When selecting an ID card printer, an important issue to consider is whether the user needs or could benefit from printing on both sides of the card. The answer to this question lies in how the cards will be used (their purpose and function) and how much information they may need to display. For many users, one side of a card suffices to display pertinent cardholder and card issuer information. For other users, much more cardholder/issuer information must be visible to serve the card’s purposes.
Duplex ID Card Printers, also commonly referred to as Dual-sided printers, are, as the name suggests, printers that can print images and text on both sides of a card’s surface. They are designed to print on both sides of your cards in one pass. Duplex printers print on both sides in one of two ways: by automatically flipping the card and printing on the other side, and, in high-volume printers designed with two engines, by printing on both sides of the card simultaneously as it is feeds through the machine.
Single-Sided Card Printers print on only one side of the ID card. A single-sided printer is appropriate for creating ID cards presenting limited cardholder information.
Dual-sided ID printers are used in all industries because they can print any card or badge. They’re built to issue dual-sided badges in high quality.
The advantages of dual-sided printing depend on users’ specific goals. Creating two-sided cards is especially useful when a lot of information needs to be conveyed visually. Compressing a lot of words and images onto just one side of a card diminishes readability and compromises efficient review of card content. (Smaller fonts and lack of white space are difficult on the eyes and can lead to misreads). Too much information all on one side of the card also compromises aesthetic appearance of the card and diminishes the opportunity for branding and image prominence.
Using a card’s back side opens options for “creative advertising” or other features that help distinguish the card issuer and the cardholder. For example, presenting a brand identity logo and company descriptors, leaving a statement of business philosophy, a small map, or calendar of events on the back side can help your card grab attention and make your product or service easy to remember. The back side is also a great place to put graphics, logos, or other visuals to foster easy/immediate recognition of what the card is and its authority. Sometimes, card issues also need the additional space for featuring additional ID elements they want to stand out for quick and easy recognition.
Using both sides of an ID card enhances and expands the opportunity for creativity, clarity, and design impact—making your dual-sided ID card printer a powerful marketing tool. Printing high-quality badges on both sides can convey a great first impression to potential customers and enhance your brand image.
Dual-sided ID card printers save time and resources by printing both sides of the ID card in just a single run. Printing on both sides of a card also offers economic and environmental advantages: it can reduce resource usage and the need to issue multiple cards to cardholders for different functions. This is particularly important for large companies and institutions with numerous cardholders who use cards for different purposes.
For many card/badge issuers a single-sided card printer does the trick. Even though they print on one side only, single-sided ID card printers are feature-packed to issue badges for multiple purposes and functions in high quality, and in color or monochrome.
Single-sided ID card printers aren’t designed to print dual-sided ID cards. While in theory cards can be manually flipped to print on the other side, manufacturers don’t recommend this and advise against it because it can damage the printer’s printhead. When a printed ID is handled it encounters dust, debris, and oil from being touched. When placed back into a single-sided printer it can contaminate the printhead. This damages the printhead pixel, which both affects the quality of your printed cards, and can require expensive printhead repairs or replacement. Using a single-sided card printer in this manner may also void the warranty.
Dual sided printers can apply full color graphic, text, and other design components to both sides of the ID card.
Direct-to-card printing vs. retransfer — Most dual-sided ID card printers are direct-to-card printers, but for over-the-edge printing (no white border around your printed cards), retransfer printers are also available. Retransfer dual-sided ID card printers provide unmatched print quality, even on uneven surfaces (proximity cards, smart cards, or pre-punched cards).
Basic vs. encoding options — Cards printed using a dual-sided card printer can store data using barcodes (applied using software) and encoder modules. If you need to print and encode data on magnetic or smart cards, opt for a card printer with the right encoder. Most dual-sided ID card printers offer optional encoding capabilities, including magnetic stripe (commonly used for access control and time and attendance), and more secure encoders for contact and contactless smart cards, which securely encode data into an embedded chip in the card.
Lamination module — Some dual-sided ID card printers come with a lamination module to apply a protective layer on one side or both sides of your cards, thus producing highly secure badges.
Basic vs. encoding options — Cards printed using a single-sided card printer can store data. The easiest and least expensive way to do this is using barcodes added easily through your ID card software—which don’t require an encoder. Most single-sided ID card printers do offer optional encoding capabilities. If you need to encode ID cards with a magnetic stripe (commonly used for access control and time and attendance), many single-sided ID card printers with magnetic encoders are available. For more secure ID badges, single-sided ID card printers are also available with encoders for contact and contactless smart cards, which securely encode data into an embedded chip in the card.
