Does your business or organization have its own ID card printer? It’s one of those items that you don’t think much about until you need it. Owning an ID card printer is a convenient and cost-effective way to print everything from employee badges to visitor tags on demand.
In this post, we’ll outline everything you need to get started with your ID card printer and explore some of the many ways your business or organization can put it to good use.
What Is an ID Card Printer?
An ID card printer is a device that creates ID badges and cards. Unlike your home or office printer, ID badge printers are designed to transfer text and images onto plastic cards — not paper. To ensure a durable transfer, badge printers don’t use the typical printer ink you’d find in an office supply store. The most common type of ID card printer uses thermal printing to create full-color or monochrome images on PVC, PET, PVC/PET, Polycarb, and ABScards.
There are two primary methods that the majority of card printers use:
Direct-to-card printers (DTC). As indicated in its name, a DTC printer prints directly onto the surface of the plastic card via either dye-sublimation (ideal for photo cards) or resin thermal transfer (best for single-color applications).
Retransfer printers. Instead of the print head making direct contact with the surface of the ID card or badge, in reverse transfer (or retransfer) printing, the color is heat transferred to a clear film, which is then adhered to the card itself.
Some ID card printers can also encode magnetic stripes, emboss numbers and add watermarks to create more secure ID cards.
Benefits of Printing On-Site
There are many benefits to printing ID badges on-site. You can use badges for event identification, employee and visitor security and brand affinity. Printing on-site also allows you to print unique single badges rather than ordering in bulk from a supplier. Other benefits of in-house printing include:
Security. Security is the No. 1 benefit of printing ID cards in-house rather than outsourcing the job to a third party. Whether you’re printing for a dozen people or several thousand, ensuring the safety and security of your staff, patrons and customers should be at the top of our priority list.
Having the ability to print cards on-site means there’s no lag in printing secure ID badges when new hires come on board, or when you have a rotating slate of visitors. On-site printing also makes it less likely that cards containing personal identification information will be lost in transit or fall into the wrong hands.
Convenience. Job titles change and employees come and go. Having on-site printing makes it convenient to reissue cards quickly. For K-12 schools or universities, in-house printing allows staff to reprint lost cards or issue cards to new students each year.
Cost. The cost to get your ID badge printing system up and running may be higher than ordering a pre-printed product, but over time you’ll likely see cost savings by doing it yourself — especially for companies and organizations printing large quantities over time.
If you work in a smaller organization, a badge printer may not represent much cost savings. In that case, a reliable badge printing company is a better option.
The Right Printer for You
There are ID card printers to fit most budgets with capabilities ranging from lamination and double-sided printing to the ability to encode magnetic strips. The first step is to decide which type of printer best meets the printing needs of your organization.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s the size of my organization?
- What are my specific printing needs?
- What level of security do I need to consider?
Safety Tip: For organizations like government bodies, schools and health care systems that have high-security concerns, consider a printer that includes resin scramble to ensure the safety of printed data left behind on the ribbon.
Don’t forget to source the appropriate supplies for the printer you ultimately select. You’ll need:
If you’re still not sure which ID products are right for your organization, narrow your options with the help of our Curated Cart Survey.
Uses for ID Card Printers
What you print with your ID card printer depends on your organization’s needs. Large corporations or college admissions teams may need the ability to print ID cards on demand. Hospital systems often require visitors to wear secure ID badges when on the premises. Some of the most popular uses we’ve found include visitor cards, security cards and name badges.
In-house printed cards offer an added layer of security for these applications with features like custom overlay watermarks and magnetic stripe encoding. These features also allow for easier tracking of both staff and visitors.
Professional, high-quality name badges ensure that employees are readily identifiable to customers and enhance overall branding.