Direct-to-card ID card printers use a process called dye sublimation. This process uses a dye-based ribbon that includes 3 color panels: Yellow (Y), Magenta (M), and Cyan (C). When a card in inserted into the printer, the printhead heats each color panel of the ribbon. Because of the heat, the dye turns into vapor and diffuses onto the surface of the card to create vivid colors. Direct-to-card ID card printers can produce up to 16.7 million colors with 300 dpi resolution.
Most dye-sublimation ribbons also include a black (K) panel that is a black resin panel used to print barcodes and text in real black. Some ribbons also come with an overlay (O) panel to apply a clear protective layer on your cards.
Retransfer ID card printers use a different printing process to print ID cards. The card images are printed onto a clear film called retransfer film that is then fused onto the surface of the card. This process allows you to print "over the edge" of your cards, which means that you won't have a white border around your printed cards. The result is stunning: superb, vivid colors for high-quality badges.
If you need to encode data on your cards, you have several options:
If you need highly-secure badges, you might consider laminating ID card printers. These printers include a lamination module to add a clear or custom patch or film to your printed cards. Laminating your cards significantly reduces the risk of counterfeiting and tampering while extending the lifespan of your cards.