Direct-to-card printing vs. retransfer — Most single-sided printers are direct-to-card printers, but for “over the edge” printing (no white border around your printed cards), single-sided retransfer printers are also available.
Upgrade to Dual Sided — Single-sided ID card printers can often be easily be upgraded to dual-sided printing. For those whose card-printing needs may evolve to require dual-sided badges, selecting a card printer with duplex upgradability makes sense. Some upgrade features don’t even require you to install anything—all you need is an activation key.
While available upgrades vary from brand to brand, optional upgrades typically include:
Single-sided printers are used in creating a standard variety of cards and contain a range of features and modules. A few high-caliber examples of single-sided ID card printers are:
Robust, durable and reliable, the Magicard 300 is perfect for schools, colleges and medium-sized businesses that print up to 10,000 cards annually. The Magicard 300 offers magnetic stripe and smart-card encoding, and a wide color spectrum and prints at 300 x 300 dpi—great for photographs ID cards and more accurate depiction of corporate logos and other images. A HoloKote® security watermark can be printed across the card surface. This printer prints each full color, single-sided card, with HoloKote®, in under 23 seconds while a resin-only version takes fewer than 6 seconds. The single-sided Magicard 300 can be readily upgraded to double-sided printing through the electronic upgrade kit.
Using dye-sublimation thermal direct-to-card printing, the ZC300 prints brilliant full-color images at 300 dpi with edge-to-edge printing leaving no unprinted edges on cards. Advanced card production software prints virtually any design, even with 3D effects. The ZC300 can keep up with even the most strenuous demands by printing up to 900 monochrome or 200 single-sided YMCK cards per hour. The ZC300 supports virtually any encoding option out-of-the-box. You can create magnetic stripe and contact or contactless (with Secure Access Modules) to create access or payment cards.
The HDP5000’s high-definition reverse transfer printing produces some of the finest imagery available for ID card printing. This fine-tuned process takes a reverse image and prints it on the underside of HDP Film before fusing the film to the surface. The result is a vibrant image that pops—at increased speeds that can print up to 150 cards per hour (YMC with transfer), and with a tamper-evident layer of HDP film between the card image and the world around it to prevent counterfeiting. The HDP5000 features a modular design allowing easy upgrades and modifications to take on various encoding options, duplex printing, and lamination.
Dual-sided printers are used in creating a standard variety of cards and contain a range of features and modules. Some great examples of double-sided ID card printers are:
The Magicard 600 offers maximized print speeds, world class security, and vibrant images. This printer works with existing infrastructure to deliver secure processing of confidential ID data. Offering a wide spectrum of color, the Magicard 600 produces images with stunning color and rich detail at 190 cards per hour (720/hr monochrome). This means a more accurate representation of images and photos making quick and clear identification possible. Printing at 600 x 300 dpi, the detail it produces is stunning and allows you to print micro-text that you can actually read! A HoloKote® security watermark can be printed across the card surface. With the Magicard 600, this watermark can be customized to an organization’s logo, or some other unique security design.
The Sigma DS2 Direct-to-Card Printer is Entrust's latest dual-sided printer. The latest technology offers the next generation of instant issuance, specifically designed for today’s cloud environments to give you the ability to issue secure credentials/identities quickly and efficiently. It’s industry-leading issuance security architecture helps protect cards and customers’ data during each step of the issuance process.
By far the fastest ID printer of its kind on the market today, the Fargo HDP6600 is a full-service retransfer card printer solution producing up to 230 high definition cards per hour. Reverse transfer technology allows you to print vibrant, high-definition dual-sided cards quickly with unmatched, over-the-edge print quality. The HDP6600 produces crisp images and vibrant colors and texts just as your marketing team imagined. The 600 dpi resin printing features allow you to sprint small and detailed text along with crisply defined barcodes. It offers encoding options that allow the printer to produce secure contact and contactless smart cards. It’s exceptionally reliable, which means less printer downtime.
As you can see from these examples, dual-sided and single-sided ID card printers are each available with numerous features to meet most any user’s needs.
If you need more information on—or assistance with—understanding single- or dual-sided printers for your organization’s ID cards and badges, contact one of our ID Experts at 800-897-7024 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll make it easy for you!