cards
External Hopper: 50 Cards
Integrated Hopper: 50 Cards
Laminator Specifications
Built-in Single-system Laminator

* Card thickness 30 mil/0.762 mm

Questions?

If you have questions about the differences from one printer model to another, or selecting the best ID card printer or supplies for your needs, please allow our team of ID experts to make it easy for you. Call us today at 1800-897-7024, or [email protected].

The IDSecurityOnline Advantage

IDSecurityOnline is a Zebra Premier Partner and offers all Zebra card printers and genuine Zebra ribbons, cards, supplies, and kits. Through this relationship we’re able to offer full technical support and great prices to you.

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