Category Archives: Quick Tips for Printers

What Does Card Printer Firmware Do?

Every ID card printer contains an embedded computer program called firmware. This program is the “brain” of the printer, and is responsible for receiving output (“print jobs”) from your computer, and then translating that information into the necessary commands and functions required for your printer to produce high-quality ID cards.

Printer firmware programs are routinely updated by manufacturers to improve print-speed and quality, to expand capabilities, and to correct for software bugs or printer faults. To obtain optimal performance from any ID card printer, we recommend that our clients always use the latest firmware version available. We find that printer errors or faults often can be resolved by ensuring the firmware is up-to-date, and that printers run more consistently and with fewer issues when this practice is maintained.

Updating the printer’s firmware is easy. First, go to the technical support section of your printer manufacturer’s website. Links are provided below:

motherboardCIM Printers
Datacard Printers
Evolis Printers
Fargo Printers
IDP/Smart Printers
Magicard Printers
Zebra Printers

On these linked pages, you will be able to locate and download the correct and latest firmware for your specific printer model. Each manufacturer also helpfully includes basic procedures for the installation of the firmware on their specific printers. Of course, if you should have any questions or doubts, our expert technicians are always glad to assist you!

As a reminder, we always recommend that you update to the newest available printer driver when you update your firmware. To learn more about printer drivers, click here.

For specific card system information, contact our ID card experts toll free at +1 888.485.4696.

Tips for Printing Adhesive Backed Cards

You have decided to use adhesive backed cards for your identification card printing. This will allow you to combine your access card with your photo identification card so that employees will have one less thing to keep track of.

When this decision is made, it is beneficial, but often there is printing issues with either the paper backed adhesive card or the mylaor backed adhesive card. Card jams, the quality of printing, and multiple card feeding are just some of the issues we receive calls from our customers about.

Following are some simple tips to keep in mind as you begin printing with these cards:

1. Double check your adhesive cards to ensure that they look good. Check to make sure that adhesive is not leaking out of the edge of the card causing problems in the printer and also cards that stick together.
2. Ensure your printer settings are correct and that your printer is capable of printing your selected card stock. You may need to reset the thickness guage or set the printer for CR-79 cards.
3. Ensure your printer is extremely clean. Check the printer ribbons and transport rollers regularly. Blow the printer out occasionally to remove any dust left in the printer mechanisms from paper backed cardstock.

To view and find out more information about the cardstock options, visit these links:

Paper backed 10 ml adhesive cards here.
Mylar backed 10 ml adhesive cards here.

Tips for Purchasing Your First ID Card Printer

You have been placed in charge of researching ID card printer systems for your organization. They have asked to you locate and recommend the best printer system for your business needs. Following are some items that your ID card integrator will ask to help you select the best printer system for your needs.

Current Card Needs

Cards are used for many different functions in different environments. Some businesses may need the card for a simple identification device. Other organizations have multiple needs that the card must meet causing additional wear on the PVC card. Payroll, access control, and debit functions are a few of the many multiple uses for ID cards that are used freqently throughout each work day.

Future Card Needs

Additional enhancements to future card printing may be planned as well. Will you be needing proximitiy cards in the near future? Will security features be needed with an upcoming expansion of the business? Answers to questions like these help an ID card integrator provide the best photo ID card system recommendation for current and future business projections.

Card Surface Printing Needs

It is important to know printing is needed on the back of the card. Printing both a front and back would require a dual sided printer. Providing additional printing area, cards with back side printing often print bar codes or company contact information and mission statements on the card.

Card Element Needs

Will there be logos and special symbols placed on the card? Are these items accessable in a electronic format such as a .jpg? Will there be a photo of the card holder printed on the card? A camera that interfaces with the card printer system is often desired. The correct ID card software for your volume requirements and network needs is an important part of the system evaluation. A software that imports and maintains card information in a database is often an important element in medium to large size organizations. Reprinting capabilties, reporting options and network connections are possible with some software versions.

Although it is easy to select and purchase a prepackaged turn key system, it is important to speak with an ID card expert from an integrator for a free consultation and recommendation for your specific needs. The consultation will provide you with different options and recommendations that fit your current and future applications. Our ID card experts can be reached at 888-485-4696.

ID Card Printers – When the Print Ribbon Breaks


It is frustrating to have gotten so far. You have designed the ID card layout and gotten all the approvals. You have obtained all of the custom information about each card, double checked the database of information and gotten the information imported into the ID card software. Pictures for each employee have been matched up with the data and you are ready to go with the print job. Then it happens, the print ribbon in the ID card printer breaks causing the print job to stop. What needs to be done now?

Printer ribbon breakage is a common and frustrating problem wihen trying to complete a badge printing job. It is important to remember that just because a printer ribbon breaks or gets jammed inside of the printer, it is not time to throw the ribbon away. Do not start with a new print ribbon until the old one is used up and ready for the trash. The ribbon that breaks can be rolled forward and cards can continue to be printed with the ribbon until it is used up.

Important tips to keep your printer ribbon from breaking are the following:

1. Keep your printer clean. All printers have cleaning kits designed especially for them. The kit contains cleaning accessories that assist in preventing card feed errors, keeps cards from slipping on dirty rollers and keeps the print head free of dirt that can also cause costly printhead repair.

2. If you have changed the printer driver settings recently, a broken ribbon will remind you to restore the printer driver setting to their original default settings.

