Category Archives: Quick Tips for Printers

Clean Your Evolis Primacy using the Print Center

To maintain warranty coverage for your original or replacement Evolis Primacy print-head, Evolis requires that certain printer cleaning procedures and intervals be observed. The printer automatically tracks the number of prints and cleaning cycles that are performed – but the cleanings must be performed properly in order to be logged for subsequent retrieval by technicians, one of ours or one of Evolis’s.

There are two types of cleanings that must be performed at regular intervals:

  1. A “regular” cleaning every 1,000 cards. This consists of running a “sticky” cleaning card through the printer, followed by manual cleaning of the print-head with a special foam-tipped cleaning swab that is saturated with IPA alcohol.
  2. An “advanced” cleaning every 5,000 cards. This consists of running a special IPA alcohol soaked “T-card” through the printer, followed by performance of the “regular” cleaning, as above.

While not required, we recommend removing and cleaning the built-in cleaning roller each time that the ribbon is changed.


To ensure that the cleaning cycles performed are accurately captured and logged, we recommend using the cleaning wizard integrated within the Evolis Print Center utility program and completing the seven steps listed below:

  1. Ensure that the printer you wish to clean is connected to the normal/host PC, is powered on and “ready”, and that there are no print-jobs in the printer queue (via Windows’s “Devices and Printers” menu).
  1. Open the Evolis Print Center utility program – you should see a status window similar to this:  EV_Prt_Ctr_Std_ViewTroubleshooting: If the printer is “Offline”, verify that the printer is firmly plugged in and that it is powered on. If the printer is “Not Supervised by Evolis Print Center”, right-click on the Printer Name (i.e., “Evolis Primacy”), and select “Enable Supervision”.
  1. When the printer status is “Ready”, right-click on the Printer Name (“Evolis Primacy”), then select “Properties”. This will launch a secondary window that looks like the one below (note that we have selected the “Cleaning” view in the left menu bar):EV_Prt_Ctr_Cleaning_View**Note: this view provides information regarding the number of cards remaining to be printed before the next required cleaning, the overall card-counter at the time of the last cleaning, and the number of regular cleanings and of advanced cleanings performed since new. It will also display whether the Warranty Cycle has been properly observed and remains in force.
  1. To begin a cleaning cycle, click on “Proceed with Cleaning” in the left menu bar. The wizard will then present the cleaning options:EV_Prt_Ctr_Cleaning_Wiz1
  1. Click the “Start cleaning” button in the appropriate section. This will launch the cleaning wizard, as in the example of the regular cleaning process (below).EV_Prt_Ctr_Cleaning_Wiz2
  1. Proceed through the cleaning process by following the instructions on each page of the Cleaning Wizard then clicking the “Next >” button to continue on to the next step. Once you have proceeded through all of the cleaning steps, you will be presented with the “Finish” screen shown below. Clicking the “Finish” button will return you to the main properties menu shown in Step 3.
    **Note: If you have executed the Advanced Cleaning process, return to the “Proceed with Cleaning” section shown in Step 4 to follow the advanced cleaning with the Regular Cleaning process.
  2. To be sure that the cleaning DID register properly, return to the “cleaning” menu screen shown in Step 3 to verify that the value in “Next cleaning in:” has been reset to 1000.

When all steps have been performed, ensure that you reload the printer with cards and ribbons, and then reset the card thickness gauge to the appropriate setting for your cards (we recommend a setting slightly above the actual card thickness so, for a 30 mil card, a setting of 32-33 is most appropriate).

As always, if you should have any questions or problems, our technicians are available at no cost to our clients by phone at +1 704.535.5200.

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.

How to Clear a Card Jam in a Zebra ZXP Series 7 Printer

Card jams are an occasional problem with any PVC card printer. Zebra has made it easy to clear a jam from their ZXP Series 7 printers. Watch the short video below for a quick guide on the process.

As always, if you have trouble clearing a jam or any other concerns with your ZXP Series 7 or any other card printer, call our experts at +1 888.485.4696.

The 4 Items Your Business Needs to Get Started with Printed Cards

Plastic PVC cards are a great business asset in many industries. Identification cards add security or a professional touch to your business. These cards can be as simple as a name tag or include complex features such as holograms or smart chips. Gift or loyalty cards help to create and maintain brand recognition for customers. No matter what your goal is for your cards, you need to start with 4 basic supplies:


Zebra ZXP Series 3 QuikCard Bundle

  1. A printer. Available from multiple manufacturers, card printers meet any need, from a few cards a month to hundreds of cards a day.
  2. Ribbon. Ribbons layer colors over a blank card to create the image and text you have designed. They come in a variety of individual or full color options.
  3. Cards. PVC cards are available in myriad colors and security options including smart chip, magnetic stripe, or thin adhesive-backed stickers that can stick to thicker proximity cards.
  4. Design software. There are multiple levels of software from many developers to meet every need. The most advanced software allows administrators to link to databases and encode smart cards.

