How to find the right card printer

The search for a card printer that is optimally tailored to your own requirements requires not only sufficient time but also good preparation.

Before looking for a suitable ID printer, you should first define your individual requirements that the device has to meet. Every card printer offers different functions and is not automatically suitable for all tasks.

Don't just think about the current project for which you need your credit card printer, but also about future uses. A coding module may not be of interest for the current project, but it may be an important function in the future if you want to use your plastic cards for access control or time recording.

On the other hand, if you only print 20 cards a year, it makes little sense to buy a card printer that is specially built for high volume jobs.

With the right questions in advance, you can narrow down the selection of relevant card printers very well.

Overview: Important considerations before purchasing a card printer

  1. What are the cards used for?
  2. How often are plastic cards printed?
  3. Should the ID cards be printed on one or both sides?
  4. Should the ID be printed repeatedly?
  5. Do the cards have to be particularly durable?
  6. Does the ID require certain security features?
  7. Should the blank card be fully printed?
  8. Should chip cards be printed?
  9. Should chip cards be encoded?
  10. What are the future requirements?
  11. How important is the print quality?
  12. Should the card printer be controlled by several computers?

What are the cards used for?

Do you only use your printed plastic cards as a visual ID or also for access control? Depending on the application, you may need a suitable coding module, which is usually not installed as standard. A distinction must be made here between magnetic strips, chip cards and RFID card coding modules.

How often are plastic cards printed?

The answer to this question is more important than it initially appears. Not every printer is designed for constant print jobs or the production of high volume ID cards. Some credit card printers are designed for beginners and especially for smaller print volumes.

Should the ID cards be printed on one or both sides?

In theory, you can print on both sides of a plastic card with all card printers. In the case of a one-sided card printer, however, this is associated with a circumstance. Here you would have to turn the plastic card by hand after printing the front and print the back again in a second printing process.

With a dual-sided card printer, however, this step is carried out automatically, so that the card is only issued when both sides of the card have been printed. If you print fewer cards, you can still accept this fact. A dual card printer is more than useful, especially with higher print volumes.

Should the ID be printed repeatedly?

Student IDs or visitor IDs need to be updated regularly. Be it due to a change in the validity date, name or semester ticket. The ID does not have to be completely re-produced, but can be repeatedly personalized with a so-called "thermal rewrite card printer".

Do the cards have to be particularly durable?

Even if the printed surface of ID cards is extremely robust and will last for many years, you should protect your ID cards with a laminate if the cards are frequently exposed to high loads. A few card printers have integrated laminators, more often a card printer can be upgraded with an optional laminator.

Expert tip:
Retransfer card printers automatically create a natural protective layer by placing a film over the card every time you print. This is due to the printing process used by retransfer printers. If your plastic cards are only exposed to normal physical stress in the future, you will usually get by without additional laminates.

Does the ID require certain security features?

In the event that your ID cards have to meet increased security criteria, there are different approaches to meet these with a check card printer. This starts with a "simple" protection of ID cards by applying a laminate with a hologram. Other card printers are also able to print ID cards with UV ribbons. For highly secure projects, such as the issue of driving licenses, there is also the option of laser personalization. You will find the right card printer for every security level with us.

Should the blank card be fully printed?

Printing cards right up to the edge (running away from the edge) is only possible with a retransfer card printer. Thermal sublimation printers cannot quite fulfill this task - there is always a small white, unprinted border towards the edge of the card.

Should chip cards be printed?

If you want to print chip cards, you should only do this with a retransfer card printer. A dye-sublimation printer or direct-to-card printer can also print on chip cards, but this is not recommended.

This can be explained by the fact that smart cards have a small chip and a small antenna that are located on the card and thus cause an uneven surface. If the card is now printed with a dye-sublimation printer, there is a high probability that there will be print failures in the flat areas of the card.

Retransfer card printers, on the other hand, use a printing process with which you can easily print on uneven surfaces.

Should chip cards be encoded?

Printing smart cards and RFID cards is no problem with a retransfer card printer. If you want to encode your plastic cards at the same time, you have to choose a smart card printer with an encoding module. Almost all devices can be equipped with additional coding modules that allow coding of the most common chip technologies worldwide.

What are the future requirements?

If the needs within your business or your card printing are likely to change or grow, buying a card printer that can easily evolve with your business is essential. It is best to buy an ID card printer that is configurable.

How important is the print quality?

Would you just like to add your name, membership number and barcode to your ID? Then in most cases a "simple" dye-sublimation printer is recommended. If you would like to print your ID cards with full-surface designs or photos, a retransfer card printer is recommended. Retransfer models produce vivid images in photo quality and are able to print the ID card over the entire surface.

Should the card printer be controlled by several computers?

If you want to control your credit card printer from several workstations, it must be integrated into your LAN network and have an Ethernet interface. Some card printers can even be equipped with a WLAN module and can therefore be selected directly.

Conclusion

It is extremely helpful to deal with the exact requirements of your printing system at an early stage. Study these topics before you explicitly look for a specific card printer model. You can then filter and limit the selection of relevant printers in a meaningful way.

If you have any further questions to which you have not yet been able to find an answer, our staff will be happy to help you.