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HID Access Cards – How They Work

An HID proximity card is a card with embedded information encoded inside. The information transmitted can allow door activation or login to a networked computer system. With access card systems, reports can be generated to provide specific details as to which card holders have attempted access and which cards have activated entry.

The HID Prox card holds information embedded inside and has capability within an access system to activate a door or log someone into a computer network. The proximity card does not have the capability of accessing an area within itself. The card within the framework of an access system will provide security and appropriate access to a controlled area.

The card is combined with a card reader, access control panel and a computer to form a complete access system. In combination, the system is able to function as a security officer that allows card holders into specific secured doors at certain dates and times.

The card holds an embedded binary code, which is a sequence of ones and zeros. These are used in a specific sequence to identify a card holder. The coding format is transmitted from the card reader to the control panel for deciphering. The card may or may not have additional code embedded in the card. The access control panel normally does not use extra coding, but reviews the formatted code utilized in the system.

When the controller receives the data, it begins the steps to verify if the cardholder has access to the building. The length of the data string is analyzed prior to proceeding. If the format is different, the control panel will not be able to process the request.
Once the format is verified, the controller can then check the facility code and site code for a match. If this is true, the controller moves ahead to match the card number. A matching card number will move the analysis forward. The information is then reviewed to see if the card holder has authorization to access during the date and time the access request is made. If so, the lock relay will activate and the door or network will unlock for access.

If the HID prox card is not able to successfully move through the above steps, access is denied. The system may provide a specific response from the controller or there may not be any response at all.

The software application processing authentication transactions can be accessed by authorized personnel to updated cardholder information, configure hardware and to generate reports of access attempts and successes.

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What Software Is Best for ID Card Printing

If you are looking to print ID cards for your organization, you are likely asking yourself: “What software will work best for my specific needs?”

At Safe-Card ID Services, we recognize that requirements can and do vary from client to client. Our experts are trained to assist clients in making the best choice possible, paying special attention to each unique situation. To this end, it is helpful to know a bit about the options prior to talking with us regarding the available choices. Your choice would then be driven by some combination of features and costs.

Some typical product requirements and features to consider include:

  • Do you need to retain data for each card printed, so that it can be recalled and updated and/or reprinted on-demand?
  • Would you need connect directly to an existing data-source, to eliminate the need to maintain data in two places, and reduce the time and potential for keystroke errors if entered manually?
  • Will you need any special encoding on your cards, such as mag-stripes, bar-codes, QR-codes, or the encoding of access-cards or SmartCards?
  • Will you operate on a Windows or OS-X platform?
  • Will multiple users need to access the software and printer, possibly including simultaneous access?

If you are looking for the absolute least-expensive way to make ID cards, and are technically adept in the advanced use of program such as Adobe Photoshop(R) or Acrobat(R), or even Microsoft Word(R), you can design ID cards and templates within them. This is true, whether you are using a Windows-based PC or Apple’s MAC/OS-X line. The drawback, or course, is that these programs are not purpose-built or optimized for the design and production of ID cards. That usually means many additional minutes or hours of work are required when compared with the use of a dedicated ID card software package. This then becomes both an initial cost, and and ongoing expense.

To simplify the ID badge making process, Safe-Card ID recommends using one of the various ID card software programs available in the market. These products are specifically developed to make it easy to design and print standard-sized ID cards. Being purpose-built, these programs include simple tools that users access to add static or variable elements to their ID card designs, including text boxes, photo fields, logos, background images, barcodes, and more. Static items (those items that will be the same for every card printed) are set such that all cards will have a consistent look. The variable fields would represent information that is unique to each card-holder, including things such as names, titles, individualized photos, and .

The software programs carried by Safe-Card ID are compatible with nearly any of the currently available card printers. They are also generally backwards-compatible with printers made within the last 5 years.

Basic Software Options: The entry level software for most ID card software is able to accommodate ID card needs of low volumes. Full color capabilities, photo imports, bar-code set up options, and more are generally found in this software. In some instances, a basic software packaged comes bundled with the purchase of a new ID printer. Basic versions often include some limits or restrictions including, for example: the number of data fields; the number of data-records stored, the number of available fonts, and/or the ability to add encoded items.

Mid-tier Software Options: Upgraded software options include all of the features included in the basic  ID card software, and then add benefits, such as inclusion of an internal database, unlimited record storage, and some basic encoding abilities. Including an internal database allows users to quickly search, find & reprint cards, including printing in batches. It also facilitates the production of business reports. Often the database can be imported and exported for use in other software programs.

