Entry level id card printer systems use a dye sublimation process to print id cards and badges. The process allows a smooth, continuous-tone image that allows a card with photo quality to easily be printed.
The method of printing uses a dye-based ribbon or cartridge that contains a series of color panels. The panels are repeating and are used in full for each card printed. The color order is yellow, magenta and then cyan. Usually a black color is also included in the panel order and also an overlay. The ribbon is frequently called a YMCKO print ribbon which comes from the names of these color panels.
As the ribbon and card pass together below the printhead in the printer, many thermal elements heat the dyes on the ribbon. The hot dyes vaporize and pass into the surface of the card. To vary the saturation of the color, the heat intensity of the thermal element is adjusted by the printhead allowing the correct amount of color to be released into the card. The heat variance allows one color to blend into the next color allowing an continuous color to appear. This provides the photo quality necessary on today’s badges.