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A guide to purchase an ID Card Printer

Apr 30, 2019 Alankit

Identity cards have become highly important across diverse industry segments, be it for employees working in a firm or students in an educational university, primarily for the purpose of ensuring security and access control in buildings. Nowadays, plastic identity cards are created using advanced technology with the help of an ID card printer. Identity card printers are enabled with special technology for printing high quality plastic cards for various purposes such as employee ID card, membership cards, smart cards for travel, etc.

Alankit Limited is a recognised distributor of PVC card printers and has steered projects for printing of various cards like Voter ID Cards, Health Cards, Driver’s Licenses, Membership Cards, Payment Cards, Employee ID Cards, etc. Alankit offers ID card printer solutions with exceptional capabilities like high-quality imaging, superior speed for higher productivity, automatic two-sided printing and much more.

An ID card printer may be compared to a desktop inkjet printer as they both look alike and have similar features and technology. Yet, the printer for ID cards is different in many ways as it has been specifically designed to print on plastic cards. These printers are essential component in building a secure identification system. Buying the right card printer is of paramount importance for any business or institution as choosing ineffective equipment can hamper the safety of an organisation. Here is a complete guide on purchasing the right ID card printer for your business:

Define your printing needs

First of all, the business must clearly define its card-printing needs. This is because there are different card printers available in the market designed for businesses based on their specific card issuance program requirement. An ID card printer comes with a plethora of printing features for diverse business needs. For instance, the printer designed for access control cards will be different from a printer designed for membership cards.

The technology based on which a printer is built differentiates it from other printers. There are two types of technology options namely direct-to-card and reverse transfer or retransfer. The former is a fast and effective method to create cards using full colour, overlays & monochrome ribbons; having an average resolution of about 300 dpi to achieve detailed images and sharp text. It is based on a dye-sublimation process with a print head which heats each panel of the ribbon to convert ink into vapour that finally diffuses onto the card surface. The latter type of ID card printer uses a similar technology but it prints images onto a clear film that is fused onto the card surface, thus allowing over-the-edge printing and fine quality printing even on uneven surfaces viz. non-PVC cards. This method allows resolutions of up to 600 dpi for high-quality imaging.

Identify the need for speed, capacity & media

Buyers should purchase the printer based on the type of printing required. That is, whether they need a single-sided printing or double-sided printing. As the names suggest, printers designed for single-sided printing will only print on one side of the card at a time whereas models built for double-sided printing, say for photo-identity cards, can print on both sides at once. Furthermore, print speed and media capacity is another point to be taken into consideration. For instance, large groups make require high-speed printing capabilities with large card trays & high capacity ribbons, leading to less downtime. Some printers also have reject trays to automatically discard cards with errors.

With regards to the media aspect, an ID card printer must be selected based on size of cards namely CR-80 (ID-1) and CR-79 standards. Similarly, ribbons also come in different varieties. For example, monochrome ribbons - the simplest of all ribbons - enable printing in one single colour and are available black, standard colours or metallic-like silver. However, colour ribbons are named for the various panels they have. For example, a YMCKO ribbon contains yellow, magenta, cyan and black panels.

Consider the price factor

Cost and affordability is also an important factor when buying an ID card printer. Direct-to-card printers are usually cheaper than reverse transfer printers. Although, the former may require care when handling as exposure to dust and oil from fingerprints can result in print-head damage thus inviting additional expenses. Also, it is essential to note the warranties that a manufacturer offers.

Go for additional security

Using encoded cards is the best way to enhance your security. The simplest are the magnetic stripes, however limited in use and prone to wear over time. High coercivity (HiCo) and low coercivity (LoCo) are two encoding techniques. HiCo cards have longer life and useful for employee ID cards and access cards. LoCo cards are suited for short-term applications like hotel room key, weekend pass, etc. Moreover, smart cards with tamper-resistant security system and cards with laminators also offer additional security.

Go advanced with software & connectivity

Connectivity is a vital consideration since ID card printer is used as part of an integrated system with software and multiple users. A standard connection between printers and computers is the USB 2.0 which is a universal and well-established method. Ethernet facilitates direct networking of printers to a network to cater to multiple users in different locations. Advanced feature like Wi-Fi connectivity is an added advantage.

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