Getting started with photo id

New to Photo Identification

Photo ID cards are essential for a business, whether they be for visitors, contractors or staff. Today, on-demand plastic card printing for photo IDs, staff badges, student IDs, membership cards, and more are convenient and inexpensive than ever.  You can get started for as little as $700, but make sure you invest in a solution that fits your business needs.

Here are a few tips to get you started in your quest. 

Assess your Needs
You should assess your business needs in regards to the kind of photo ID cards you require and then choose the appropriate printer.
  • Do you need a small printer that is inexpensive and that can print small volumes of photo ID cards?
  • Do you require additional security features on the cards and what are they?
  • Do you need to print a large number of cards each month?
  • Do you want double- or single-sided cards?
  • Do you need contactless smart cards or just the normal plastic cards?
Here is a video that can get you started in assessing your needs.
Plastic card printers use dye-sublimation technology to create life-like images on pvc cards.  The technology is proven and has been around since the mid-1990’s.  There are two types of dye-sublimation printers – direct to card (DTC) and retransfer printers (RTF):
  • If you are looking for a lower cost printer, a printer that is easy to use, or a printer with high-speed printing then a DTC printer may be best.  The technology is very common and very reliable.  DTC printers are available from many manufacturers at pricing ranging from $700 to over $8,000.  DTC printers offer security features, smart card encoding and today’s state of the art card technologies.
  • If you are looking for the best image quality with deep card colors, full-bleed (over the edge) printing, or your cards’ have imperfections (surface deviations) then RTF printers may be the best.  RTF printers are available from many manufacturers.  As they are more complex to manufacture, they have a higher price point – ranging from $3,500 to over $10,000.  Retransfer printers offer security features, smart card encoding and today’s state of the art card technologies.  Learn more about printing technology here.
Ease of Use

An easy-to-use printer is likely to produce great results quickly. Choose a printer that is easy to install and set up and can print the cards within a minute. It should be compatible with the operating system of your computer.

It should be easy to address issues such as low ribbon notifications, a cleaning cycle prompt, and current print status.

Choose the right consumables

To print ID cards, you will need consumables such as plastic cards, card printer ribbons, card design software, lanyards and card holders.

Some printers come as a complete package so that when you purchase, you get the printer, printing ribbon, ID card software and plastic cards. If you purchase a standalone printer, you will be required to purchase the consumables separately.

Make sure to choose the right consumables for your printer.  Most manufacturers use the same dye-Sublimation technology, but their consumables are not interchangeable. 

Consider the security features you will need on the photo id cards

Most likely you will require security features in your photo id cards. There are various ways in which security is added to the cards, such as a watermark security, holographic image laminate, stretch tile, custom tile, holo patch, smart card encoder or fluorescent ultraviolet security.

Decide which security features you need and buy an appropriate card printer that can provide that level of security.

Consider the design of the cards

Determine the information that will be on the cards. For instance, an employee’s photo ID card can have the name of the employee, designation, name or logo of the company, issue date, expiry date, and the security features.

Decide how the photo will look, whether large or small and the orientation of the card. Determine how the cards will be worn. If using lanyards, clips or badge reels, you will be required to consider the size, shape, and location of the card slot.

There are many security measures a business can take and investing in photo identification cards is a good first step. Protect your venture’s assets by making sure your employees and associates are properly identified when engaging in business activities.