Advanced Software Options: Advanced versions of ID card software have capabilities typically needed in larger organizations. These might include the ability to share the database across multiple users, establishing direct links to data-sources, such as .txt, .csv,. .xls, flat-files, SQL and MSAccess databases, or even direct ODBC links. Additionally, more recent releases include the ability to directly encode access cards, SmartCard (on supported printers). These added features make advanced software versions perfect for high-volumes, and high levels of security.

The current ID card software applications that we recommend most often are Asure ID v7 (from HID Global), ID Flow 7 (from Jolly Technologies), and cardPresso v1.x (from cardPresso). Each company has a demo version available at their respective websites. We recommend that you download them and test out the feel of the interface and the options available. You can find links to the downloads below:

Asure ID Trial Software Download
cardPresso (same as production download; operates in demonstration mode until activated)
ID Flow Download (30-day trial period)

If you would like to speak with our ID card experts, they are ready to help you at 888-485-4696.

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Organizations that Use ID Card Printer Systems

Photo ID card systems produce custom printed cards similar to your driver’s license or your credit card. The majority of cards printed on a card printer are for member or employee identification purposes. Other applications such loyalty cards or discount cards can also be printed on these systems. Many types of industries print ID cards on a daily basis. Although reserved for large organizations and governments a few years back, plastic ID card printer systems have become more reasonably priced and smaller organizations are finding the benefits of the systems a worthwhile expense.

Although almost any organization can find a beneficial use for printed plastic cards, some types of organizations find that card printing is a critical need for the success of their business. Popular business types that commonly use plastic cards are corporations, educational institutions, government and membership organizations.

Corporate – From complex Fortune 500 companies to the smaller mom and pop businesses, all organization are concerned with the preservation of their property and the protection of their employees. Based on company size and reach, various security processes are put in place to ensure safety of all aspects of an organization. Employee, contractor and visitor identification is often a required element for people that are onsite at a facility. Protection of both employees and assets are increased with the requirement of wearing or carrying valid identification when on campus.

Education – All educational institutions are filled with people who are working or learning. From the smallest preschool to large state universities, the verification of eligibility for someone to be on campus is important for the security of everyone involved. Some educational institutions require their faculty and students to wear their identification card while on campus. Many identification cards, especially for universities, are multifunctional and provide options such as access and debit.

Government – Security has increased dramatically in government offices. From federal offices to state and local departments, identification is a normal and is becoming more sophisticated with advanced security techniques. Due to current budget constraints, department heads are constantly looking for ways to increase the value of using identification cards by combining the cards with access functionality, debit options and more.

Financial – It is common for many financial institutions to be able to provide instant issuance of a printed card with personalization. With card printers in branch offices, financial institutions can satisfy customer demand.

Membership organizations – Fitness centers, spas, time share holders, homeowners associations and other membership groups often provide members with authorized membership card. Benefits for cards holders include discounts, access or verify specific information at member events. The possibilities of membership card uses are unlimited.

Popular ID manufacturers to review for your printer needs are: Fargo Printers, Evolis Printers, CIM Printers, Magicard Printers, Datacard Printers, and Zebra Printers

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Tips for Card Printer Maintenance

When you are given the responsibility of operating a photo ID card system, it is good to know a bit about how to care for the printer and supplies. The following tips will help to provide quality custom printing results for years to come

Keep your System in a Clean Environment

Make a special place to store your printer ribbons and PVC cards. Both printer ribbons and PVC cards arrive in plastic wrapping to ensure cleanliness. It is best to store ribbons and cards in their original packaging until needed. This will keep the printing supplies free of dirt.

The process of handling the cards and ribbons is also important. If you touch the surface of the card with your fingers, it is possible to transfer oil and other residue from your fingers on to the card. The oil and dirt will often interfere with the printing process. It is often possible to see fingerprints and dirt on the completed card.

Understand your Card Requirements Prior to Printer Purchase

Compared to just a few years ago, purchasing an ID card printer is a bargain. Although you do want to be concerned with pricing, the more important question to answer is what you need on your completed card. Some printers are intentionally manufactured to handle high volume printing needs. Other printers provide extra security features. Some entry level printers are available for small organizations that are looking for a solid custom card printer for low volume basic ID card printing. Some printers can be upgraded after purchase, but it is best to review your needs and your options prior to purchase so that you aren’t disappointed in the printer performance as your organizations needs change.

Using Cleaning Kits

By reviewing the owner’s manual that comes with the card printer, you will understand the card manufacturer’s recommendations for printer cleaning. Specific kits are manufactured for each printer model and they contain swabs, pens and other needed items to clean the inside and outside of the printer as suggested in the manual. Some manufacturers will provide an initial cleaning kit with their printer in the original purchase to get the printer owner off on the right foot.

