What features do you need in your next ID card printer?

What features do you need in your next ID card printer?

Ensuring the security of your company is about far more than remembering to lock the door when you go home and posting a security guard to patrol the building at night. Securing your business should certainly involve those things but security must cover every aspect of your business from physical security measures to deny intruders access to enhancing your networking protocols and firewalls. One of the most effective ways of ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to your building and that visitors are clearly identified is the use of ID card badges.

How ID cards can secure your business

Perhaps the most obvious advantage of using company ID cards is that you can tell at a glance who an individual is and whether they should be where they are. However, the advantages of ID cards go far beyond that. ID cards can be used to grant access to different areas of the building, ensuring that only duly authorized employees can enter secure areas or access sensitive data.

Producing your ID cards

It is possible to purchase ID cards for your staff from a range of distributors but that approach can present many problems. In particular, it causes delays in issuing the cards and it limits the amount of customization that is possible. By producing your ID cards in-house you can create unique cards that are just for your company. You can adjust the cards any time you need to accommodate new data and change authorizations for members of staff as many times as you wish. Best of all you can do all of this in only a few minutes using your own printer.

Which features do you need?

Each business is unique and ID card needs can vary significantly. Some organizations will need to produce a high volume of ID card badges and so the speed of production will be a determining factor. For other organisations the amount of cards required will be much lower and so obtaining a printer at a competitive price becomes more important. Another company may want to include a lot of data on each card and therefore value the opportunity to purchase a printer that can print on both sides of the card simultaneously. Three of the most recent additions to the ID card printer market are the Magicard 300 ID card printer which comes in single and dual-sided versions. The Zebra ZC100 ID single-sided card printer and the Fargo HDP6600 printer. Let’s compare the features of each and see which organizations would benefit from using each of them. Each of these printers is fast and efficient but there are some important differences between them. The first two are intended small and medium enterprises while the Fargo HDP6600 would be more at home in larger enterprises or government departments.

Print quality

For any printer, the ability to create a high-quality printed card is the most basic consideration. All of these printers are capable of producing crisp, clear text and images on the card and using a wide color spectrum. The Magicard 300 is capable of printing at 300 x 300 dpi and the Zebra ZC100 prints at a print resolution of 300 dpi. However, the clear winner for print quality has to be the Fargo HDP6600 which can print both text and images at 600 dpi creating the highest image and text quality available. This high resolution means that even the smallest text or complex characters can be clearly reproduced and defined more crisply than ever.

Print speed

If print speed is important to you then the fastest of the three printers is the Fargo HDP6600 which can print up to 230 full-color single-sided cards in one hour. TheMagicard 300 can produce 160 full-color cards each hour while the ZC100single-sided card printer is capable of producing 150 color cards in an hour. If color printing is not a concern for you then the ability of the ZC100 to create to 700 monochrome cards in an hour and the Magicard 300 to print 720 cards per hour could be a deciding factor. If you use the Fargo HDP6600 to print double-sided cards then you will be able to print around 126 cards in an hour.

Encoding abilities

One of the most useful features of an ID card is the ability for each card to carry unique information, this information might relate to levels of security clearance, personal data, or financial records. There are several ways that this data can be encoded on to the card. The most common way is through a magnetic strip such as that commonly seen on credit and bank cards, more recently smartcard encoding has become a viable option.

The  Magicard and the Fargo HDP6600 offer both smartcard and magnetic stripe encoding. While the Zebra ZC100 offers these along with a third party contactless encoder integration kit.

Driver compatibility

Before settling on a new ID card printer you must be certain the printer can be seamlessly integrated into your network. The Zebra ZC100 and Fargo HDP6600 printers are compatible with the Windows operating system. They can be used on everything from Windows 7 upwards. The Magicard 300 has superior driver compatibility since it can be used not just on Windows but also on Mac OS X 10.9.0 upwards and Linux with CUPS support.


Each of the three printers is supplied with software features that help to make using the printer straightforward. The Zebra ZC100 comes with CardStudio a feature-rich card design software that makes card design simple. The Magicard 300 is supplied with technology to print a HoloKote security watermark across the card surface to ensure the authenticity of each card. There are three standard designs and the ability to create three custom designs of your own. The Fargo printer comes with the Fargo diagnostic utility featuring Color Assist spot-color matching.

Card capacity

Sometimes when you are printing a batch of cards then the ability to leave the machine unattended for a short while is important. No-one wants to give their undivided attention to loading and unloading cards while there are other tasks to complete. In terms of card capacity, the Magicard 300 has a 100 card feeder and a 70-card stacker while the Zebra ZC100  allows for 100 cards in both the input and output hoppers. The Fargo printer has a capacity for 100 cards in the input hopper and 200 cards in the output hopper.

Which printer is right for you?

Ultimately the right printer for your organization will depend on the way you use the printer. If you require dual-sided printing then the Magicard 300 or Fargo HDP6600 would suit you. If you only want a small volume of single-sided cards then the Zebra ZC100 would be perfect, while if you need the highest possible quality of printing for a high volume of card production then the Fargo HDP6600 is an obvious choice. Before making your choice consider carefully the way you plan to use ID cards, how much use your new printer will get and how it will fit into your existing office environment.