Category Archives: Glossary

ID Card Printer System Components

Evolis Pebble Printer SystemThe decision has been made. An ID badge system is needed for your organization. Important decisions will need to be reviewed and made at this time to get started. Specific requirements of your badges may call for a special module in the printer or a special software version to make sure that your badge needs are met. Prepackaged systems are perfect for most small businesses and organizations, however, it is important to take a peek at the options to make sure that your organization is set up not only for today, but for future badge printing requirements.

ID Badge Software – Choosing the correct software may be one of the most complex decisions in choosing an id card printer system. There are multiple manufacturers with a variety of software versions that can accomplish anything you could need on a card. Current and future needs of your organization will provide you with guidance as to which software best meets your needs.

ID Card Printers – The selection of a printer is also worth reviewing. There are a number of manufacturers as well for high quality printers. Printers can vary in the ability to print a basic badge to those with a high level of security with embedded information. You don’t want to over purchase in this area, but it is important to make sure that your selected printer has the capabilities to meet card printing needs both now and in the future. Some printers will ease the budget crunch a bit as they allow you to add card printing modules in the field at a later time. These printers can expand as your needs require.

ID Card Camera – It is important to have a camera that will provide the level of quality you want on your badges. Some companies do not really care about the quality of picture on the card. A simple camera that will print a black and white photo on the card is sufficient. Other organizations us the card as a visual identification and are specifically interested in a quality photo on their cards. A good digital camera is often sufficient for this. If a specific level of quality is needed, a consultation with an id card integrator may be beneficial.

Cards and Consumables – Standard PVC cards are used for most card printing. There are situations based on access needs and security needs that a specialize card is required. Print ribbons are specific to the printer selected. Normally, each model of printer has a number of ribbon types that will fit the application required. The card may be worn by the card holder. If so, a slot punch may be needed to make an attachment hole in the badge. There are numerous badge attachments that can provide a specified way to wear badges while on the job.

iCLASS and MIFARE Authentication Process

Proximity Badges

The HID iCLASS and MIFARE cards have embedded information inside to activate a door so that the cardholder is able to access the area to complete authorized tasks. The cards are considered contactless smart cards.

The basic process of authorization is almost identical to the process in our How an HID card works blog post. The card is read by the appropriate scanner or reader. The reader transfers the internal binary code to the access controller which interprets the card information in accordance with it’s programming and the database of cardholder information. The controller reviews the length of the data string and the format of the information prior to proceeding further in the sequence. If the format and data string pass, the card is analyzed for facility and site codes. Card numbers are reviewed for access authorization.

In addition to the above processes, an iCLASS and MIFARE card will go through an additional security step. These cards will compare security keys found in both the card and the reader. This process is called mutual authentication. This process happens prior to the forwarding of information from the card reader to the access controller. If the security keys match, the reader activates the process of forwarding the information. If they keys do not match, the reader does not forward the information to the controller as the card is not able to be activated.

For more information about proximity cards or smart card badge holders, contact our id card experts toll free at 888-485-4696.

How HID Prox Cards Work

Proximity Badges

An HID prox card allows a card with information embedded inside to activate and open a door so that the cardholder can enter a secure area. The proximity card does not have the capability of accessing an area within itself. The card with additional components, provides a complete system that provides security for a controlled area.

The card is normally combined with three other items to complete an access system. In addition to the cards, a system consists of a card reader, an access control panel and a computer. In combination with each other, the system is able to function as a security officer allowing authorized persons into a building at authorized times of the day or night.

The card does not have any additional item in it over an embedded binary code (ones and zeros) that are used in a specific sequence to identify the card holder. The format of the coding is able to be picked up by the card reader and transferred to the control panel for deciphering. The card usually does not have additional information stored in it outside of the formatted code. Occasionally, the card may contain an additional code that some readers will strip off and possibly use. The format however, transfers to the access control panel.

When the controller receives the data from the card reader, the controller begins the process of the information. Various steps are completed to determine whether the cardholder has access to the building. Some of the criteria a controller uses are to review the length of the data string and the format of the information. It may be possible that a card held up to a reader is in a different format that the controller can not process.

The controller then checks the facility code and site code for a match. If so, the card number is reviewed for a match in the database. If there, the card may be reviewed to see if it is authorized for that specific time frame and date. If so, the lock relay will be activated to allow the door to open.

If the card is not able to activate the door opener, some systems will provide a specific response from the controller. Other systems may not provide any response at all.

The computer which hosts the controller will provide a software application allowing authorized personnel to update cardholder information, configure the hardware that allows door access and provides reporting functions regarding the system use.

For more information about HID prox cards, proximity cards or smart card badge holders, contact our id card experts toll free at 888-485-4696.

Need to select the right ID Card Printer?