Using Dust Covers

If your environment is dusty, it is important to make a plan to keep the printer as clean as a whistle.
If your environment is a bit dusty, you may wish to consider a dust cover to protect the card printer when not operating. Covers are manufactured for specific printer models and assist in keeping the printer clean.

Benefits of ID card printing in house are many. With an understanding of basic printer maintenance, the results of your printing will be pleasing for a long time.

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Benefits of Your Photo ID Badge System

Those who own or manage a business with several employees will find that an ID card printer system will provide a number of benefits for your business. Photo ID card printer systems provide custom printed identification cards. The printed cards provide many benefits that are worthwhile for many business types.

One benefit of employee identification cards is that they can be designed and used as a method of clocking in and out for payroll purposes. By printing a unique bar code on the card or by using mag stripe encoding or smart card encoding, employees can scan their card as they arrive and leave the workplace. With this method of clocking in and out, paperwork is reduced and accuracy of the payroll reporting is increased.

Another important reason for ID badges is for basic identification. When there are a number of employees at your business, it sometimes becomes difficult to know each person by name. When identification is worn, it is easy to know the person’s name as well as other details indicated on the card. Employees who feel recognized by others, especially management, in an organization feel a sense of belonging that helps morale.

A badge printer system also benefits a business that needs extra security options in the business. If you have areas in the facility that are restricted to certain employees, you can secure the room with access control. The ID card printer can encode technology cards that can be used to allow cardholder access.

There are many other additional uses for custom printed cards depending on your organization’s needs. Gift cards are useful for retail shops. Debit cards and check out cards can be used for educational, healthcare and other markets. Other uses are possible for custom printed cards from the basic printed card to technology and smart card implementations.

By obtaining an ID card printer system, you can completely control the production, disbursement and use of the cards used in your organization. The benefits of custom badges produced in house are worthwhile for many businesses.

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Products In An ID Card Printer System

When looking for a turnkey ID card printer system, it is important to find a system that contains all of the pieces that will make your photo ID card making a smooth event. A number of different items are available that may or may not be needed for your printing needs.

Prepackaged systems from manufacturers include products to make a small number of basic ID cards. These systems are great although you may need to add additional items. An example of this is if you will have your employees wear their badge. Most manufacturer generated ID card systems do not include a slot punch or badge attachments to allow the card to be worn. Following are some of the products that are included in custom ID card systems that are recommended by our ID card experts. These products are only needed if they make sense for your card application.

ID Card Printer – This handy machine allows the design you have created to bond with a plastic credit card size PVC card. Coming in single or dual sided printing options, printers can also be found that print only monochrome. Other professional series printers can provide high security elements needed to prevent counterfeiting.

ID Card Software – This important piece of an ID card printer system makes designing and printing cards easier than trying to set up a template in other software programs. The software has a design side that allows a person to lay out their card design and save it. Some ID badge software options contain a database that allows data and photos to be saved for reporting and reprinting purposes. Some software is able to import and export from outside databases.

Printer Ribbons – Each ID card printer uses specific printer ribbons. Some ribbons print full color while others print only one color. Some ribbons print a single side of an ID card while others print both sides or a half panel on the card. Transfer ribbons are necessary in some printers that use reverse transfer printing methodology. Overlaminate ribbons are used in printers that have a lamination station.

ID Cards – PVC cardstock comes in different sizes and thicknesses. Cards need to be image grade quality or above to hold a good quality print. Cardstock is typically white although many colors are available. Standard 30 ml CR-80 cardstock will print in all ID card printers. Some printers will print cards as thin as 10 ml or as thick as 40 ml.

ID Camera – ID cameras for photos can range from a simple web camera to a digital camera. The quality of the camera will determine the quality of the printed photo on the card.

Badge Holders and Attachments – Various types of badge holders and attachments are available for wearing and securing ID cards. Popular options are badge clips, lanyards, and reels. Other badge wearing options are available for specialized environments or needs.

Slot Punch – If your card will be worn, it may be necessary to place a slot punch hole into the badge. Slot punches provide a professional hole that will not crack the plastic badge.

Data Capture Devices – Some situations require additional special information on the card. Using capture devices, things such as fingerprints and signatures can be obtained and printed on the badge.

Dust Cover – This handy product protects your printer when not in use. Keeping the printer clean is an important element in quality ID card printing.

