Differences and Options with ID Card Printers

There are many different card printer manufacturers that provide various printer product lines. The leaders in the market are Entrust-Datacard, Evolis, Fargo, Magicard, Matica and Zebra.

Single-Side Printers

These printers will print only the front side of the card. All card manufacturers produce single-side card printers.

Dual-Side Printers

These dual-side card printers can print both single-sided cards and dual-sided cards. All card manufacturers offer printers that print dual-sided cards.

Lamination Station Printers

These ID card printers include an integrated card laminator which can apply a secure hologram or a clear, protective overlaminate sheet as the final step in the printing process. Overlaminates are often used for increased durability of the cards, or as an added security measure.

Magnetic Stripe Encoding

These printers will print the card with full graphics and also encode a magnetic stripe on the back side of the card. This full process is completed in one pass through the ID card printer.

Smart Card Encoding

Smart cards contain a memory chip that can store limited amounts of data. This data can include encoded proximity access credentials, biometric data, or other user-defined elements. Smart cards can be printed on, and the embedded chip is encoded with information in a single pass, just as with the magnetic stripe encoders.

Network Printers

These printers can be connected to a network via integrated Ethernet ports, allowing them to be accessed by multiple networked work-stations.

Direct-to-card vs. Re-Transfer Printers

Most printers sold are "direct-to-card", or "DTC" printers. These printers create card images by sequentially applying a series of colors to a blank card surface, with one printing pass made for each of the yellow, magenta, cyan & black ribbon-ink panels, and then followed by a clear varnish overlay. DTC printers are capable of printing very near to the edge of a card. With re-transfer printers, the image of the card is first applied to a clear "transfer film" within the printer. The complete image is then applied to the card surface in one pass. This method allows for a "full bleed" of your card design when applied to the card surface, with the image covering (up to) the entire card surface. For a more detailed explanation, please visit our blog.

For an individual consultation with one of our ID experts, so as to determine the best printer option for you, please contact us at +1 888.485.4696 (US & Canada), +1 704.535.5200 (elsewhere), or request a quote by email.