Fargo Fargo DTC400e

Trying to figure out which of the many id card printer options is the best one for your current and future needs. Followin are tips for the right id card printer selection:

1. The design of the badge – Does the card require full color photos and logos? Does the card need to be printed only on the front of the badge or on both sides? Does the card require full color printing or will single color options work for your badging? Answers to these questions will guide you into certain models of printers and exclude others from available options.

2. The function of the badge – Is the card only for identification by humans or does it need to have the capabilies of being read by machine scanners and readers for access and enterance requirements. Some basic level printers do not have options for encoding.

3. The environment of the badge -Where will the badge be used? Will it endure harsh conditions? Will it be carried safely in a cardholder wallet? How many years is the expected lifespan before replacement is acceptable to the organization.

4. The number of badges printed – Some printers are made for light card production environments. Hand fed printers do not have the capabilities of production like high volume industrial printer models where thousands of cards may be needed daily.

5. Security requirements of the badge – Will the badge need to be highly secure and not able to be counterfeited? Is there a need for biometrics, access control features or holographic laminates on the badge.

6. Where is the information that will be printed on the badge – Will each badge be hand typed in? Is there information in an Access database or MySQL database that can be imported into the database? Will the printer system be on a network or be on a stand alone computer?

With the answers to the above questions, an id card expert can provide you with options that would perfectly fit the requirements of your organization. We provide and service Asure ID Software, ID Flow Software, EpiSuite, Fargo printer models, Evolis printer models, CIM printer models and Magicard printer models.

Tips to Incorporate Security in your ID Card Design

custom id

It is easy to duplicate a white card with a logo and name on it. There are additional security measures you may wish to consider when designing your id card for maximum security.

1. To begin the graphic design process, you may find it helpful to divide your card up into a grid. Place the larger and fixed elements into the card first and determine whether the card will be veritical or horizontal. Remember to leave a placeholder for the badge slot punch if there will be one on your cards.

2. Use color in your card. Avoid extremes. Dark colors are hard to read and light colors make the card look washed out. Bright colors work best with variance in color to distinguish different levels of access or achievement.

3. A colored photo of the cardholder as large as possible on the card increases the security of the card. A colored photo is more secure than a black and white picture. Although high resolution is important, a picture size that is too large will be combersome in some computers and id badge design programs.

4. Choose a good font or fonts that appeal to the reader and are in good taste. Too many fonts on the card are distracting. Often a sans serif font is recommended for the text.

5. You may wish to incorporate a hologram on the card. The hologram can be clear, a standard pattern or custom. The protective overlay makes it difficult for counterfeiters to reproduce.

6. If your budget allows for an advanced printer, you may wish to consider a printer that uses reverse image printing technology. The security level of these cards are greater than a standard direct-to-card print. With the additional benefits of a better quality print and durability of the cards, some organizations choose to go this route.

If you have additional questions about id card printing, contact our id card experts at 888-485-4696. We provide and service Asure Software, ID Flow Software, EpiSuite, Fargo printer models, Evolis printer models, CIM printer models and Magicard printer models.

HID Prox Cards – Increase Safety and Eliminate Proximity Card Cloning

Proxcard II

Proximity cards are contactless integrated circuit cards that are used to access a secure area or network. The increased security of these cards make them imperative in the operations of many organizations with confidential areas and databases of personal information.

Although technology can provide a high level of security. The cards will not, within themselves, provide complete security without proper policies and procedures implemented throughout the organization.

HID corporation recommends implementing the following procedures with the use of prox cards to maximize security and eliminate the possibility of cloning the cards for improper uses.

  1. Require immediate reporting of lost or stolen cards (so they can be deleted from the system)
  2. Prohibit sharing or lending of cards
  3. Encourage employees to shield their cards from public view when not at work (this makes sense from a privacy perspective as well if a name and picture are printed on the card)
  4.  Encourage reporting of suspicious activity at the facility
  5. Discourage “tailgating” where one employee uses a card to gain access and others follow without using their own cards.

HID also recommends using RFID shielding products to increase the security level of HID cards not in use.

Current Fargo printers that will allow encoding of proximity cards are the Fargo HDP5000, Fargo DTC550 and Fargo DTC400e. For information about cards that can be integrated with identification applications, visit our HID prox card page.

HID Prox Card

Proxcard II

Proximity cards are contactless integrated curcuit cards that are used to access a secure area or network. When held near an appropriate reader, the card is activated to transmit encoded information to the reader. The reader facilitates the information obtained from the card and transmits it to the software that can “read” the information. The software processes the data and determines the access level of the card–either allowing the card holder access to the requested area or denying the entrance.

Common cards are 125kHz devices. Newer cards are contactless and are 13.56 MHz.

