ID Badge Printing Methods

ID badges produced for visitor monitoring or access control applications invariably use the same card production process. There are a number of different production methods, which produce varying degrees of security integration.

The least expensive badge printing method is also the least secure. Printers using an inkjet printing engine are designed to accept blank cards with a surface that will accept ink.

Not only are these printers less expensive initially, the ink cartridges are relatively inexpensive compared to more advanced printing media.

Security weaknesses include a lack of built-in lamination and print definition quality needed for higher security applications. Most ID badge printing software incorporates both inkjet and dye sublimation printing options allowing you to choose which output suits your needs.

The most popular method of card production utilises the most popular printing method found today: Direct-To-Card (DTC) printers. These printers use a dye-sublimation process where the print head transfers colors from a special ribbon directly to the ID card.

Advanced models of DTC printers can also be equipped to apply either a standard lamination layer or a high-security overlaminate containing at least one visual security element.

Various ribbons are available for DTC printers based on the ID badge design and security needs of the end user. Full-color ribbons blend up to 16.7 million colors to produce photo-quality images. Full-color ribbons are also available with a special fluorescing panel to produce a covert visual security element viewable only under ultraviolet light.

When producing barcodes encoded with cardholder-specific data, one of two types of black may be used. The standard black produced by dye-sublimation ribbons produces a barcode that can only be read by a visible-light reader. Black resin ribbons produce a barcode readable by infrared-light readers. This provides a higher level of security since the more sophisticated infrared-based reader will reject a copied barcode.

The most expensive and most secure method of ID card production uses a high-definition printer. This type of card printer actually first prints an extremely high-quality image onto a special film, then the film is transferred by a heat and pressure process to the ID card.

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