Category Archives: Fargo Printer

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!

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.

 

SwiftID Card Software from HID Global

SwiftID is an ID-card design program that comes free with new Fargo DTC1250e, Fargo DTC4250e, and Fargo DTC4500e printers. The software is a no-frills option for designing and printing basic cards. SwiftID is installed with the Fargo Workbench Utility program, which is included on the product CD/DVD packed with each printer. The Workbench Utility can also be downloaded for free directly from the HID/Fargo website.

SwiftID offers basic card-design and printing options for items such as visitor cards or loyalty cards. There is no database available with this application, meaning that it does not store card data after printing. Instead the program erases data when you begin a new card or exit the program. Therefore, we do not recommend SwiftID if you have to retain, recall and reprint cards.

SwiftID also relies on some features built into each printer’s firmware. As such, only one user or PC can access it at a time, a significant limitation for a network-connected printer. In these cases, users will have to develop a method to ensure only one user prints cards at a time. (Ethernet connectivity is optional on the DTC1250e, and standard on the DTC4250e and DTC4500e).

Prerequisites for use of SwiftID include use of Windows 7, 8.1 or 10 on the host PC, and an installed copy of the Fargo Workbench Utility. HID/Fargo’s technical support group handles support for both applications directly.

Additional Limitations:

In addition to the items mentioned above, SwiftID has a limited font selection available and no ability to print bar-codes. It also cannot encode mag-stripes or proximity access or smart cards. Clients with these additional requirements are advised to purchase Asure ID, a more advanced software offering from HID Global.

Need more info?

For additional information about SwiftID, or current Fargo printer models and options, please contact our ID experts toll-free at +1 888.485.4696 (from US & Canada), or +1 704.535.5200 (elsewhere).

Fargo Printer – Wrong Ribbon Error

We often receive calls from clients whose Fargo ID card printers display a “wrong ribbon” error. This error will appear on the printer’s LCD screen or on the user’s computer monitor and has a few potential causes.HID Fargo Printers - wrong ribbon error

Common Causes of the “Wrong Ribbon” Error:

Hardware Fault

Occasionally, we find that there is a hardware fault with the printer, particularly with the ribbon sensor or RFID-tag reader. After ruling out the other possible problems listed below, please call one of our experts if you still receive the “wrong ribbon” error.

Wrong Ribbon

You could, indeed, have the wrong ribbon for the printer. Many Fargo ribbon cartridges look identical, and there are no markings on the ribbon carriers to indicate which you have. For example, a YMCKO ribbon for the Fargo DTC1250e looks like the YMCKO ribbon for the DTC4250e, but they are not interchangeable. Each ribbon has an embedded RFID tag which includes a ribbon part-number. The printer’s corresponding firmware includes a list of all ribbons that are compatible with the printer. As a result, if your ribbon is not compatible with your printer, you will receive this message.

Bad Ribbon RFID Tag

Fargo ID-card printer ribbons are manufactured to include an RFID tag, which contains information about the ribbon itself (ribbon type, lot number, manufacturing site, etc.). On VERY rare occasions, this RFID tag is missing, or the data has been corrupted. This will prevent the printer from recognizing an otherwise good ribbon as valid. Try another ribbon if you have one available.

Out-of-Date Firmware

You could have out-of-date firmware on your printer. Periodically, Fargo will introduce new firmware to include updated manufacturing information. Once this new firmware is introduced, they will include new data on the encoded RFID tag affixed to the ribbon cartridge.  A printer with outdated firmware will be unable to validate ribbons that have this new encoding and reject them, returning a “wrong ribbon” error. Please see our separate blog post “Fargo Printers How-to: Update your Drivers and Firmware” for detailed instructions on updating firmware.

Incorrect Driver Setting

But most-likely, the error is the result of an incorrect print-driver setting. For example, you may have a full-color (YMCKO) ribbon, but a print driver set for a monochrome-black (K) ribbon. This mismatch between the actual ribbon loaded, and the ribbon the PC “thinks” should be loaded will result in a mismatch, and “wrong ribbon” error. For this scenario, follow the directions below to change the printer driver settings.

Choosing the Correct Driver Setting

Prior to beginning the instructions below, please verify that you have Windows administrator rights or have been granted Windows permissions by  your network administrator to change the driver functions on your computer. Without these elevated privileges, you will not be able to make these changes.

  1. Click the Windows “Start” icon (usually the lower-left corner of your screen);
  2. Select “Devices and Printers” (if not visible, enter this as a term in the search box);
  3. Locate your Fargo printer and right-click on it;
  4. Select and click on “Printing preferences” – a new window will open;
  5. Select the “Device Options” tab, then use the drop-down box to select your ribbon type;
  6. Click the “Apply” button in the lower-right, and then click “OK” to finish and close the Window.

Need more info?

Fargo ID-card printers are manufactured by HID Global. For information about Fargo printers, contact us for a free consultation toll-free at +1 888.485.4696 (US & Canada), or +1 704.535.5200 (elsewhere).

