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ID Card Printing Overview

ID Card Printing Overview

ID Card Printing Overview

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ID Card Printing Overview

ID Card Maker

ID Card Printing Overview

There are three principal digital card printing technologies used by desktop systems with an ID card printer to print personalized cards: dye-sublimination printing, reverse-image printing, and inkjet ID card printing.


Dye-sublimation printing is the most common technology used by digital card printers to print images directly onto the surface of a plastic ID card. The process involves heating a special print ribbon beneath a thermal printhead and applying pressure so that the ribbon is in contact with the card and the printhead rests on the top of the ribbon, resulting in the transfer of color from the ribbon to a blank ID card.


ID Card Printers


Reverse image printing is a process in which the ID card printer first prints images onto a special film, which is then laminated onto the surface of a blank card through heat and pressure. By printing on the film rather than directly on the surface of a card, the ceramic printheads in high definition printing systems are less susceptible to damage that can result from contact with debris or imperfections on the hard surface of a card. High definition printing also eliminates many of the printing irregularities that can occur in direct-to-card printing when the printhead fails to maintain contact with a dirty or uneven card surface. Proximity cards and smart cards, which tend to have uneven surfaces due to embedded wires and smart chips, have more successful printing results using high definition printing. High definition printing generally produces higher quality images than direct-to-card printing, and affords users the ability to print on many ID card sizes, types, or chemical compositions, including biodegradable cards.


Inkjet printing systems are the standard printing technology for desktop computing due to their ease of use and quiet and reliable operation. However, this form of non-impact printing has only recently been introduced in the photo ID card market, because the inks are water-based and do not readily adhere to plastic cards. However inkjet technology and card materials continue to improve and manufacturers such as Fargo Electronics have released some very easy-to-use, reliable and high-quality inkjet ID card printers.

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Not sure how to choose
an ID card printer?

  1. Approximately how many cards
    will you print per year?
  1. Do you need to automatically
    print on both sides of the card?
  1. Do you need a magnetic stripe?
Buyer's Guide to ID Card Printers

The Complete Card
Printer Buyer's Guide

With such a wide range of ID printers, evaluating the options can be overwhelming. This FREE 7-step guide will walk you through choosing the perfect card printer.

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