Tales from the Intake Department: Fargo Uptrade Edition

We recently received a trade-in printer after one of our clients took advantage of Fargo’s excellent UpTrade program. One of the best features of this program is that you can receive a credit for a printer in ANY condition. In this particular case, that included evidence that rats had been inside the printer (at SCID, we’re pretty grateful that rat poop is rarely part of our job description). Luckily for our client, this doesn’t even affect the credit they receive for trading in their old printer.

If you’re looking sideways at your old printer right now, you aren’t alone. Let us help you replace it and get some money back for your current printer, regardless of condition. Generally, however, we recommend keeping your systems rodent-free; they tend to last longer. 😉

For more information and help determining what new printer best suits your needs contact one of our experts at +1 704.535.5200 and browse our online printer catalog.

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).

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 will track the number of prints and cleaning cycles that are performed – but the cleanings must be performed properly to ensure the printer will record the event for subsequent retrieval.

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, and wiping down all card-transport rollers with an IPA-alcohol wipe.
  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 you perform are accurately captured and logged, we recommend using the cleaning wizard, integrated within the Evolis Print Center utility program. It will step you through completing the seven steps listed below:

  1. Ensure that the printer you wish to clean is connected to the normal/host PC; it 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 shows as “Offline”, verify that the printer is firmly plugged in and that it is powered on. If the printer shows a status of “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 already 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 ribbon, 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.

How to Clean a Fargo HDP5000 Retransfer Printer

HID Global has provided a video guide to cleaning the HDP5000 printer. In it, you will see the contents of the cleaning kit as well as how to run the cleaning process. To clean your HDP5000, you will need a 089200 cleaning kit, your computer, and the printer. Before beginning any cleaning process, remove the retransfer film, print film, and card input hopper.

We recommend that you run the basic cleaning process every 1000 cards in order to keep your printer in optimal working condition:

  1. Open the cleaning kit and remove the adhesive backed card.
  2. Remove the paper backing and place the card at the entrance to the printer input feed.
  3. In your PC’s start menu, open “Devices and Printers.”
  4. Right click on the HDP5000 and choose “Printing preferences.”
  5. Within this window, click the “Toolbox” button on the bottom left, then open the “Clean Printer” tab.
  6. Review the instructions provided to make sure that you are prepared to run the cleaning process, then click the “Clean” button at the bottom of the window.

Less frequently (we recommend every 3000 cards), run the alcohol cleaning card:

  1. Open the card and insert it into the input hopper.
  2. Hold the card in place and press the forward button for 10 seconds.
  3. Continue to hold the card and press the back button for 10 seconds.
  4. Feed the card through the printer by pressing the forward button until the card exits the printer.

To clean the printhead (also every 3000 cards, we recommend completing this process with the alcohol cleaning process detailed above):

  1. Disconnect the printer power supply.
  2. Open the printhead cleaning swab.
  3. Open the front panel of the printer.
  4. Remove the ribbon.
  5. Squeeze to saturate the tip of the cleaning swab.
  6. Firmly wipe across the surface of the printhead.

After finishing any cleaning process, replace the ribbon and retransfer film and close the front panel.

To clean the outside of the printer, use the cleaning pad provided in the cleaning kit. Additionally, each new film cartridge comes with a cleaning roller, which is inserted at the input feed. We recommend changing that roller every time you change the film in order to keep your printer at its cleanest.

As always, if you have any questions or need any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our experts at +1 704.535.5200 or +1 888.485.4696.

Incompatibility Issue with Certain Evolis Premium Suite and Firmware Versions

Evolis has found an incompatibility issue with some versions of Evolis Premium Suite and some printer firmware versions.


The printer is detected as “offline” in the supervision mode in the Evolis Print Center. Communication with the printer and printing are not possible.

Printers affected:

  • Evolis Zenius
  • Evolis Primacy
  • Evolis Elypso
  • Evolis KC200 et Evolis KC200B

Evolis Premium Suite versions affected:

  •          (Published 10-July-2015)
  •          (Published 27-Aug-2015)
  •          (Published 25-Sept-2015)
  •          (Published 14-Oct-2015)
  •          (Published 19-Nov-2015)

 Printer firmware versions affected:

  • 1607 (or above)

Beginning with Evolis Premium Suite version “” (published 13-Jan-2016), Evolis has solved this incompatibility error.

