Retransfer vs. Direct-to-Card Printers

Retransfer vs. direct-to-card printers: when considering how you want to produce your highest-grade, professional ID-cards, you must decide between the two. The announcement of Evolis’s Avansia retransfer printer in 2015 raised a key question among many clients: What is the difference between a retransfer printer and a direct-to-card printer?

The short answer? It’s all about how the printer applies your card design to the ID-card. One method first applies the card image to a thin film, and then transfers the complete image onto the card in one pass; the other prints directly onto the surface of the card (I know! I was surprised too! 🙂 ).

Below, we’ve broken this down into 4 sub-questions to compare the two. And we briefly discuss the inner workings of retransfer vs. direct-to-card printers. If you’re more interested in the differences than the inner-workings, feel free to skip the next section.

Retransfer vs. Direct-to-Card Printers: the Methods

Process Retransfer vs. Direct-to-Card Printers

Retransfer print process image courtesy of Magicard.

With retransfer printers, your card design (images and text) are first printed onto a clear “transfer film”. This is accomplished through a series of passes, one for each color being applied or created. The full, finished card-image is then thermally fused to the card’s surface. The transfer film helps protect the printed card details from abrasion and color fading, due to UV-light sources.

On the other hand, direct-to-card printers place the images and text directly onto the card. With this method, the card and print-ribbon pass over the stationary print-head, sequentially applying yellow, magenta, cyan and black ink (YMCK) to create virtually any color. After applying the color inks, the printer then applies a clear varnish across the full surface of the card, so as to protect the printed image.

What are the differences in results?

By laying the film over the card, a retransfer printer is capable of “over-the-edge” printing that maximizes the card’s surface area. Because the transfer film and applied image can be slightly longer and wider than the card itself, there is no visible margin. If you want a background image that covers the entire card, this is how best to achieve that result. The transfer film also acts as a protective barrier that renders the image slightly more durable.

A direct-to-card printer leaves a very thin border around the edges (only 1mm or so). This “near-to-edge” printing suffices if the card color itself serves as the background color for your ID design, or if full-card coverage is otherwise not required.

HID Global, maker of the Fargo HDP5000, HDPii, HDP5600 & HDP8500 retansfer printers states that retransfer printers create sharper, glossier images (a result of the gloss finish of retransfer films) while the clear varnish overlay applied by direct-to-card printers results in a matte finish. Importantly, the retransfer printing process is more forgiving of slight imperfections in a card’s surface. This is particularly beneficial if you print proximity access cards or smart-cards, as there is often a slight “dimple” on the card surface in-line with the internal electronic components. The retransfer method can also mask minor surface scratches, and even fingerprints.

Direct-to-card printers might not correctly render images over such surface items, resulting in imperfect color(s), or leaving small areas unprinted. Note that you can prevent some causes of these card-surface and print-quality issues by taking measures to protect your unused cards:

  • Handle cards only by their edges to prevent fingerprints from affecting printable surfaces.
  • Store unused cards in a closed container, and in a clean and dry location to avoid dust and surface damage.

What are the similarities?

Both print processes involve application of a full-card image, via thermal print-ribbons to the card surface – the retransfer printer just includes an additional step due to the use of retransfer film.

Both are designed to create durable cards. But all cards are subject to wear. To get the maximum life out of your cards, employ composite cards, add a lamination module to the printer (optional on certain printers), or wear finished cards within protective badge holders.

What materials do they require?

Both printer types require the use of color or monochrome print-ribbons. Retransfer printers additionally require clear retransfer film, on which the card design is first printed and then fused to the card. Typical ribbon designations for retransfer printers include YMCK & YMCKK.

Rather than using a retransfer film, direct-to-card printers use ribbons with an integrated varnish-overlay. This clear vanish overlay is applied as the last step in the print process, to protect the image from wear and fading in sunlight. Typical DTC ribbon designations are: KO, YMCKO, & YMCKOK.

The Bottom Line

Deciding between retransfer and direct-to-card printers really comes down to your use case. The retransfer printer helps you maximize your card’s surface, is more forgiving of imperfections, and is generally regarded as producing a better, glossier image. The direct-to-card printer removes the need for retransfer film and applies your design directly to the card, eliminating a step. Finally, retransfer printers and their supplies generally cost more than direct-to-card printers and their related supplies, so your budget will play a role in deciding which is right for your organization.

At the end of the day, which printer you need is always going to come down to your specific requirements. Hopefully this blog entry will help you think through that process.

Need more info?

Questions? Concerns? Not sure what printer is best for you? Call our ID-card experts toll-free at +1-888-485-4696 (US & Canada), or +1-704-535-5200 (elsewhere) for a free consulation. We are always glad to help!

