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Zebra vs. Fargo ID Badge Printers

Zebra vs. Fargo ID Badge Printers

If you need to print ID badges for your school, corporation, hospital or other business, you need a dedicated printer that’s engineered to deliver high-quality products.

We’ve drawn up a comparison of two of the most popular manufacturers, Zebra and Fargo brand printers, to help you make an informed decision.

The good news is that both of the printer brands we’re discussing today are industry leaders and offer retransfer printing, which is ideal for contact and contactless smart chip cards. Let’s take a look at why retransfer printers are a great option to begin with, and then compare each of the major producers.

The Benefits of Retransfer Printing

Retransfer printing—also known as reverse transfer printing—prints onto transfer film, which is then thermally bonded to card material. This means the card can include elevated fraud protection measures such as smart chips or magnetic strips. Retransfer printing also allows for over-the-edge printing, for a more attractive card, versus traditional card printing that requires a white border around the image.

With either of these lines of retransfer printers, you can expect high quality images and high-resolution print, ideal for keeping small print precise and visible. The resulting cards are more durable and higher quality than cards produced with other methods, such as traditional dye sublimation card printers. They’re also very consistent in quality, regardless of variable surfaces you may design, such as contactless chips.

Zebra Printer ZXP Series 9 Card Printers 


Delivering photo-quality cards at lightning-fast speed, the Zebra Printer ZXP Series 9 is a retransfer card printer series ideal for printing photos and graphics. Using Zebra printer software and exclusive Color Predictive Technology to monitor and adapt printer settings, this printer is dependable, and it’s specifically designed for high-security applications. These Zebra printers produce true edge-to-edge cards that are extremely durable—smart cards included. Choose the model that’s right for you: single-sided, magnetic encoding, dual-sided and dual-lamination.

Zebra’s Biggest Benefits:

Fast output of up to 190 cards per hour. Your print speed depends on variables such as the image’s dpi and whether or not you’re printing dual-sided, but the Zebra actually prints dual-sided cards faster than single-sided.

High print quality. Zebra printers consistently produce photo-quality ID cards in full color or with monochrome retransfer printing.

Forgery-proof products. Produce secure cards and reduce the likelihood of forgeries with features such as holographic images.

Waste-free laminate technology. Zebra’s patented waste-free laminate technology reduces waste by 50% over other kinds of printers. It also avoids jams and costly mechanical errors thanks to the Zebra’s patented dual-sided, simultaneous retransfer printing design, which eliminates the need to mechanically flip cards during production.

Other features:

  • Consistent and reliable card printing
  • Low cost-per-card
  • Dual-sided retransfer printing design
  • Multiple connectivity options such as USB, Ethernet and Wi-Fi
  • Color Predictive Technology delivers photo-like image quality
  • Easy access to printer info and support
  • 150 card hopper
  • Can print contact and contactless cards, smart cards with magnetic strips and smart chips, and UHF cards

Where the Zebra is better:

The Zebra printer can connect with USB port, Ethernet and also Wi-Fi—the Fargo printer lacks Wi-Fi connectedness.

Ideal choice for:

High-security applications, government, education, retail and hospitality industries—particularly ID cards needing photos and graphics.

HID Fargo HDP6600


The Fargo HDP6600 printer features retransfer printing technology and high-speed printing, producing secure, durable, high-definition cards. The Fargo card printer is able to print high-resolution, 600 dpi cards. Your end results are cost-effective, reliable and contain excellent quality text and images.

The HDP6600 includes innovative wasteless lamination technology to reduce materials costs by up to 40%. From the quick startup time to exceptionally fast printing, you’ll be ready to print secure, durable cards in very little time. You can customize which printing features you choose with its modular system of printers.

Fargo’s Biggest Benefits

Can print up to 230 cards per hour. The fastest retransfer printer available, Fargo printer can support high-yield, full-color ribbon and laminate products. A 200-card hopper is available to facilitate greater volume production.

Patent-pending technology ensures quick printer readiness. The Fargo printer’s innovative iON technology, an “instant on” capability, rapidly heats the transfer roller and optional laminator to allow the printer to reach optimal operating temperature in seconds, becoming fully ready to print your first card in less than a minute. Other lamination printers can take up to five minutes for that initial heat-up process.

Wasteless retransfer lamination. Using HID Global’s wasteless lamination technology, this Fargo printer does not need standard carrier film and take-up core like many laminate printers do. This means you’ll save on material costs by as much as 40%.

GreenCircle Certified. This Fargo printer reduces consumable waste, and its iON technology with intelligent temperature control reduces energy usage.

Other features:

  • Able to print and retransfer simultaneously
  • Can encode magnetic strips, contact smart cards and contactless smart cards
  • Prints to the edge on smart chip contacts and over the edge of each card
  • Optional card flattener
  • Dual-side, two-material options for flexible configurations

Where the Fargo is better:

The Fargo printer can hold more cards (200 vs. 150) with an optional input hopper, and can print faster (230 cards per hour vs. 150 cards per hour).

Ideal choice for:

Government IDs, corporate IDs and student IDs.

Works well for bulk card creation in government agencies, universities, medium-to-large businesses, and healthcare facilities.


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