There are two basic types of printer ribbons – thermal transfer and dye sublimation. The ribbons are used to print directly on an ID card or by transfering the print onto a clear plastic film that adheres to the card by ID card printer methodology.
Thermal Transfer Print Ribbons
Thermal printing is when the ink is directly applied to the card surface. The printhead which provides the transfer mechanism, consists of tiny sources of heat that are directed by the id card software instructions to heat to just the right temperature at each individual spot to recreate a digital image desired by the card operator. As the ribbon passes under the printhead, the printhead completes its image by heating specific spots in a print panel to provide a clear result. Thermal printing is known for it’s almost immediate drying on the card and is not able to be smudged. The printing is resistant to fading by sunlight.
Full color id cards are made by the passing of a number of ribbon panels passed over the card. In each panel is a color that is deposited as needed onto the card. The various colors are placed in dots on the correct places on the card. When viewed, the proximity of the colored dots are viewed as a blended shade making the correct appearance on the card.
Monochrome printing is also popular with id card printing. Clear, strong color is provided by these printers in a single color. Bar cards are popular uses for monochrome printers. Since a single panel is used for monochrome printing, the printing speed is much higher than a full color print.
Dye Sublimation Ribbons
Dye sublimation ribbons are used for a rich, vibrant badge. The printing is finely tuned and occurs by heating the dye quickly which allows it to penetrate porous surfaces. In this printing the printer releases ink into a dye-receptive transfer (HDP) film. The film is then fused into the surface of the PVC card it is applied to. The card information is printed on the underside of the HDP film. The information is trapped between the card surface and the film barrier that provides security and protection to the printed material.
Half Panel Ribbons
These ribbons are used when full color printing is not needed on the entire surface of the card. The colored panels of YMC are large enough to print a portion of the card. The remaining black and overcoat panels are full so that black printing and protection can be provided to the entire surface of the card.
These ribbons are available in many single colors. Red, blue, green and black are some of the standard colors available with most id card printer models. These ribbons print only one color on the badge and save cost if full color is not needed.
Scratch Off Ribbons
These ribbons provide a seperate scratch off panel that passes over the card after the regular imprinting is complete. This ribbon allows a section of the card to be temporarily covered for card uses such as pin number or code concealation needs.