Select the Perfect Printer Expert Tips & Quotes
Table of Contents 
- Printer Advice
- Introduction to Plastic Card Printers
- Types of Plastic Card Printers
- Understanding Printer Accessories: Ribbons
- Adding Data to Plastic Cards
- Choosing the Right Plastic Card Printer
Introduction to Plastic Card Printers
Plastic card printers have become an essential part of many businesses today. They offer a versatile solution for printing a variety of cards, such as membership cards, gift cards, employee badges, and much more. Not only do they provide a professional and durable finish to the cards, but they can also accommodate different types of data and artwork. Plastic Card ID offers a wide range of plastic card printers, along with various accessories like ribbons, that can cater to your specific needs.
In this article, we'll dive deeper into the world of plastic card printers, the different types available, the accessories they require, and plenty of Printer Advice to help you make an informed decision. So, let's get started!
Types of Plastic Card Printers
Direct-to-card printers are one of the most popular types of plastic card printers available in the market. They print the design directly onto the card's surface by using a process called dye sublimation. This type of printer is ideal for businesses that need to print high-quality images and text for their cards, while also being cost-effective.
Retransfer Card Printers
Retransfer card printers, also known as reverse transfer printers, provide a higher print quality than direct-to-card printers. They use a two-step process wherein the design is first printed onto a clear retransfer film, and then the film is fused onto the card's surface. This results in a more accurate print with better color reproduction. Retransfer card printers are suitable for businesses requiring a higher level of print quality and more durable cards.
Inkjet Card Printers
Inkjet card printers use tiny droplets of ink to create images and text onto the card's surface. While they may not offer the print quality of dye sublimation or retransfer printers, they still produce good quality prints and can be a more cost-effective option. They are especially suitable for smaller businesses or for personal use.
Understanding Printer Accessories: Ribbons
Ribbons play a crucial role in the printing process of plastic cards. They contain the colored panels required for printing the design onto the card. There are various types of ribbons available, depending on the type of printer and the required print quality.
Color ribbons, also known as YMCK ribbons, are used for printing full-color designs onto plastic cards. They consist of four panels yellow (Y), magenta (M), cyan (C), and black (K). These panels combine to create a full spectrum of colors on the card. Most plastic card printers use color ribbons for their printing needs.
As the name suggests, monochrome ribbons are used to print single-color designs onto plastic cards. They are available in various colors, such as black, blue, red, and others, and are commonly used for personalizing pre-printed cards or printing text, barcodes, and serial numbers.
Beyond standard color and monochrome ribbons, some printers have specific requirements for their printing needs. These specialty ribbons are designed to cater to these needs, such as metallic ribbons for printing metallic designs, scratch-off ribbons for creating scratch-off cards, or signature panel ribbons for adding writable signature panels to cards.
Adding Data to Plastic Cards
Printing Barcodes and QR Codes
Many businesses require the addition of barcodes or QR codes to their cards for identification or tracking purposes. Plastic card printers can easily accommodate this need by printing these codes directly onto the card's surface. This eliminates the need for purchasing separate barcode labels and ensures a more professional and durable finish.
Encoding Magnetic Stripe Data
Magnetic stripes are a standard feature in many plastic cards, such as credit cards, access cards, and gift cards. These stripes store data that can be read by card readers. Plastic card printers equipped with magnetic stripe encoding modules can encode magnetic stripe data directly onto the cards during the printing process. This feature allows businesses to easily create custom cards with encoded data on-demand.
Choosing the Right Plastic Card Printer
When deciding on a plastic card printer for your needs, it's essential to consider various factors, such as:
- Print volume Choose a printer that can handle your required print volume efficiently. Some printers are better suited for smaller print volumes, while others can handle larger volumes without compromising print quality or speed.
- Print quality Determine the level of print quality you require for your cards. If you need high-resolution images and text, consider opting for retransfer card printers.
- Data encoding options If you need to add barcodes, QR codes, or magnetic stripe data onto your cards, make sure the printer you choose supports these functions.
- Cost Finally, consider your budget and the cost of consumables such as ribbons. While some printers may be more affordable upfront, the cost of ribbons and other consumables can add up over time.
Plastic Card ID offers an extensive range of plastic card printers and accessories to cater to your specific requirements. Whether you are a small business or a large organization, our team of Printer Advice experts can help you find the perfect printer to meet your needs. Contact us today to learn more!