Card Printing Tips & Advice

A Guide to Choosing a New ID Card Printer (Part Three)

A guide to choosing a new ID card printer.
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So, you’ve hopefully reached this post because you’ve realised it’s time to upgrade your outdated ID card printer.

It can seem like a daunting task when deciding which ID card printer is right for you.

Do you go with the same model or brand as you’ve used before?

What if another model is more suited to your needs?

Are you working within a budget?

We understand how much information there is to process, so to make it a little easier, we’ve created this handy guide to help give you a clearer idea of the factors to consider before making a decision.

Don’t forget, we run trade-in deals all year round where you’ll receive money off a new printer, just ask us for more information.

Type of Printer

Firstly, lets start with the basics.

There are two types of ID card printers available:

  • Direct-to-card (DTC)
  • Retransfer

In simple terms, direct-to-card printers are the most common printer type for basic ID card printing, using thermal heat to print images directly onto the ID card. But DTC only prints edge-to-edge so a small white boarder is visible around the side of the card.

Retransfer printers are designed to deliver the highest quality card print possible. It uses a two-step process to transfer your image onto a retransfer film first before adhering it onto the card. Retransfer printers cover over-the-edge printing, so there is no white border and produce incredibly high-resolution cards.

To find out more, we’ve created a helpful video highlighting the differences between DTC thermal and Retransfer printers.

Next up is card design.

Card Design

Now before you decide on the printer type, you need to think about the card design.

It is imperative that the design of the card is factored into your purchase decision.

The questions you need to answer are:

  1. Do you have a card design?
  2. Is the design likely to change in the future?
  3. What card type are you using? Standard PVC or an access control card?

If you don’t factor these questions into your decision and go ahead and choose the first printer because the price is right, then we have to make you aware that if the design, card type or technology changes in the future, it’s possible you will need to replace the printer.

This will cost you more money as the model you have chosen is not able to print the design, resulting in a poor quality finish.

Red single-sided open-faced ID card holder and secure photo ID card

The reason we are highlighting this to you now is that we speak to lots of companies that need a printer because they’ve been mis-sold a DTC printer because it can’t print the design, or print onto the cards they have and we don’t want you to join the list.

Once you have decided on the right printer type to match your card design, it is time to look at the finer details of the printer.

Single-Sided or Dual-Sided?

If you only want to add information to one side of an ID card, then a single-sided printer will do exactly that.

But if you need to print on both sides of the card, for example printing a barcode or text on the reverse, then you will require a dual-sided printer.

Connection Type

Most ID card printers come with a standard USB connection. This only allows the printer to connect to one device.

If you require connection to a network or several workstations, then you need to opt for an Ethernet connection.

Volume Requirements

The next step is to think about how many cards you want to print annually.

If this is a small volume, then look at printers which cater specifically to this.

There is no point choosing a printer with a high-volume capacity, and vice-versa, if that’s not what you need as you would just be wasting money on a printer that isn’t right.

Visual Security Features

Do your ID cards require a level of visual security?

Every manufacturer now recognises the importance of having a secure, tamper-proof ID card, and so have upgraded their ID card printers, enabling you to add visual security features to your printed cards.

Magicard printers now come with a built-in Holokote custom watermark.

IDP Smart printers come with UV ink printing and newer models have SmartMark technology as standard.

Ask yourself, how easy do you want to make it for somebody to clone your cards?

Magicard Holokote ID card

Physical Security Features

Once you’ve decided on what visual card security you need, it’s also important to think about whether your ID card printer requires any security features.

Does it need locks to keep prevent anyone accessing the used ribbon and cards?

Or what about a Kensington lock to attach the printer to a piece of office furniture?

Providing security for your ID card printer is just as important as keeping your printed cards secure.

Warranty Period

Each ID card printer comes with a warranty period, but it’s vital to look at this and see whether it is applicable with your needs. If this doesn’t work for your organisation, there are extended warranty plans you can purchase with the printer.

Warranty periods range from two years all the way through to five years, which is available on all IDP Smart Printer models.

Cost of Consumables

Often an afterthought, but you always need to look at the cost of consumables for your card printer.

Depending on the quality and size, some ribbons are more expensive than others.

As you will need to continue to purchase these ribbons in order to print, you must check if the cost of consumables will fit within your printing budget.

Card printer ribbon

These are all essential points that need to be taken into consideration when choosing a new ID card printer, but first you need to look at your card design and the printer type to match this.

Once all these factors have been decided, it will make choosing your new ID card printer a simpler process.

If you require more information than you can download a copy of our “Card Printer Buying Guide” here or speak to a member of our team direct on 0800 988 2095.

But that’s not all.

Keep a look out for part four of this series where we share all of our current trade-in deals, allowing you to get the most for your money.

Adam Bennet
Adam has been the Digital Marketing Manager here at Digital ID since 2015. Adam is in charge of the content creation and promotion on our blog and has been featured on sites like Entrepreneur, Talk-Business and Brighter Business to name a few. See what he gets up to in the office by following him on Twitter @adamjbenno.

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