The Value of High-Quality Printer Consumables

It is always important to buy high-quality consumables for your ID Card Printers from authorized dealers in order to get the best life and results from your machine. At Safe-Card ID Services, we are one such dealer, but there are lots out there; find a dealer you trust!

Less reputable dealers may offer cards and ribbons that are “compatible” with your printer, but are not certified. While you may find that they can offer these at a discount, it’s a cost-cutting measure you may pay for down the road. In the last couple of months we have seen a local company ruin multiple print-heads by using sub-standard cards. Not only was this an inconvenience that interrupted their card production, it was costly, as printer manufacturers’ printer warranties do not cover the print-head if it is damaged due to the use of poor-quality or non-genuine consumable items.

Flaws common to poor-quality cards include the presence of foreign objects (dirt, dust, hair, and plastic particles) irregular sizing and thickness, and jagged cut edges. In the best-case scenario, use of such cards will require more frequent printer cleaning–to remove those foreign objects from your printer. The worst-case scenario results in physical damage to the printer, and specifically the expensive print-head.

Problems you may see with poor-quality ribbons: they may not be compatible with RFID sensors, or printer firmware updates, leading to “no ribbon” or “unknown ribbon” errors, and preventing its use. Also, non-genuine ribbons often are made with sub-standard materials, leading to low-quality images, rendering of colors inconsistently, ribbons tearing and sticking to card surfaces, all of which can also cause damage to the print-head.

All printer manufacturers stipulate that the use of non-branded or low-quality materials can void printer and print-head warranties. While great online deals can be tempting, it is important to make sure that the materials are of high quality – both to preserve your device warranty, and to ensure the best possible output.

The bottom line: be sure to inspect materials before using them. A broken printer costs more to replace or repair than you could ever save with aftermarket or “gray-market” supplies. So find a trustworthy, authorized dealer for your printer consumables, and rest assured that your printer investment will be protected.

Fargo HDP5000 – Ribbon Has Miscued Error

When using a Fargo HDP5000 printer, the error code “ribbon hasThe Fargo HDP5000 sometimes returns a "ribbon has miscued" error miscued” may display on the LCD screen. The printer may also display an Error Code 97. The following are the steps you can take to attempt to resolve the error and resume printing.

  1. Open Windows’ “Devices and Printers” screen;
  2. Locate the HDP5000 printer, and right-click on it with your mouse;
  3. Select the option for “Printing Preferences”;
  4. Select the tab named “Card”;
  5. Click the link button for “ToolBox” and a new window will open;
  6. In the new window, select the “Calibrate Ribbon” tab, and follow the directions provided.

If the calibration finishes normally, resume printing your cards. If the calibration does not resolve the problem, or the same errors continue to occur, please contact us about your warranty or service options, as this error is also symptomatic of a ribbon sensor that has gone bad.

For a complete list of error codes for the HDP5000, access the User Guide provided by HID Global. A list of the codes that appear on the LCD screen begins on page 65 of the PDF.

Visit our website or web store for information about the Fargo HDP5000 and other Fargo printers. For further technical support, contact us for a free consultation at +1 888.485.4696 (US & Canada), or +1 704.535.5200.

Uh-Oh! Ribbon Not Recognized on Your Trusty Fargo Printer?

HID_Fargo_Ribbon_Insert2

Ribbon insert provided by HID, indicated the need for a firmware update.

Hopefully, many of you are staying on top of your firmware updates. If you aren’t and have a Fargo printer, today is the day to catch up. HID Fargo has updated the RFID chip in their 442xx print ribbons. As you may know, the RFID chip ensures that you have genuine HID/Fargo ribbons, which assures warranty coverage and proper functioning, plus enables automatic ribbon sensing and settings for those who may switch ribbons periodically. As a result of this change, if you have a Persona C30 or PersonaC30e, you may find that your printer does not immediately recognize your new 442xx ribbon, making the printer unusable until the proper device firmware is loaded.

If this is the case, you simply need to update your printer’s firmware. (If you like to get ahead of potential pitfalls, this is also a great process to undergo–it will help you stay on top of important updates in the future!) This can be done by using the Fargo Workbench Utility to download and install any new firmware, as well as any driver updates. These steps will help you make this update smoothly:

  • If it is not already loaded on your PC, download and install the Fargo Workbench Utility from the HID/Fargo website here: http://www.hidglobal.com/drivers/15325;
  • Ensure your Fargo printer is connected and powered on, and that you have a “live” internet connection, then start/run Fargo Workbench
  • In the upper-right of the application screen is a drop-down box where you can select the Fargo printer you wish to work with (if you have only one, it should be pre-selected);
  • Click on the “Update Manager” icon in the upper-left of your screen;
  • Click the link to “Check for Updates” just under the Update Manager icon. Workbench will automatically connect to the HID/Fargo servers, and report any needed updates to either the printer drivers or the firmware.
  • If any updates are found, click the appropriate button to first “Download”, then to “Apply” the discovered updates. If both driver and firmware updates are available, we recommend applying the driver update(s) first, and then the firmware update.
  • If no updates are available, then congratulate yourself for avoiding trouble before it found you!