There are combinations of these four items to meet every budget and need and it is an investment that can pay off dividends for one’s business.

At Safe-Card ID Services we strive to help our customers find the perfect combination of supplies. We have pre-configured bundles that include all of the above items in popular combinations. Our experts also specialize in creating custom bundles to meet the specific needs of our clients. For those with smaller scale needs or who do not want to invest in a printer system, our service bureau also offers custom cards printed to order.

Let us answer your questions about getting started in card printing. Our experts are always available for a free consultation at +1 888.485.4696. We look forward to hearing from you!

Handling PVC Cards for Best Results

To get the best results from your PVC cards, be careful in handling unused stock. If handled improperly, the surface of the card picks up oils from the fingers of the user. The ribbon used by card printers does not adhere to an oily surface, resulting in poor quality photo IDs.

For best results, we recommend careful handling of only the edges of the cards or wearing gloves. Our service bureau team has found that it is relatively simple to place a small stack of cards into an input hopper while keeping their fingers off the cards’ surfaces, as demonstrated below.

CardHandling1However, when we handle a number of individual cards, we often use medical style gloves to protect the surface of the card.


For more tips visit our TechTips Blog or call one of our experts at +1 888.485.4696.

Evolis Primacy – How to Do a Routine Printer Cleaning

The following video provided by Evolis provides manufacturer instructions illustrating how to complete a routine printer cleaning with a cleaning card.

1. Open the printer lid on the top of the printer.
2. Remove the print ribbon.
3. Close the lid.
4. Open the card input hopper.
5. Remove all blank cards.
6. Shift the card thickness gauge to “MAX”.
7. Remove the adhesive strip from the cleaning card.
8. Place the cleaning card in the input hopper and leave the hopper door open.
9. Press the power button twice.
10. The card will be automatically cycled through the printer and ejected into the output hopper.
11. Remove the card from the output hopper and close the card output hopper.
12. Open the printer lid.
13. Replace the print ribbon and close the lid.
14. Return unused cards to the input hopper.
15. Return the thickness gauge to its correct setting and close the hopper door.

For information about the Evolis Primacy printer, please contact our ID card experts at +1 888.485.4696.

The Basics of Determining Which Type of Ribbon You Need

Let’s face it. There are a lot of options when you’re looking at printer ribbons. Sure, it can be pretty straightforward to determine whether you need a black monochrome (K) ribbon or a full color (YMCK) ribbon, but then you run into the Os, Ts, Fs, and other permutations of the color spectrum. This guide should help you sort through these options.

This is a great place for me to remind you, however, that you are always welcome to call us (toll-free: 1-888-485-4696) and have an expert walk you through this choice. Our first priority is getting you the equipment you need. For those of you who (like me) are a little averse to calling and would rather read, this (lengthy) one is for you:

Step 1: Determine what kind of printer you have. This is crucial to making sure that you get the right ribbon. These are even among the first questions we’ll ask you if you call!

a) The brand of the printer will determine the ribbon brand you need.
b) The model (i.e., Evolis Primacy) will determine what kinds of ribbons you can use.
c) If you have a single-side or dual-side printer, you will need ribbons that are compatible.
d) If you have a laminating module (if you have a Fargo DTC4500e with a laminating module you need different ribbons than if you have a Fargo DTC4500e without one!)

Step 2: Find out if you need ribbons that will print in multiple colors or just one. We have monochrome (one color!) ribbons available in a variety of different colors, so if you need something that you don’t see on our website, just call and we’ll help you out.

It may be tempting to order a full color ribbon “just in case” since black and other individual colors are included, but if all you need is a monochrome black ribbon, you’ll save yourself a lot of money if you just order the K or KO ribbon. In addition, if you are printing barcodes or QR codes, scanners will not consistently read black print that is derived from a combination of yellow, magenta, and cyan (YMC).



Black Monochrome with Overlay Labeling


One more piece to consider in this step: on what color cards will you be printing? If you have bold or dark color cards, regular color or black ink will not be accurately rendered, so you want to look at a metallic monochrome such as silver, gold, or white-resin, to make sure that your content is clearly visible.

Step 3: Dual or single side printer. If you have a single side printer, you should steer clear of anything with a repeated color (YMCKK, YMCKOK, and YMCKTK are the most common). This extra K (black monochrome) indicates that your ribbon can print color on the front and monochrome black on the back in a single pass, which makes it perfect for most dual side printing. In our product descriptions, we’ve clearly indicated which ribbons can only be used for dual side printing to help you avoid this.



Dual Side Full Color/Black Ribbon with Overlay Labeling


Luckily, for many folks, a YMCK(O/T) ribbon will work. While it looks like this will only print on one side, your dual side printer will simply use a second set of panels to print on both sides. What’s important to remember about this is that your dual side printer will only get half as many cards as the number of images indicated on the product page (because each side of the card counts as a different image).