Although more expensive than standard PVC cards, proximity cards can be obtained for a reasonable price. The access cards can be used in a multifunctional way and combined with id cards and debit card systems.

Current Fargo printers that will allow encoding of proximity cards are the Fargo HDP5000, Fargo DTC550 and Fargo DTC400e. For information about cards that can be integrated with identification applications, visit our HID prox card page.

ID Card Software – Why It is Needed

ID Card software helps you make your organizations unique custom ID cards. The software is easy to use and makes it possible to make simple or complex id badges right at the convenience of your own desk. The software is designed to allow you to create a professional looking badge that can be updated or changed with a few keystrokes.

Many ID card software packages allow multiple designs to be saved for a number of unique badges that your organization may need to print in a large quantity or even just one. By having your own software, the organization does not have to hire a custom id card company to make additional badge designs or change current badge designs to updated company requirements.

The software needed to make the badges offers the card designer the ability to import logos and other files to create a custom badge. Most software offers a database of employee photos and information that is managed by your card printer operator. Your company has control over who makes badges, when they are printed and how many times. The software will often be able to download needed data from other databases which helps in creating the badges quickly and easily.

All badge software from dependable software companies allow the printing of barcodes and encoding of magnetic strips which produce increased functionality of the cards. Prior to purchasing the software, contact a company representative or review a software specification sheet to make sure that the capabilities needed are available with the selected software.

There are two parts to most standard ID card software. The first is the design component. This section of the software allows you to design the badge layout. You can choose to have the card layout in a horizontal or veritcal format. Where the photograph, name, title and additional information will be placed on the badge is determined in this area. The company name, logo and possible bar code can be added in the design section to produce the perfect look for your ID card needs.

The database section of the software is where all of the text and photgraph information is imported and stored for making a unique badge for each card holder. The database information is merged with the design elements upon choosing the print command to produce a custom badge for each file in the database. The database stores the information for use to make a card with a different design or to reprint in case of card loss or damage.

Dependable manufacturers, such as Asure ID software, ID Flow and EpiSuite provide dependable solutions for card design and printing. Various versions of each software provide basic and advanced capabilities for card design and printing needs. A id card expert from Safe-Card ID would be happy to provide a free consultation for your id card software needs.

Field Upgradeable Printer by Technician


Legacy models of PVC card printers were “what you see is what you get.” If you wanted a dual sided printer or mag encoder in the printer for future use, the original purchase of the printer needed to encompass every function that would be needed throughout the lifetime of the printer.

More recent models of ID card printers allow organizations to purchase a base model and upgrade the printer as needed. Several printers from various manufacturers allow purchasers to purchase, at a reasonable price, a basic single sided id card printer. If the card making organization wishes to change the card with a module not included on the printer at a future time, modules can be obtained individually and added to the base model printer to increase the fuctionality of the printer and provide an increased capable card for additional requirements.

Some of the modules that can be purchased and installed at your location are:

  • Dual sided flipping module- This module will allow a card that has been printed on the front side to be flipped internally in the printer and refed through the printing module to print on the back side of the card.
  • Magnetic stripe encoder- This module will allow a PVC card with a magnetic stripe to be encoded with information that can be read by an appropriate reader. This function allows for additional information to be stored on a PVC card.
  • Lamination station- The lamination function on a printer provides an overlay, with or without a design, on the card. The overlay protects the surface of the card and produces a level of security. The lamination can have a unique design embeded in it. If someone tries to remove it from the surface of the card, the card will be defaced.

The Fargo HDP5000 printer is an example of a card printer that allows modules to be upgraded in the field.

Please contact us for a free consultation about which printer may be best for your application. Safe-Card ID services the following: Fargo printer, Evolis printer, Magicard printer, CIM printer, Asure Software and ID Flow.

Smart Card Defined

A smart card is a card, usually the size of an id card, contains embedded integrated circuits. The circuts are able to process information and deliver output. The cards are able to store, process, communcate and encrypt data useful for organizational processes. The data transmission is made by contacting the card to an appropriate reader or holding the card close to a contactless interface.

The card technology, developed in the late 1960s has become increasingly common since the mid 1990s. The most common uses are in banking and mass transit. Increased use in personal identification is currently being seen.

The security and functionality of id cards has dramatically increased with the introduction of smart card technology to the identification card market. Combination cards are now commonplace in many organizations. Besides identification, the current id card can be used to obtain physical access control to secured buildings or areas. The cards can also be used to access secure networks or databases.

Popular uses for smart cards are: student identification, employee badging and access, vending, parking, tolls, electronic cash.

Various types of smart cards are available in the market. Additional specific information about the various options will be coming.

If you need additional information about photo id cards or id card systems, contact our experts toll free at 888-485-4696. We would be happy to provide information for your specific requirements.