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4 Questions to Ask When Buying a New ID Card Printer

Posted by Jennifer Pepmiller on Feb 11, 2020 4:13:03 PM

Purchasing a new ID card printer is a big undertaking. With so many variables to consider, it's easy to see why just thinking about buying a new ID card printer can be overwhelming to some.

Think about the number of variables to consider: Magnetic stripe encoding. Lamination stations. Retransfer printing. Dual-sided. Edge-to-edge. Over-the-edge. The list goes on.

"I just want to buy one that will work for me," you end up thinking.

We get it. An ID card printer is a big investment, and you want to make sure you get it right the first time. It's hard enough to run a seamless badging program; it's near impossible to run one if you're constantly worrying about your printer being the wrong one for the job.

With that in mind, we've compiled this list of four essential questions you need to ask yourself when preparing to buy a new ID card printer. 

These aren't the only variables you need to consider, but the answers to these questions will help narrow down your search and ensure that you land on the right machine for you.

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Topics: tech tips, ID cards, IDP printers, Zebra printers, ID card printers, Fargo printers

How to Fix 3 of the Most Common ID Card Printer Problems

Posted by Dan Ryan on Nov 1, 2018 6:00:00 AM

There's no shame in being a little overwhelmed by them: ID card printers are complicated pieces of machinery.

Even the most basic printers contain dozens of moving parts, all of which need to perform perfectly in order for the end result to be a nice, professional student ID card, employee badge or other credential.

Troubleshooting issues is a fact of life with any kind of machine, whether it's a printer, a blender or a $100,000 sports car. And while we all do the best we can to keep our machines running like new, even well-maintained machines are going to run into trouble at some point.

In early May, we published a post on how schools should prepare for next year's student ID badging job, but one of the tips in that post can be applied to any big badging operation: test your ID card printer frequently.

When you test your ID card printer, the ideal result is that you don't encounter anything out of the ordinary: you design a test card, send it to the printer and it comes out great. Perfect! Time for lunch.

However, chances are that somewhere along the line, your card isn't going to come out looking perfect. The print will be off, you'll see a smudge or there will be some other issue.

Don't worry: these are common issues that every printer owner is going to encounter at some point, and there are quick ways to identify and solve the problem.

Don't let printer issues slow you down

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Topics: ID card printers, printer supplies, tech support, printer support

Why Used Printer Ribbons Are a Threat to the Security of Your ID Card Program

Posted by Dan Ryan on Aug 10, 2018 8:00:00 AM

When creating new ID cards, most organizations are going to put at least a little bit of thought into ID card security features. The amount of thought will vary from site to site, of course: a gym printing membership cards won't be as security-conscious as a government office printing employee ID badges

No organization wants its cards to be easily counterfeited. That's why many of today's card security features exist: things like UV printing and holographic stamping are ways to ensure that forgers and scammers can't copy a badge for illegitimate purposes.

Learn more about today's most popular on-card security features.

Other card security products exist as well, including things like shielded badge holders and locking card cases. Card security is big business, and organizations go to great lengths to keep their cards protected.

But if you're printing ID cards on site, one of the bigger threats to your ID card program is probably sitting in your nearest trash barrel: used printer ribbons.

Stop throwing away sensitive card data

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Topics: ID card printers, id card security, ribbon shredder, counterfeiting

Printer Ribbons: What does YMCKO mean?

Posted by Dan Ryan on Jan 3, 2018 5:00:00 AM

There are all kinds of random acronyms and abbreviations in the identification industry:


With all of these letters and numbers, product titles and descriptions can sometimes look more like alphabet soup than actual sentences.

Many of the acronyms are fairly intuitive. Everyone knows what "ID" is, and "CR80" is pretty easy to understand once you read about it the first time.

However, one of the more common ID acronyms is a bit more difficult to fully understand: YMCKO.

No, YMCKO (unfortunately) isn't a new and improved version of the YMCA. Sorry, Village People!  

Instead, YMCKO is an abbreviation used to describe the color panels contained in a PVC printer ribbon

Confused? We'll explain.

It's fun to print with a Y-M-C-K-O!

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Topics: ID card printers, infographics, printer supplies

Why Should You Laminate Your ID Cards?

Posted by Dan Ryan on Nov 29, 2017 10:30:00 AM

Choosing between laminated ID cards and standard ID cards is one of the first decisions you must make when selecting new card stock for an ID program.

Why, you ask? 

Because the results of that debate are going to determine what you do with a variety of other important aspects of your program,  including:

  • What kind of ID card printer you need
  • Your cost for ID card supplies
  • Whether or not you need a card-carrying accessory
Initially, many people see the higher cost of a lamination-enabled card printer or see the burden of buying a laminating machine with pouches and are put off by the idea of lamination.

"We'll just be careful with the cards," they think.

However, laminating your ID cards offers a number of benefits to both your ID program and your organization as a whole. Some are obvious. Some are a little more obscure. 

But all three will have your organization wondering why it didn't make the switch to laminated cards sooner.