3. Some printer models have ribbon sensor collaborations that can be performed through the printer driver. Check with your owners manual to see if this applies to your brand and printer model. If so, take the necessary steps to adjust as directed in your operators guide.

4. Sometimes the card design will cause a print ribbon to break. A card designed with color and information completely to the edge or over the edge of the card can cause ribbon breakage. This breakage can also occur with card designs that are very dark in color.

5. Remember that you can only print on a PVC card one time in full color. If you try to reprint over a card for the second time (on the same side of the card), you will not have clear printing results. This action can also cause a print ribbon to stick to the card as it passes through and break the ribbon.

Safe-Card ID offers plastic ID card printers and ID card software. Toll free technicial help is available with every system purchased from Safe-Card ID.

Bar Codes Not Working when Scanned

Question to our Technical Support Staff:

My bar code will not read when placing the card on/in the scanner.

Techncial Response:

One of the reasons that the bar code will not read may be that the printer driver settings are incorrect in the id card printer that is printing on the PVC card. The id card printer may be set to print a process called a “composite card.” This process is incorrect as the bar code needs to be printed by a true resin black process.

If you think your id card printer is not printing in true resin black. Follow the procedures below to check and/or correct your printer settings.

    1. Pull out the print ribbon from your printer after you have printed a card containing a bar code.
    2. Look at each panel of the ribbon that has printed the card containing the bar code.
    3. If you see places in each of the various ribbon panels that look like the bar code, the printer has built the bar code by using color panels. This is the composite printing and the bar code will not work correctly in most instances.
    4. To change the printer settings to require the bar code print in resin black, go to the K-resin tab in your print driver.
    5. Set the tab to print K-resin black for the bar code.
    6. Apply the settings.
    7. Rerun the print job. This should solve the bar code problem.

For specific information about Fargo printers and the capabilities of current ID card printer systems, contact our ID card experts toll free at 888-485-4696.

How to Clean your Photo ID Card Printer

cleaning kit

It is important to clean your id card printer for optimal performance. Although printers do not require an extreme amount of maintenance, the printers do need to reside in a clean area and have clean components for best printing results.

An easy way to maintain the printer is to obtain and use a cleaning kit that is manufactured for your specific printer. The correct cleaning kit contains cleaning swabs or pens, cleaning cards and cleaning pads that will not harm the components of the id card printer. By following the cleaning recommendations in the printer’s owner manual, the life of the printer will be extended and the manufacturer’s warranty requirements will be met.

Some printers will provide a prompt to clean the printer. Other printers have a manufacturer recommendation to clean the printer at each ribbon change. Follow the directions in the manufacturer’s printer manual to correctly clean the printer.

Find the manufacturer recommended id card printer cleaning kit in our shopping cart.

Printing Black Text on the Back of an ID Card

custom id

Many id card printers provided to groups and organizations are single sided id card printers. These printers are able to print single color or full color printing on one side of the card. Things go along smoothly for a while, and then someone from the organization decides that it would be nice to be able to make use of the back of the card since it is blank. Examples of things printed on the back of the card are company contact information, mission statements, organizational reference information or directions as to what to do if the card is lost and needs to be returned to the owner.

Many organizations use a simple process to print the needed information on the back of the card. In one of our earlier posts about dual sided id cards with a single sided printer, we explained that you could print the front side of the card and then flip the card over and print the back side of the card. Although that process will work, there is a smoother process if the information on the back of the card is always identical on each card. Here are the steps.

1. Purchase a black ribbon to use solely on the back of the card.
2. Design the card back in your id card software design program.
3. Install the black ribbon into the printer and verify the printer and software program are set up to print with a black ribbon.
4. Print the back side of the card for the number of badges needed.
5. Turn the printed cards and reposition them in the printer so that the front of the card can be printed.
6. Swap out the black print ribbon for a full color ribbon.
7. Print front side of the card with your design software and printer.

After checking the output hopper, you should find that the card has print on both the front and back side of the card which has been completed by your single side id card printer.

For additional hints and tips for your id card printing project, contact our experts toll free at 888-485-4696. We specialize in Fargo printers, Evolis printers, Magicard printers and CIM printers.

Connecting a Printer to the PC via a USB Cable

Fargo DTC400e

When installing a new id card printer, one of the first steps is to install the printer driver. The driver is located on the CD that is included with the printer.

When the driver is installed, an instructional window will advise you to connect the id card printer to the PC. To do this, locate the USB port on the printer. Connect the printer to the PC with the printer cable. Many printer models include a printer cable with the purchase of a printer.

To locate the USB port on the id card printer, look at the back of the printer. Some manufacturers place a piece of protective white tape over the USB port. The tape states that the ID card printer driver needs to be installed in the computer prior to plugging the printer cable into the port.

Once the printer and computer are connected correctly by the printer cable, communication can occur allowing the printer to begin printing the id badges needed.

For additional information about custom id cards and photo id card systems, contact our id card experts at 888-485-4696.

Smart Card Color Distoration

Proxcard II

When using smart cards in an ID card printer, there are times that the colors printed on the card do not turn out as expected. In a standard 30 ml card print, the colors are bright, crisp and consistent across the surface of the card. Sometimes smart cards show a variance in color leaving the printer operator wondering what happened during the printing of the card.

The occurrence is common. The variance produced is most likely due to microchip embedded in the card. The chip produces a bump in the card surface that prevents the color from printing evenly across the card surface. The composition of the microchip and accompanying antennas may affect the heat absorption as the printhead passes over the card during printing. The difference in heat may cause the resulting color difference.

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.

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.