Okay, so you’re getting ready to buy an ID card printer, but
you haven’t really thought much about what your ID card needs actually are,
right? In fact, you don’t really even know where to begin. Don’t worry, you’re in
good company. One thing we know for sure is that identifying your ID-card needs
carefully and clearly really helps you make the right ID-card printer decision.
Today’s ID cards can be really basic (a photo and a couple
of lines of information on one side) or quite sophisticated with data-storage
and security features. Different ID-card printer models are designed for
different needs, card volumes, applications and circumstances.
Let’s take a look at 10 basic questions that help identify
your ID card needs (there are others, but these are a great start).
- What will your organization
and the people receiving ID cards use them for? Just for simple visual identification?
Or will they also be used for access privileges or to hold financial
information? Will they be used for multiple purposes? These questions help you
understand what type of information the card needs to reveal visually or hold
- Who is using your ID cards? That is, who are you issuing them to? Who
is using the cards helps define card use. If you’re issuing ID cards to
visitors every day, that could be hundreds of cards, or just a few. It could
also mean very limited information requirements, depending on what the visitors
use the cards for. If you’re issuing cards only to new employees, you could
need just a few cards each week, but each may need detailed information for
multiple functions and security requirements. Perhaps you’re issuing cards to
employees and visitors and members or students every day–in which case your ID
card printer needs many capabilities.
- How much information do your cards need to present visually (i.e., for
humans to read)? Your answer to this question will determine whether you
need to print one-sided or dual-sided ID cards. The more information you need
to present visually on the card, the more likely your layout will require
- How many cards do you need to produce on a daily basis? Your
day-to-day card-printing volume is important to identifying the card printer appropriate
capacity and speed. Some businesses have low ID-card volume requirements and
need only one type of card, while others issue hundreds of cards each day for
multiple applications and users.
- Does your ID printer need to be networked to allow a number of
individuals to print cards? Only you know your operation, so try to identify
each person in the organization you think will need to enter user information
and print ID cards regularly or on occasion. Each of these individuals can
print ID cards right from their desktop if the ID card printer is network ready
for USB or Ethernet.
- What about printer mobility? Do you need to move the ID card
printer from one location to another, or will you use it in one location only? This
really comes down to printer portability. If portability is important you’ll
want to buy an ID-card printer that is compact and lightweight.
- Will your cards be used for automated access control? That is, will
users gain access to restricted areas or mechanical or digital devices with
their card? Will the cards be scanned? If so, will they be scanned by physical
“contact” reader or by a “contactless” reader that scans with radio waves
(Smart cards and RFID cards)?
- What data do you need to “encode” on your cards? Card printers
offer several ways to securely encode information onto the cards, and how your answer
this question determines whether you need to print cards with magnetic stripes
or barcodes, of if you need readable “smart” cards (capable of storing multiple
data strings, including encrypted certificates for the greatest security
possible). Encoded data can be “read” by a mechanical reader in any device or
space the card holder seeks access to–from copy machines, to computers, to
member areas and secure facilities. Data commonly encoded onto cards include
credentials for access to buildings, security clearances, member services or
other perks exclusive to the card holder, and monitoring activity (e.g., for
loyalty programs) and tracking member benefits or time and attendance.
- How important are flawless color images or edge-to-edge coverage? If
your cards are smart cards (which contain surface irregularities that have to
be printed over) or you want/need printing that covers 100% of the card surface,
you’ll likely need your ID card printer to be capable of “retransfer” or
reverse transfer printing. This more costly printing method produces a clearer
image and lasts longer than regular “direct-to-card” printing technology.
- Are your card uses or users of such a nature that cards are likely to
wear out? Here the issue is card
durability, which is enhanced by lamination. Laminated cards have a thin clear polyester
film applied to the card surface that prevents printing on the card surface from
fading or wearing away. Lamination extends card longevity and reduces time and
cost of frequent card replacement.
Businesses, enterprises, and
institutions have many ID Card printer options these days, and selecting the
right printer is important to meeting your business needs and your budget.
Determining how your organization will use the printer and the features it
needs makes the decision process easier and smarter. If you have other
questions, give our ID card printer experts a call–they have all the answers.