Cleaning Kits – The inside of the printer must be kept dust and dirt free to provide cards that have sharp results. Manufacturers have specific cleaning kits for each printer model and recommended instructions for cleaning the printer.

Extended Warranty – Depending on your situation, an extended warranty may be a requirement. Various warranty options are available based on the printer model and the manufacturer.

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YMCKT Printer Ribbon

YMCKT Printer Ribbons

This is a print ribbon for single sided ID card printers. The YMCKT abbreviation is used by Datacard and stands for the following:

Y – Yellow
M – Magenta
C – Cyan
K- Monochrome Black
T – Topcoat

The yellow, magenta and cyan panels provide the color for printed card. Each panel provides a part of the specific color needed. Color from each panel is released as it passes under the printhead. The panel colors released combine to produce the desired result. The K panel produces the black color needed for bar codes, text and more. The T is a thin, protective overlay that covers all of the the YMCK colors printed on the card.

To find the correct print ribbon for your ID badge printer system, visit our online printer ribbon store or contact our ID experts at 888-485-4696.

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YMCKO Printer Ribbons

YMCKO Printer Ribbons

This is a print ribbon for single sided ID card printers. The YMCKO stands for the following:

Y – Yellow
M – Magenta
C – Cyan
K- Monochrome Black
O – Overcoat

The primary color panels are the yellow, magenta and cyan. Each panel provides its portion of the specific color to be printed. The panel color combines with color from the other panels to produce the mixture needed for color on the plastic ID card. The K panel produces the black color needed for text, bar codes and more. The O is a thin, protective overlay that covers all of the the YMCK colors printed on the card.

To find the correct print ribbon for your ID badge printer system, visit our online printer ribbon store or contact our ID experts at 888-485-4696.

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Campus Safety and Staff Efficiency Increased with Identification

Yesterday, the manufacturer of Zebra card printers outlined the benefits of providing secure identification for educational staff and students in a blog post. They advised that the benefits of using identification cards allow improved processes and increased security of the campus.

The article released advised that since it is not possible to hire enough security guards to police every corner of campus, one way to help secure school facilities and people was to issue identification cards similar to the way corporations do. Admissions departments can issue advanced level cards during student registration that can be used to check out books from the library and access various approved facilities on campus. It is possible to configure the cards so that they can be used for debit purposes in campus bookstores and dining facilities.

School cards can be used by retailers that market to the students and staff. Student/staff discounts and special offers can be generated with showing a valid ID. This will help to boost sales of local businesses.

Good quality ID card printing on durable cardstock will provide an ID lasting for many semesters of school. These cards will provide a better workflow process saving time and costs for many necessary procedures.

Here is the begining of the article from Zebra’s blog:

From universities to primary schools, a revolution in technology is taking shape. The days when mundane tasks such as registration, book purchases, and meal programs required an army of administrators to manage piles of paperwork is but a digital page in today’s history e-books. 21st-century innovation is bringing automation—and a chance to improve security—to the campus.

With education costs skyrocketing, departments at all levels are looking for ways to trim expenses while maximizing staff productivity. Add the looming threats to campus security, and educators must make decisions that trade off the quality of education verses protecting our students. In fact, the 2011 Campus Safety magazine’s “How Safe Is Your Campus?” report revealed that 42 percent of faculty said their institutions fail to dedicate sufficient resources to campus safety and security. Gone are the days of open campuses and a friendly smile to protect our students. READ MORE

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UPS Requires Photo IDs from Over the Counter Shippers

Today, UPS is implementing a tighter security process at their UPS stores and Mailboxes, Etc. locations around the world.  Customers who wish to ship packages by UPS will now be required to show a government-issued photo identification in order to send  packages.

The change resulted from a security review that was completed within the company after an incident in October.  UPS shipped packages addressed to Jewish organizations in Chicago were found to have explosives in them.  The explosives were discovered in a UPS cargo plane originating from Yemen. The contents were shipped as printer cartridges.

UPS now requires customers who ship packages through their retail locations to present a government issued photo ID.  The UPS employee will not collect information from the identification, but will verify the shipper much like a retailer requesting to see an ID to match a credit card presented for payment.  If the package already contains a preprinted UPS label processed online, UPS will not require the identification as the package has been identified through the online process.

In this holiday season, many occasional shippers provide significant increase in the shipping volume of UPS .  This increased security process seems to be a reasonable change to assist in ensuring the safety of UPS employees and package receivers world wide.

UPS advises that acceptable forms of photo ID are driver’s licenses, passports, U.S. permanent residence cards, U.S. military identification and Native American tribal identification cards.