Evolis recommends updating Evolis Premium Suite in case the printer is detected as “Offline” in the Evolis Print Center, or in any instance of a client running one of the driver or firmware versions identified above.

Clients should use the “Update Verification Wizard”, available from Evolis Print Center | Tools | Update Verification Wizard, to install the latest version of Evolis Premium Suite, and the latest printer firmware.

Please note that use of the Update Verification Wizard requires access to the internet so the most recent updates can be retrieved from the Evolis web-site. In instances where the printer’s host PC is NOT connected to the internet, please contact Safe-Card ID Services for assistance in retrieving and applying the necessary updates. Our support technicians can be reached at +1 704.535.5200, or toll-free from the US and Canada at +1 888.485.4696.

Levels of Security: 5, Biometric Authentication

Welcome to the fifth, and final, installment in our series on Levels of Security! In this series we are investigating how different ID solutions fit different security needs. As we advise clients on the appropriate badge solution for their organizations, we’ve found that badging needs will generally fall into one of five levels of security. We’ve categorized these by the appropriate solutions: printed PVC cards, barcode & magnetic stripe cards, proximity access devices, contact and contactless RFID cards, and biometric authentication.

LevelsofSecurity5Biometric authentication uses a reader to scan and verify identity using a unique physical attribute. The most common are fingerprints, palm prints, facial scans, and iris scans. New technologies are being introduced that include scans of the shape of the skull and of the interior of the ear canal.

For access control, these methods of identity authentication are most often used in addition to another method, playing on the security adage that the most secure method is “something you have, something you know, and something you are.”  An ID card (of any level) or key serve the purpose of being an exclusive item one has. Biometric markers, which are unique to the person seeking entry, is something they are. Often keypads or password encryption serve as “something you know.” Verifying identity through biometrics prevents cards or other access devices from being either stolen or skimmed and recreated using stolen data, as the person who uses the device is just as important as the device itself.

Biometrics are also used on their own to help protect data and to provide appropriate access. Many mobile devices and laptops now use thumbprints instead of passwords as a more secure and unchanging piece of data that only allows access to the appropriate user. This technology provides the option for targeted, instead of widespread, use of biometric authentication. Some programs require the input of a password and verification of a user’s biometric data before allowing access to secure information. This solution can provide an incremental security increase, rather than outfitting an entire facility for biometric scanning.

Certain industries have also begun using biometric scans to store user data: hospitals such as Carolinas Medical Centers use palm scans to ensure that medical records are accurate and secure. Many school systems have begun using thumbprint scanners to link student lunch accounts, replacing the need for a card (which students are prone to lose) or a code (which students sometimes forget and takes a longer time to enter into the lunch line keypad).

The use of biometrics is still controversial, as many people worry about this secure information being stolen or hacked into, creating another version of the privacy problems that have begun to plague technology companies. Companies address this concern in multiple ways. Many do not store biometric information, rather using a computer algorithm to create a unique identifying number based on the biometric scan, which is then associated with the user. Others keep the biometric information stored on a device rather than in a database–banks that have begun using biometric authentication in mobile apps store the user’s information on the device itself rather than in a bank database of users. The same can be done with smart cards. The chip in a contact or contactless smart card has enough storage space to store the data required to verify the cardholder’s identity, which prevents their information from being stored in a centrally controlled (and thus target-rich) access control database.

Thank you for following along with our series on access control security. As always, feel free to contact one of our experts for more information at +1 704.535.5200.

What is that fine white line on my ID card?

If you inspect an ID card after it has been printed and find a fine, straight white line running the full length of the card, then there is a problem with the printer’s print-head. This can be one of 3 things:

  1. There is a piece of dust, dirt or debris stuck to the print-head;
  2. There is physical damage to the print-head (scratch or nick);
  3. The print-head has had one or more imaging pixels burn-out – usually resulting from an electrical surge or lighting strike.

Only the first can be remedied without print-head replacement, and requires manual cleaning with IPA alcohol wipes or swabs. (Find them HERE!)