Asure ID Software – Version 7

HID Global regularly updates their Asure ID Software version 7. We encourage users to keep up with these updates to take advantage of new features and prevent problems. The current version of Asure ID can always be downloaded online directly from HID. It is available as a free update for currently licensed users of Asure ID 2009 and Asure ID 7.x. Users of Asure ID 5.x, should contact us for special upgrade pricing.

asure id softwareFor help installing the update and accessing new shortcuts and functionalities, Asure ID also regularly updates the Asure ID User Guide. It is also available as a free download directly from the HID Global website.

The most recent program updates target increased functionality and support for HID’s ever-expanding access-control systems.

Asure ID Software Recent Release Highlights:

  • HID has updated the toolbar and application sidebar to more closely mirror the look and feel of recent Windows releases. This redesign makes learning and using Asure ID easier and more intuitive.
  • Enhancements to accommodate encoding of iClass SE proximity/access credentials.
  • Data entry and management are enhanced, allowing users to save font sizes and font types for both table and record views, further increasing customization options.
  • HID has introduced several keystroke enhancements  to simplify data entry, including the ability to use the “shift-key” to highlight multiple records at once for group action.
  • Beginning with Asure ID 7.7, the program retains the most recent photo location and cropped size. Most users find this change makes it easier to edit photographs and quickly produce photo IDs.
  • Finally, HID has added a quick filter feature that allows users to specify the order of entries.

As a result of these updates, data-entry is smoother and the software allows for better management of databases and data records.

Most notably, as HID expands their ecosystem to include embedded and standalone iClass SE Encoders, they continue to update Asure ID, in part to facilitate access-control system integration. As Asure ID 7.7, users can take advantage of iClass SE Encoders, optionally embedded within Fargo ID printers. This includes enabling automatic registration of finished card data to compatible access-control programs.

Need more info?

You can learn more about Asure ID in our dedicated product page, as well as our web-store. If you need assistance applying updates or have other questions, please call to speak with our ID-card experts. They are available toll-free at +1 888.485.4696 (from US & Canada) or +1 704.535.5200 (elsewhere). At Safe-Card ID, we are always glad to help!

Evolis Printer – Install an Evolis USB Printer on a Mac

Following are the steps to install an Evolis USB printer on a Mac running OS X version 10.4 through version 10.11.

  1. Prior to starting the installation, make sure you have Administrator rights.
  2. Plug the printer into an open USB port on the Mac and power-on the printer.
  3. Ensure that cards and ribbon are loaded in the printer, and that only the power-light is illuminated following the power-up sequence.
  4. Go to the Evolis Drivers & Support page, then click through to your specific printer model from the available choices.
  5. Scroll down the printer-specific downloads page to locate the Mac OS X driver, and download it to your desktop. Run the setup installation and follow the instructions during the installation process.
  6. Open the “Apple Menu”, then select System Preferences.Mac Installation
  7. Open Printers and Scanners.Mac Installation
  8.   Click on the + to add a printer. In the resultant pop-up window, your Evolis printer will already be detected and listed. Select the Evolis printer.Mac Installation
  9. In the “Use” box, choose “Select Software”Mac Installation
  10. In the drop-down menu, select the Evolis driver and the language you need, then click on “Add” to validate your choice.Mac Installation
  11.   The driver is now ready to be used, and you are ready to begin printing cards.

Congratulations! You’ve now completed the steps required to install an Evolis USB printer on a Mac, and are ready to go!

Other tips:

In your badge-printing software, ensure that the correct driver is selected for the printer, and also check the paper-size settings. Badge creation programs will usually offer “CR80” or “Card” as a standard size. Go to Printer Features to access any Evolis print-driver properties and adjust as necessary.

Need more info?

For more information about Evolis printers, review our blog for other Evolis printer tips and support posts, or call our ID experts toll-free at +1 888.485.4696 (from US & Canada), or +1 704.535.5200 (from other locations)

Asure ID Software Trial Download

Asure ID 7, the current version of HID Global’s industry-leading ID badge design software, is available for a free 30-day trial. In order to access the Asure ID trial, click here and visit the product download page. Asure ID 7 Cover

Asure ID Trial Available in All Four Editions*

HID Global’s ID badge design and printing software provides card issuers with a clean, easy-to-navigate interface, and a complete package of custom card printing options. Because there are 4 available editions, it is easy to find an option to satisfy nearly any type or size organization:

  • Solo Edition* – Simple, entry-level card design software for organizations requiring production for up to 200 database records;
  • Express Edition* – Powerful, stand-alone card design software optimized for single-user environments with virtually limitless data records;
  • Enterprise Edition* – Card design software for multiple workstations that share a common database;
  • Exchange Edition* – Support for more sophisticated secure credential applications, providing advanced smart card functionality and laser engraving.