If you have already installed the most recent firmware and your printer still does not recognize your ribbon, or if you have trouble with any of the above, please call one of our experts at +1 704.535.5200 or +1 888.485.4696 (US & Canada). We’re happy to help!

Fargo Ribbon Compatibility – C30 and DTC400 Series Printers

The new Fargo DTC series printers, the Fargo DTC1000 and Fargo DTC4000 printers have printer ribbons that can not be used straight out of the box in older Persona C30 and Fargo DTC400 card printers. With a firmware update, however, these older printer models can be updated so that they are able to print with the new printer ribbons.

To update the C30 or DTC400 series printer:

1. Visit http://fargosupport.com/
2. Locate your current printer using the drop down box.
3. Update both the workbench and the firmware.

Once these steps are completed, you can use DTC1000 printer ribbons with the C30 and C30e printers. You can also use DTC4000 ribbons with your DTC400 or DTC400e printer.

Persona C30e – How to Calibrate the Ribbon

To calibrate the ribbon sensor, click the Start button in the lower left corner of your monitor and select Settings. Then select Printers and Faxes. Depending on your installation of Windows, you may need to go to the Control panels and then select Printers.


In the Printers and Faxes window, Right Click on the driver for your printer and select Printing Preferences from the list.

In the Persona C30e Card Printer Printing Preferences window, Select the Calibrate tab and then click the Sensors button.

For the C30 and C30e printers follow the instructions in the Calibration window to calibrate the ribbon sensor. When the calibration is complete, the printer will beep twice.

Note that for the C30 or C30e printer, you must cover the front of the printer before clicking the send button to prevent ambient light from entering the printer as it may negatively impact the ribbon calibration process.

For information about Fargo printers or other photo id card systems, contact our ID card experts at 888-485-4696.

Persona C30e – Wrong Ribbon Error

A wrong ribbon error received on a Fargo Persona C30 or C30e card printer usually is caused by an incorrect printer driver setting. Below, we will detail how to correct this error by adjusting the settings in Windows.

Adjusting Print Driver Settings with Printing Preferences

** Note – to make the changes referenced below, your Windows logon ID must have administrative privileges, or have elevated privileges sufficient to allow for the modification of device drivers. **

To correct the Persona C30/C30e wrong ribbon error, you will first need to locate the device driver settings. You can access the via the “Devices and Printers” screen, accessible through Windows’ “Control Panel”. (For legacy users still operating Windows XP, use the “Printers and Faxes” screen, also accessed via “Control Panel”.) Once you’ve opened this screen, locate and right-click on the Persona C30/C30e printer, the highlight and left-click “Printing Preferences”.

Screenshot of Printer and Faxes Window, fixing a C30e wrong ribbon error
When the Printing Preferences window opens, select the Device Options tab.

Screenshot of Printer Preferences Window, fixing a C30e wrong ribbon error
From within the Device Options tab, select the correct ribbon type. Alternatively, you can automatically set the driver to the correct ribbon type by clicking the “Auto Ribbon Select” check-box. After selecting the correct ribbon type, click the “Apply”, then “OK” buttons to save any changes. (** Note – if the “Apply” and/or “OK” buttons are grayed out and non-functional, this indicates that you do not have the required Windows privileges to make driver changes.)

Next, close the program from which you print your cards, then restart it. This will allow that program to recognize and utilize the new driver setting.

Screenshot of Device Options Tab, fixing a C30e wrong ribbon error

Quick-Tip:

If you are unsure which ribbon type you use, locate the part number on the original box. Compare that number to the ribbon configuration options, below, setting the driver to the one appropriate for that ribbon. For example, if the box indicates a Fargo #044200, set the driver to “YMCKO – Full Color/Resin Black/Overlay”.

C30/C30e Ribbon Colors and Part Numbers

Wrong Ribbon Error Still Not Resolved?

For more information about wrong ribbon errors in Fargo printers, please visit this post on the topic, which covers several other potential problems. If you think that you may have out-of-date firmware or drivers, this post details how to update those, which will help ensure that your printer can recognize the most currently produced ribbons.

We are proud to offer free phone support for our clients! Therefore, if you purchase your supplies or printers from us, one of our technicians will walk you through these adjustments. We’re also happy just to chat or to provide more information about Fargo printers or other photo ID card systems. You can reach our ID-card experts toll-free at +1 888.485.4696 (from the US or Canada), or +1 704.535.5200 (elsewhere).

Safe-Card ID Services is an authorized dealer and service center for Fargo printers, Asure ID software, and related supplies.

HID Global is a leading global provider of secure identity products and services under the Fargo, Asure ID and HID brand names.