Visual Security (Flash Pass)

Photo identification cards are primarily used for visual security in the hopes of answering the questions –  “Who are you? Do you belong here?”   Photo ID printers have become less expensive over the years. This is good for businesses wishing to improve their security, but it is also easier for criminals to buy a printer to create fake look-alike badges.  If your organization values security and wants to limit the threat of counterfeiters, then increasing your card’s security with a hologram id card laminate will reduce the risk and additionally increase the life of your secure ID cards. 

Photo identification card printers that can apply a security hologram, such as the SMART-51L, SMART-70L, and SMART-81L, have an additional step in the printing process to physical laminate an additional film over the printed card surface.   This additional layer not only provides layers of security as detailed below, but also add durability to the card.

Levels of Security

Holographic security is divided into three levels and within each level there are specific holographic features.

  • Level One Overt Features – these features are visible to the naked eye such as rainbow, grayscale, and true coloring.  As well as switch images (an image changes from one image to another by tilting the card), guilloche patterns, and wireframe text.  Level One holograms are originated at up to 600dpi.
  • Level Two Covert Features – these features require some training and or a tool to see, such as color-shifting inks, security inks (UV/IR), micro-text, latent images, and covert laser retrievable images (CLR).  Level Two holograms are originated at up to 1200dpi.
  • Level Three Forensic Features – these features are visible only to trained individuals.  They are hidden to a point where even the employees manufacturing the holograms are on a need-to-know basis.

Generic or Stock Holograms

Most manufacturers of Photo ID Card Printers have generic (stock) holograms available and may also offer custom hologram options.   A generic hologram is a standard image that anyone can purchase.  IDP has many vertical market generic images such as Law Enforcement, Medical/Healthcare, Fire Rescue, and two types of globe security images.  Stock images offer Level One security and can greatly reduce the risk of counterfeiting and image alteration.

Custom Holograms

Most manufacturers of Photo ID Card Printers offer custom holograms as great way to maximize security and increase card life.  Custom holograms are sometimes confusing to purchase, so here are some tips:

  1. Budgeting – to create a custom hologram your chosen manufacturer will typically require 60 or even 80 rolls as a minimum order.  In addition to that, there is an origination fee.  This is a one-time charge to originate (create/shoot) your unique image.  The best way to budget for a custom hologram is to determine how many cards you will print/laminate within a two-year period.  Two years is typically a safe shelf life for laminate material.  
  2. Calculate costs – if you are planning to print/laminate 15,000 cards in a two-year period, then you would have to buy the minimum order quantity from your manufacturers – let’s call it 80 rolls.  80 roll will produce 20,000 cards (250 cards per roll).  The list price for 80 rolls is $190 per roll or $15,200.  In addition, you’ll have to pay the origination fee.  These fees vary based on your level of security, but for this example we’ll use a level one origination.  The list price for that is $5,000.  Total costs for the custom hologram would be $20,200 or about $1.00 per card.   Prices may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, for instance IDP offers promotions, lower minimum order quantities and lower cost originations. 
  3. Lead-time – creating a custom hologram will take roughly 10 to 12 weeks.  It is a long process due to the many manufacturing steps involved.

Custom Holograms are Worth It!

  • Security – Custom holograms are unique to your organization.  Using a generic hologram will increase your security, but those generic holograms are freely available in the market.  A custom hologram is locked to you and will not be sold to anyone but your organization.   Additionally, hologram images can also be registered with the International Hologram Manufacturers Association (IHMA).  Doing so will further secure your image from being duplicated by other member hologram manufacturers.  
  • Durability – Custom laminate film is highly durable.  1mil thick “patch” laminate undergoes rigorous testing to ensure it will withstand common use cases.  IDP uses the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators  (AAMVA) standards and testing for driver’s license durability on all its patch laminates.
  • Channel/Purchase Security – IDP will only sell the custom hologram laminate rolls to dealer/reseller that you authorize and would never allow custom hologram to be sold via online retailers or web marketplaces. 

Still Too Expensive?

  • If, after some research, you have determined that generic or custom holograms are too expensive for your organization, then check out Printed Security features.  These features offer Level One overt affects that can be customized with the printers driver (unique feature of IDP’s SMART Printers), but do not offer extended-life durability of a patch laminate film.

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