**Reminder: If you’re printing a barcode on the back, make sure to set your print driver to only use the K panel when rendering full-black images on the back—barcode readers won’t consistently read the “composite” black mentioned above.**



Full Color Ribbon with Overlay Labeling


Step 4: Determine what method your printer uses to get the color onto the card. There are two common ones.

a) Direct-to-Card printing: This method transfers ink directly to the card. If you print in color, and don’t have a separate UV overlay that you’re applying, make sure to purchase a ribbon that includes an overlay (O) panel. The UV resistant overlays and varnishes protect the color images on your cards, which will otherwise fade in as little as a few days when exposed to direct sun.
b) Transfer printing: This method prints a reverse image on the underside of the film then fuses the film to the card, negating the need for the overlay panel included on many ribbons (the transfer-film IS the overlay too).
c) I know! I said two! But lamination isn’t a method of getting ink onto your cards. It does, however, provide protection for your image and also keeps you from needing a separate overlay panel on your ribbon cartridge. So if, for example, you’re using an HDP5000 with the laminating option, you can use just the YMCK ribbon, with the lamination layer serving as your UV shield.

This covers the basics of what you need to know to order ribbons for your card printers. If your business has more advanced needs (such as holographic film or fluorescing ribbons), please call to speak to one of our experts at 1-888-485-4696. If you have follow-up questions or would just like more information about a specific option, drop a note in the comments.

When to punch your PVC card

We often are asked by clients that are responsible for producing ID cards for their organizations if they should punch required slots in their plastic ID cards prior to printing, or if the printing should be done first.

We recommended that ID cards NOT be punched prior to printing. The act of punching a card-slot leaves a very small raised edge on one side of the card. Though practically invisible, this raised edge can almost always be felt with your finger-tip – making for a potential problem. If the raised edge should come in contact with your device’s print-head during the printing process, the print-head itself can be damaged. If the raised edge is significant enough, it could happen after just a few prints. But even a small and subtle raised-edge can cause problems over time, as card after card contacting the print-head can cause abrasions and scratches. And, as replacement print-heads for most ID card printers cost $500 or more, we strongly recommend that card printing occurs prior to punching the cards’ slots.

Similarly, we also recommend against the use of pre-punched cards. Although the large industrial presses and punches used by card manufacturers are significantly better than light-office versions, they still can leave the same raised edges that can cause irreversible damage. If you MUST use pre-punched or die-cut cards, then we further recommend considering a re-transfer style printer (like the Evolis Avansia or Fargo HDP5000). Due to the method of printing, re-transfer printers are much more tolerant of pre-cut cards than are DTC (direct-to card) printers.

For specific questions regarding your ID card printer system, contact our expert staff toll-free at +1 888.485.4696.

ID Cameras – Benefits of TWAIN Drivers

HD Image Cam Pro

Wonder what all the fuss is when you speak with our ID experts and they advise you to make sure your camera has a TWAIN driver for the best results in making photo id badges? Without a TWAIN driver, your process of taking photos for your ID cards goes something like this:

1. Have your employee pose for a picture and take it.
2. Save the photo taken to a folder on your computer.
3. Open the picture in a photo editing software.
4. Resave the picture.
5. Open the ID card software and import the selected photo into the photo box from the saved folder.

By using a camera with a workable TWAIN driver, most of the above steps are elminated. The picture can be taken in combination by the computer keyboard and the ID card software. The snapped picture will immediately show up in your software eliminating the steps of creating folders and saving pictures for future use.

Our current popular mid range camera is the HD Image Cam Pro. This camera has a TWAIN driver and has been tested with most popular badge design software on the market. Our ID card experts would love to assist you with more information about this camera solution.

What Comes with An ID Card Printer?

When a customer purchaes an ID card printer from us, they often ask what comes with the printer.

When purchasing a standard printer from our shopping cart, the printer does not normally include a printer ribbon or PVC cards. This printer purchase typically includes the printer, necessary cables and driver disks to set up the machine. Printer only purchases are often made by organizations that have already set up their ID card printing processes and are in need of expanding or upgrading their current printer.

If you are purchasing an id card printer system from our systems online store or if you work with our ID card experts and have a custom quote built to meet your specifications, you may have printer ribbons, PVC cards, ID card software and more included in your package. Bundled systems built by the manufacturer or by Safe-Card ID technical teams include a discounted package of a printer, ribbon(s), blank PVC cards, software and possibly a camera. These systems are often perfect for getting started with your identification card printing.

If you are purchasing a printer or printer system for the first time, we encourage you to contact our friendly ID card experts by live chat or phone. They have assisted many customers with the products right for their application and can provide expert advice free with your system. If you are not ready to contact them, but prefer to learn on your own, browse our online store for specific details, videos, and brochures about our systems and printers.

The Safe-Card team is happy to help you when you are ready. Dont’ wait long. Contact us toll free at 888-485-4696.