*Note: Some features of these editions, including advanced database connections and card encoding are not enabled in the Asure ID trial edition. Despite this restriction, you may find the trial useful for familiarizing your users with the software. However, to determine if the software fits your needs, please call one of our experts at +1 704.535.5200.

Regardless of the edition selected, you will find Asure ID is easy to learn and full of features. It provides a wide range of capabilities in card issuance and card management for small and large organizations alike. If you’re unsure whether this software fits your needs, use the 30-day Asure ID trial to test it out.

Need More Info?

For purchasing information, please check out our Asure ID information page, or the Safe-Card ID webstore. Furthermore, we are happy to address your specific questions about ID-card software or ID-card printer systems! Simply contact our staff of ID experts toll-free at +1 888.485.4696 (US & Canada), or +1 704.535.5200 elsewhere.

Asure ID Software – Default User-ID & Password

Asure ID - Default User-ID & Password
A question we often receive in our customer support department is “What is the default user-ID & password for HID Global’s Asure ID card design and printing software?”

In order to access Asure ID, you must provide a user-ID & password each time you use the program. When it is first installed, a default user-ID & password combination for Asure ID is created.  It is best-practice to replace these default values with your own, secure user-ID & password. If you want to secure any personal identification data that appears on your ID-cards, this is particularly important.

In all but Asure ID’s entry-level Solo Edition, you can create separate user-IDs for an administrator user-ID and for non-administrator users. (Solo Edition does not support multiple user-IDs.)

If you have the Exchange Edition of Asure ID, you can also use Microsoft Active Directory / LDAP and implement single sign-on capabilities.

Asure ID Default User-ID & Password:

User Name*= admin
Password*= admin

(*You should input values exactly as they appear–they are case sensitive.)

Need more info?

For more information about Asure ID, or its various editions & features, please don’t hesitate to call and speak with one of our ID experts. We can be reached toll-free at +1 888.485.4696 from the US & Canada, or +1 704.535.5200 elsewhere. Software version & pricing information is also conveniently located elsewhere on our web-site, and in our web-store.

Asure ID product information is also available directly from the HID Global Asure-ID micro-site.

Fargo Printers How-to: Update Drivers and Firmware

All Fargo ID-card printers rely on “Drivers” & “Firmware” from their manufacturer, HID Global. Periodically, you must update drivers & firmware to correct minor faults, enhance functionality, or maintain compatibility with new releases of Windows and other supported operating systems.

Fortunately, Fargo makes it easy to check for updates, and to install them, via a free utility program – the Fargo Workbench Utility. Follow these steps to make sure you have the latest versions for your printer, and to update drivers & firmware. (Note: you must be connected to the internet and have Windows privileges sufficient to install programs and drivers.)

Use the Fargo Workbench Utility to Update Drivers & Firmware

Install Fargo Workbench & Check for Updates

  1. Download and install the Fargo Workbench Utility. Make sure to select the option to launch the program at the conclusion of the installation.
  2. Within Workbench, select your printer in the drop-down box in the top-right of the screen. (Tip: if the printer is not present, ensure that it is powered on and in a ready state, then click the “refresh” icon to the right of the drop-down box and try again.)
  3. Select the “Update Manager” option on the menu bar (far-left choice).
  4. Click the link for “Check for Updates”.
  5. Download available updates to either the drivers or firmware. These appear in the middle of the screen, with a button to the right to download from the Fargo web-site.
  6. Once the downloads are complete, you can update drivers & firmware, one at a time. We recommend that you start with the driver update.

Update Drivers

  1. In the update list, choose the driver update then click “apply update” to install.
  2. Note: installing new drivers may require removing the old drivers first, temporarily disconnecting the printer from your PC, and also re-booting your PC.

Update Firmware

  1. Move on to updating the firmware. Select the appropriate options (in the lower part of the screen) for the firmware and the printers.
  2. Now you can click to apply the firmware upgrade. As the update is occurring, the printer’s front-panel LED lights will flash, or a message will appear models with the LCD information screen indicating the update progress. Additionally, there is a progress indicator within Workbench that will count up from 0% to 100%, indicating completion.
  3. When the update completes, the printer will do a “soft” restart on its own.
  4. After the restart, the printer will come to a normal “Ready” state (assuming you have cards and ribbon loaded).

Now that the printer’s required drivers & firmware are current, you should again verify the correct ribbon setting and resume printing.

For more detailed instructions, including screen shots, you can download a PDF of HID Fargo’s instructions here.

Need more info?

If the above tips don’t get you going again, never fear – we are ready to help. Just reach out to our ID-card experts toll-free at +1 888.485.4696 (US & Canada), or +1 704.535.5200 (elsewhere) for personalized support.

