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ID Badge Printing: Should You Outsource or Print In-House?

ID Badge Printing: Should You Outsource or Print In-House?

When you have an ongoing need to print ID badges for your event facility, you might start to wonder which is better for you; should you print your own ID badges, or would it be better to outsource it and let a professional production company handle the entire operation? There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and what’s best for you will depend upon a variety of factors.

Let’s look at five questions to ask yourself when deciding whether to print your ID badges in-house or outsource the work to a badge printing company.

No. 1: How often do you need badges printed?

Is this an occasional need, or is it something that will continue indefinitely? If you have recurring events that will require new badges each time, investing in an on-site badge printer may be useful. It would allow you to create badges whenever needed, including creating replacement badges when someone loses or damages their badge.  

However, if you only need to print a few hundred (or even fewer) cards a year, and those cards are generally all printed at the same time, investing in a badge printer and all the supplies might not be the best value for you. Buying the supplies that you need and maintaining and storing the equipment when it’s not in use could be more expensive than simply contracting out the printing. 

Having someone else do the production and printing work also ensures that you get a high-quality professional-looking badge.

No. 2: What kind of security features do you need?

Security features have become increasingly sophisticated for ID badges. While photos provide a basic form of security, there are many ways to improve your card’s built-in security. Options include security and hologram labels, bar codes, magnetic stripes, fluorescent overlays, microtext and more. If you require a higher level of badge security, always make sure that the ID badge printer you’re planning to use has the capabilities to handle every aspect of the job.   

No. 3: Do you have the staff to handle printing?

Printing an ID badge can be simple, but it requires several steps and a certain level of ability. Do you have a staff that can handle all aspects of ID badge production and printing? This includes making sure that the card is designed attractively and uses any required artwork, colors and logos properly to comply with branding guidelines.

You’ll want to be sure that your staff can manage all in-house design work for a professional look. Once the design work is done, badges will need to be printed, and that’s where an in-house badge printer can save money when compared with outsourcing the job. However, keep in mind that you’ll have to allocate staff time to complete that task.

In addition to having the proper personnel to design your ID badges and manage the printing process, you also need technical support to troubleshoot and correct any problems you might have with your printer. If you don’t have an IT professional or a tech-savvy worker on staff to troubleshoot issues as they arise, you could find yourself in a bind. The last thing you want right before an event is to have your badge printer stop working and not be able to figure out what’s causing the problem.

Knowing that you’d need to have the staff to manage the design and printing process and address technical issues can help you determine which option is better for you.

No. 4: What other types of items will you need to print?

Badges aren’t the only way that attendees gain entrance to an event. Will you ever need to also create wristbands? Will you require other types of badges that would have different printing needs? Evaluate all your uses and needs before investing in a machine; you don’t want to go to the expense of investing in a printer, supplies and accessories, only to end up having to outsource additional work to a printer.  

No. 5: Would on-site, on-demand printing make the process easier?

In some cases, on-site credentialing makes the most sense. It allows you to create custom, personalized badges and passes for conventions, trade shows, sporting events, meetings and more. Creating badges on-site for these events can make entry run smoothly, since attendees can sign in, get their photo taken and have a custom badge printed in just a few minutes.

This approach gives each badge a professional appearance and it saves the time and cost of printing all your badges in advance with some waste from no-shows. If you have a team that can handle the printing operation during registration, this is an ideal time to use your own in-house printer; if that’s not an option, you can enjoy all the benefits of hiring a professional badge company by using their on-site credentialing services.   

Making the Final Decision

Outsourcing your ID badge printing can give you great peace of mind; knowing that the design and details are in the hands of a professional company gives you one less thing to worry about. However, for some customers, investing in a quality ID badge printer might prove to be a better value and will pay for itself fairly quickly. Let your needs and expected usage based on these five questions guide your decision.

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