But most often, replacement of the print-head is required. Prior to purchasing a replacement print-head, first check with your authorized dealer to see if the print-head is still under a manufacturer’s warranty. Virtually all top printer manufacturers’ warranties offer to replace a damaged print-head for a defined period of time following purchase. Please review your own printer’s warranty for any coverage requirements or restrictions.

For more support, or information about quality ID-card printers, parts and supplies, visit our we b store, or contact one of our ID experts toll-free at +1 888.485.4696 (US & Canada), or +1 704.535.5200 otherwise.

Levels of Security: 4, Contact and Contactless Smart Cards

Welcome to the fourth installment in our series on Levels of Security! In this series we are investigating how different ID solutions fit different security needs. As we advise clients on the appropriate badge solution for their organizations, we’ve found that badging needs will generally fall into one of five levels of security. We’ve categorized these by the appropriate solutions: printed PVC cards, barcode & magnetic stripe cards, proximity access devices, contact and contactless RFID cards, and biometric authentication.

LevelsofSecurity4Contactless smart cards use high-frequency radio frequency identification, or RFID, and afford stepped-up security (vs. standard proximity cards) by employing a memory chip that can store more information. Using a larger capacity chip gives users the ability to store more data and encrypt that data, making it much more difficult to compromise. The technologies employed allow the chip data to be read from up to 30-feet, though typical implementations will use readers that are limited to 1-foot, or less. Like standard proximity devices, RFID credentials do not need to be in a direct “line of sight” from the reader. As a result, these devices can be read through clothing, and even packaging (such as in a box, pocket, wallet or purse).

Common applications for contactless RFID devices include:

  • use of RFID-enabled ID cards or fobs for access-control through secured doors or vehicle access to controlled parking areas;
  • storage of computer-network access credentials and authorization levels;
  • access to pharmaceutical cabinets and dispensaries;
  • medical and healthcare applications vary from the tracking of inventory and patients, to confirming correct medication for patients and out-of-bed and fall detection;
  • tracking of retail goods for stock/inventory control, and anti-theft systems;
  • contact-less payment systems, linked to your credit-card or bank-account (i.e. – Apple Pay(TM) )

If you are considering use of RFID credentials, be aware that there are privacy concerns regarding data stored on such devices. Because these devices can be scanned from an extended range, they can be read without the holder’s knowledge. This opens the door (pardon the pun!) for duplication and for skimming of information that is intended to remain private. Some holders of RFID technology choose to wrap their cards in aluminum foil or use RFID blocking wallets to prevent reading until use.

Contact-type smart cards carry a chip with exposed contacts, which must be inserted into a reader for any data to be read or retrieved from the memory chip. These are slightly more secure in that the cards cannot be skimmed in the manner described above. These devices can be used for access control applications, but are currently used more frequently for payment applications. In fact, if you live in the United States and have bank-issued credit- or ATM-cards, you most likely now have a card of this type today, as all US institutions were required to adopt these more-secure cards within the past year. For our European friends, you know you’ve been using these cards for years.

Check back soon for our post regarding the highest level of access control security: biometric authentication.

Levels of Security Series: 3, Proximity Devices

Welcome to the third installment in our series on Levels of Security! In this series we will be investigating how different ID solutions fit different security needs. As we advise clients on the appropriate badge solution for their organizations, we’ve found that badging needs fall into five levels of security. We’ve categorized these by the appropriate solutions: printed PVC cards, barcode & magnetic stripe cards, proximity access devices, contact and contactless RFID cards, and bio-metric authentication.

LevelsofSecurity3Clients whose facilities need a moderate degree of security may find their best solution in proximity access devices. These items are available as cards, key-fobs, or stick-on (adhesive) disks, which are then issued to individual users. Each device includes a tiny computer-chip that houses a small amount of data that is custom programmed for a facility. These credentials allow an installed access control system to determine if the device holder has the required permission to access a facility.