Learn more about how you'll benefit from using laminated ID cards

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Topics: card tips, ID cards, government ID cards, ID card printers, student id cards, employee badges, laminated ID cards, laminating pouches

3 Reasons Your School Should Invest in a Printer Support Plan

Posted by Dan Ryan on May 9, 2017 10:30:00 AM

Lets's be honest: service plans have a bad reputation, and it's not really fair.

Service plans or support contracts are often viewed as unnecessary throw-ins, added on at the end of a transaction by a greedy salesperson who's looking to pad his or her bottom line.

"Say, would you like to add a two-year contract to that blender for only $44.99? It covers everything!"

As a society obsessed with gadgets and the latest technologies, service plans have become ubiquitous, and with that ubiquity has come a level of annoyance: "no, I don't want that, just ring me up so I can go home."

However, there's a level of investment where the burden of the additional cost associated with a service plan is outweighed by the benefits and peace of mind that service plan provides.

Cars, home appliances and large machinery are common items where a service plan or extended warranty just makes sense: you paid so much for the thing that you want to make sure it's not going to die after a few months.

A school probably isn't investing in a new six-burner range any time soon, but many schools do make an investment in a valuable piece of machinery that could benefit from a service plan: an ID card printer.

More than just a throw-in...

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Topics: ID card printers, student id cards, tech support, printer support, schools

3 Ways to Prepare for Next Year's School ID Badge Printing Operation

Posted by Dan Ryan on May 3, 2017 9:00:00 AM

The weather is getting warmer and the remnants of winter have slowly melted away.

Spring is here! And with the arrival of spring, the eyes of students, teachers and administrators can't help but wander toward what comes after spring: summer, and with it weeks of freedom.

However, while we think spring is great and we love summer, we can't let you forget what's coming after summer: another school year.

Buzzkill, we know.

But spring is usually school budgeting season, that oh-so-fun time of year where schools need to plan their expenses for the upcoming school year.

This is commonly referred to as school buying season, as it's when schools begin either budgeting for or making purchases with an eye toward the coming school year.

Part of that budgeting process should involve assessing your ID badging needs, as a new school year brings new students, and new students require new badges. 

If you're going to need new card stock, new supplies or a new printer, now is the time to get it in your budget. However, chances are your various ID needs got lost in the craziness of another school year.

With that in mind, we've got three things you can to to take stock of your current ID situation and make sure you make the most of this school buying season.

Check, double check and triple check

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Topics: ID card printers, school visitor management, printer supplies, school ID tips

Should You Use PVC ID Cards with a Reverse-Transfer Card Printer?

Posted by Dan Ryan on Apr 7, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Reverse-transfer ID card printers are a great solution for any organization looking to print high-quality, full-color employee badges, bank cards, student ID cards and more.

Basically, if you want a professional, sharp-looking credential, a reverse-transer printer is a good choice.

These printers, also known as "retransfer" printers for short, use a unique print method that differs from less expensive direct-to-card printers in a key way: with retransfer printers, the printhead never touches the surface of the card.

Retransfer printers, like the Zebra® ZXP Series 9 or the Fargo® HDP5600, require a roll of transfer film to print on a card.

The printhead prints your imagery and text on the transfer film, which is then applied to the surface of your card and cured with heat for a durable, long-lasting solution.

This process is what allows retransfer printers to offer true over-the-edge printing and long-lasting printheads.

Unfamiliar with edge-to-edge and over-the-edge printing? Check out our blog post!

However, the process also comes with a potential snag, one that can potentially do serious damage to your printer: it's very hard on PVC cards.

If you can't stand the heat...

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Topics: tech tips, ID cards, ID card printers, laminated ID cards, composite ID cards, PVC ID cards

Edge-to-Edge Printing vs. Over-the-Edge Printing: What's the Difference?

Posted by Dan Ryan on Mar 17, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Printing ID cards can be a confusing undertaking.

While most people would love a simple solution that allows you to put a blank card in and get a printed one out without much thought, that's never the way it works.

People unfamiliar with ID card printers are often under the mistaken impression that these machines must be similar to standard paper printers; after all, printers are printers, right?


Choosing an ID card printer requires making dozens of small decisions.

Unlike the "color vs. black and white" debate that countless offices and households have when shopping for a new paper printer, the search for an ID card printer requires a more detailed discussion.

Here are just a few of the questions one needs to consider when buying an ID card printer:

  • One-sided printing or dual-sided printing?
  • Lamination or no lamination?
  • Smart card encoding or no?
  • Magnetic stripe encoding or no?
  • How many cards will you be printing on a monthly basis?

Overwhelmed yet? Hopefully not, because we haven't gotten to one of the most important questions yet: do you want edge-to-edge printing or over-the-edge printing?

Before you answer, let's take a closer look at what separates the two styles.

Living on the edge

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Topics: tech tips, ID cards, IDP printers, Zebra printers, ID card printers, Fargo printers, id card tips, printer tips

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