ID Badge Printer Selection Tutorial
There are several badge printer output technologies to select from when choosing the best printer for your project. The most common is PVC dye-sublimation, or dye-sub, the newest technology is PVC dye sub reverse transfer also called high definition printing. There is still justification for the use of ink jet laminated Teslinbadges (very durable plastic like media...looks like paper but not).
How many ID badges will be issued initially; and then ongoing per year?
- Determining your annual volume is very important.
- LOW VOLUME is less than 150 badges issued per year.
- MID VOLUME is between 150 and 600 badges per year.
- HIGH VOLUME is greater than 600 badges per year.
TIP: do not think low volume automatically means the least expensive printer is the best choice.
Will you be printing the backside of the ID badge?
- This is your billboard to everyone carrying your badge. A blank badge back is like having a billboard on a highway that is left blank.
- What is the most important message you have to say to your group? Say it on the badge backside as a constant reminder: mission statements and emergency procedures are great items to consider.
If printing on the back of the badge, do you need a duplex printer to automatically print the back?
- This is the best option for mid to high volume environments.
- For projects that have multiple front designs that need different back designs (Faculty, Staff, Student /Full time, Part time employees, etc.).
- When printing bar codes on the back side. (PVC lamination module or laminated Teslin configurations are highly recommended for durability)
(Or) will you want to have the same constant back text custom printed on all card media so only a single sided printer is needed?
- This is a great option if everyone will receive the same back side design and you can justify ordering over 500 custom printed cards.
- If a small group requires a special back design see next line item.
(Or) would the option of batch printing the back of the badge with a black ribbon be an efficient model using a single sided printer?
- For projects that are low volume, order a black (K or KO panel) ribbon and batch print your own backs.
- A great solution even for those with high volume single sided printers with a large inventory of unprinted cards to use up.
Is ID badge durability important; a badge that will last more than 2 years?
- Specify composite (polyester/PVC blend) card media that will last much longer than standard 100% PVC media which cracks after constant exposure to sun and temperature extreme changes.
- Most common badge crack location is in the slot area.
If durability is required, would you require a PVC card printer to automatically produce a durable laminated ID badge all in one single process?
- The lamination module is the recommended solution for high volume projects that need long lasting badges.
- This is approximately a $2000 upgrade, along with increased supply and support costs.
- Do not forget that you must specify composite PVC card media for use in a lamination module.
- Most RFID and smart cards come in composite formats, make sure you specify this when ordering.
(Or) could you implement a system that laminates a high quality inkjet printed ID badge (all plastic insert) using a desktop laminator?
- If yes and you are a low volume project, we recommend considering the ink jet laminated Teslin printer solution.
- This is also a great option for those requiring large format badges that need to last: such as conference, special events and law enforcement credentials.
Are you going to be printing RFID or Smart Cards and/or are you looking for the highest quality print available?
- This is where reverse transfer/high definition printing should be considered.
- The primary benefit is that the print head is warrantied for life in most high-def PVC printers as the print head never comes in contact with the card.
- It prints a reverse image on a film ribbon that is then sealed to the card.
- A side benefit is that high-def printers are a cartridge load, making them easier to remove and replace.
- This will be a budget increase over standard dye-sub printers for both the hardware, supplies and extended support plans offered.
- If you are looking for the best, this is it.
Will you require the printer to automatically encode a unique number on a high coercivity magnetic stripe during production?
- HiCo mag stripes are a great low cost technology for time and attendance and point of sale systems.
- HiCo readers are typically found in clean indoor environments, however they do need periodic cleaning.
- You will want to make sure that you select a printer with an in-line encoder module.
- If you have the choice and budget, RFID is always the best solution for most card reader based projects.
Will you require the badge printer to print fluorescent custom patterns and images that are displayed when viewed with special lighting?
- This is only as secure as you manage your badging system's access, and designed for environments with higher security environments.
- As an option, you can order badge media with custom printed security seals if you have a secure storage location and order your printer with a lockable card hopper.
Do you require USB and/or Ethernet printing?
- If this is going to be a shared printer, Ethernet is the way to go.
- For most printers this is an upgrade option.
Did you know that you must order cleaning supplies for your printer?
- DO NOT forget to order cleaning kits, a must for long lasting printers.
- Some printers will shut down until they are cleaned, so make sure you have supplies on hand for your selected printer.
- A side note, the alcohol cleaning cards are great to clean your magnetic strip readers.
So did you think these printers never breakdown?
- The good news, most PVC printers come with a two year parts and labor warranty,
- Some of the PVC printers lines that have the least market share offer a three year warranty as an incentive.
- Most PVC printers come with a free express mail loaner printer during the first year.
- Some of the low end printers do not offer loaners.
- It is highly advisable to budget for extended warranties for four years out.
- You do have the option of just extending the parts and labor warranty.
- For a little more you can add the loaner.
TIP: If you can go 10 business days or longer without making badges you will not require the loaner extension.
So can you pick you printer configuration now?
Low, Mid or High Volume printer?
Single side or duplex printing?
Mag Stripe Encoder or not?
Lamination Module or not?
Dye-sublimation or High-Definition?
Security Pattern or not?
USB and/or Ethernet configured?
Inkjet Laminated Teslin or not?
If you are still not sure, call us: 800-909-8602.
Author: Joe French