Prior to the introduction of access-control systems, organizations would provide key copies to their employees, or have full-time receptionists, or employee security guards as ways to manage access. The benefits of using proximity devices are many:

  • Unlike keys, access control systems can operate on schedules. For example, a given key-card or fob can be coded to allow access to buildings only Monday thru Friday from 8:00am to 6:00pm. Other devices and individuals can have their own unique schedules.
  • Also unlike keys, with proximity devices, you can immediately and remotely “turn off” or modify access areas and times. This means that an individual who should no longer have access to one or more controlled entryways, or on certain days or times, can have that change affected quickly, and without affecting any other device holder. In the “old days”, if you lost an employee, or if an employee lost a copy of a building key, the locks were changed and new keys were issued – at considerable expense!
  • If the proximity access device is in card form, it can double as the employee’s photo ID  using any of our ID-card printing solutions. Doing so provides both a visual identity check, and a physical access-control check, further enhancing facility and organizational security.
  • Proximity access device readers can be augmented with optional modules, such as numeric key-pads, requiring input of a second-form of authentication. These are often used on exterior doors to prevent unauthorized entry should someone find a lost credential.

As technology has developed, more secure options have been introduced which can store more data and are more difficult to be scanned and copied. We will explore those options in coming installments. But, for organizations with a need for flexible security controls, while maintaining relatively low or moderate costs, the access-control systems and proximity devices are the perfect solution.


Levels of Security Series: 2, Barcodes and Magnetic Stripe Cards

Welcome to the second installment in our series on Levels of Security! In this series we are investigating how different ID solutions fit different security needs. As we advise clients on the appropriate badge solutions for their organizations, we find that ID card and badging needs fall into five levels of security. We’ve categorized these by the appropriate solutions: printed PVC cards, bar-code & magnetic stripe cards, proximity devices, contact and contactless RFID cards, and biometric authentication.

LevelsofSecurity2Facilities in need of a low-moderate security solution may find that ID cards printed with a bar-code, or with an encoded magnetic stripe, fill their needs. Like the previous level’s solution, these options are still relatively easy to implement and low cost. Facilities that do not require this level of security may want to refer to the first post in this series: Printed PVC Cards.

Often our clients have other needs that can be met by making enhancements to their regular ID cards, availing themselves of some basic technologies that are commonly in use and available:

  • Restaurants and factories, for example, often use time-clock applications, where employees clock-in and clock-out by “swiping” a mag-stripe or bar-code through a specialized reader, that is connected to their payroll system.
  • Schools, colleges and universities often allow students to obtain meals in on-site facilities, access a library, or make modest purchases from a book store by presenting or swiping an authorized card.
  • Medical service providers’ EHR (electronic health-record) systems often require dual-factor authentication to log in, so equipping the applications’ host PC’s with a bar-code or mag-stripe reader and appropriate access control software, the employee’s ID card can also double as the required second-factor authority.

The bar-code category includes traditional “1D” bar-codes, “2D” bar-codes, or QR codes. These codes are applied to cards by selecting a font that transforms a numeric or alphanumeric code into a lined or pixelated image. These images can be scanned by specialized readers or by smartphone applications that can call up the associated information from a database or business application. This solution requires a database of some kind that associates the unique graphical code with the pertinent information. A significant limitation of this solution is that these codes can be photocopied, resulting in a unauthorized access if secondary security measures are not put in place.

Magnetic Card #2The magnetic stripe card can store a very limited amount of information, such as an account, employee, or student ID number, dollar amount (or other financial balance), & other encoded information. These cards were an early version of modern smart cards, but the age of the technology has also made it less secure than other currently available options. These cards involve technology that make them a slightly higher cost option than “plain” PVC cards, and also require additional expenditures for mag-stripe or bar-code readers and, of course, a compute program to interpret and act on the stored data.

For small organizations or those who do not want to maintain cards themselves, our service bureau is able to print cards on demand for a small fee. Customers who print larger quantities of cards or who would like to be able to issue cards immediately may find that an investment in a printer and supplies is beneficial.

Adding bar-codes or mag-stripes to ID badges can be an excellent solution for organizations with modest incremental functional needs, and have only low to moderate security requirements. Both cards provide a means by which customers or patrons can recognize the authority of the person wearing the card and can provide a sense of visual cohesion in any work, school, or healthcare environment.