 

HID Prox Card

Proxcard IIThe HID prox card is a contactless, integrated-circuit card used in conjunction with an access control system to manage use of secure facilities or networks. When presented to an appropriate reader, the card will transmit encoded information through that reader, and to a specialized controller or software application, which interprets this information. The software then processes the data against a custom set of rules and permissions, ultimately either allowing the card holder to have access to the requested resource, or not.

Common proximity cards are low-frequency (125kHz) devices, while newer cards and devices operate at high-frequency (13.56 MHz).

Although more expensive than standard PVC cards, proximity cards are often reasonably priced, allowing their use as a combined ID-card and proximity-card.

Current Fargo printers that will allow encoding of proximity cards are the Fargo HDP5000, Fargo HDP5600, Fargo DTC1250e, Fargo DTC4250e, and Fargo DTC4500e. For information about cards that can be integrated with identification applications, visit our HID prox-card page.

Evolis Zenius Promotion: April-June 2017

Evolis has made its popular Zenius printer available in a bundle with special pricing until June 30, 2017. For this time, this Zenius promotion is available for the price of the classic Zenius printer alone — a $300 savings! Evolis Zenius Promotion BundleThe Zenius promotion bundle includes:

The Evolis Zenius plastic-card printer, first introduced in 2012, is capable of printing high-quality ID-cards, employee badges, loyalty and gift cards, and more! Its small footprint and sleek design allow it to fit and look great in any office environment. Cards and print-ribbons load easily from the front, making it simple to operate. Further, the Evolis Premium Suite application will keep you constantly informed on the status of the printer. It will also ease routine maintenance tasks, like printer cleaning and firmware updates.

The included cardPresso XS Edition is the only major ID-card software that works in Windows and Mac OS-X environments alike. Plus, the XS edition allows you to populate and maintain your variable card-data with a simple Excel spreadsheet, eliminating the need for database software. cardPresso XS Edition also offers a “production mode”, where the user can only add, delete, or modify card data. This feature prevents card designs and templates from being altered accidentally, once created.

Like all printers we sell, Safe-Card ID Services provides free telephone-based technical support for the life of the printer.

Need more info?

Purchase this bundle in our online store, or call our ID experts toll-free at +1 888.485.4696 (US & Canada), or +1 (704) 535-5200 elsewhere. We’d be happy to help you determine if this bundle fits your needs, or find one that does. Mention this blog post and we’ll include an extra 100 cards, absolutely free!

New Firmware from Evolis

As part of its continuous improvement policy, Evolis has recently released new firmware for their printer line. Keeping your firmware up-to-date helps ensure that your printer works at peak performance. Often clients with out of date firmware will have trouble with their printer recognizing new ribbons or interacting with their computers. By keeping your firmware current, you can avoid many of these difficulties.

To update your firmware, please visit the Drivers & Support page on the Evolis website. Once there, simply select your printer model and scroll to the firmware downloads section. New firmware is available for the Evolis Primacy (all models), Evolis Zenius, Evolis Avansia, and Evolis Badgy 100 and 200 printers.

Evolis Card Printers – Card Feed Problems

This tech-tip is intended to help resolve card feed problems with Evolis Tattoo2, Evolis Pebble4 and Evolis Dualys3 plastic card printers. Some of the remedies may also apply to other Evolis printers, and those from other manufacturers.

Evolis Tattoo2, Pebble4, and Dualys3 - Card Feed Problems

Plastic card printers may have instances when they will not feed cards consistently from their card input hoppers. This can occur when there are just a few cards in the hopper. But it is more common when their card hoppers are full.

Usually, the cause is not with the printer itself. Rather, the problem most often is the result of the cards being difficult to separate.

Card Feed Problems – Remedies:

Before attempting remedies, remember to handle blank plastic cards carefully, and only by their edges. This will prevent the transfer of lint, dust, and residual body-oils from your fingertips. The presence of any of these contaminants can result in poor print-quality.

  1. Remove the cards from the input hopper and fan out or shuffle them to break any static-bond, and to dissipate natural static charge
  2. Check the card thickness gauge and set just slightly more than your blank cards’ thickness. For example, if the cards are 30 mils thick, adjust approximately 32 or 33 mils.
  3. Clean the card intake roller with alcohol wipes and/or an IPA alcohol cleaning card. Both are included in the Evolis #A5021 UltraClean printer cleaning kit.
  4. Ensure the cards are stacked properly in the card hopper, and that there are no obstructions that might prevent the printer from extracting them.

Need further assistance or more info?

Safe-Card ID Services offers our clients free telephone-based tech support for the life of all printers sold. For additional assistance, or other information about all Evolis printers, please contact our ID-card experts toll-free at +1 888.485.4696 (US & Canada), or +1 704.535.5200 (elsewhere).

Based in Angers, France, Evolis is a leading global manufacturer of quality plastic card printers.