Category Archives: Safe-Card ID Tech Tips

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.

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.

Barcode Printing Inconsistently with a Fargo DTC550

Note that the Fargo DTC550 ID-card printer is out-of-production (since 2011), and is considered obsolete (since 30-Sep-2016). The recommended replacement models are the Fargo DTC4500e and the Fargo DTC5500LMX.

If you are printing with a Fargo DTC550 printer and the printing of bar-codes is inconsistent, you will find that bar-code scanners will not recognize or read the code. To correct problem with the Fargo DTC550 printers, you can follow this tech-tip:

ID-Card Bar-code Image

Light printing at one-end of the black-ink bar-code can be caused by a misalignment in the angle of the print-head. Note in the picture above how the bar-code is light and inconsistent to the left of the card, and then darkens to normal toward the center. A properly adjusted print-head will result in bar-codes being consistent and uniform across the entire surface of the printed card. Note that, after adjusting the angle of the print-head, it may be necessary to raise the Ribbon Peel-Off Bar. That procedure is address separately in our blog entry: Fargo DTC550 Peel-off Bar Adjustment.

Please consult with the technical support area of the vendor or integrator where you purchased your printer to obtain assistance for your specific printer issue prior to making any adjustment. Additional information may also be available directly on the manufacturer’s web-site, and in their technical support pages. Again, as this is a discontinued and obsolete model, on-line documentation and support from Fargo may be limited.

Still need help?

If you need further assistance, or for information current Fargo printers, contact our ID-card experts toll-free at +1 888.485.4696 (US & Canada), or at +1 704.535.5200 elsewhere.

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

Datacard

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.