As the seasons turn and focus shifts into the new year, you may find yourself needing an ID card printer to speed up the issuance of professional identification badges at your offices.
But how do you choose which printer will be the best for you?
There are dozens of desktop plastic card printers. There are cute printers, big printers, industrial printers, with all sorts of confusing terminology linked to each. It is a trick to know what is important and what is just marketing mumbo jumbo.
Let’s look at a few of the factors:
1. Do you need Colour or Monochrome printing?
When looking at your project, do you need a printer that will print just black or monochrome text? Or would you prefer to add a logo, photo or other colour elements.
This is important. Monochrome printers seem enticing. They are about R1000 less than a colour printer- and for just a few cents per card, you can print names and numbers on your plastic card. However, keep in mind that they are very limiting. If you ever need to print a logo, colour photo, you will need to invest in a new printer.
Plastic card printers are made to last a couple of years, and it is important to look at the big picture when investing your money into one.
Most colour printers are equipped to print monochrome images and colour images, depending on the ribbon you place inside the machine. With just a little more money for a good quality colour machine, you will be able to print ANYTHING you wish, with a switch of a ribbon, for several years. It will still only be a few cents per card to print monochrome, and just a few rands to print colour. Adding professional graphics, details and secure images will enhance the image of your company as well as the security of your card.
2. What will your cards look like?
Although you haven’t yet decided on artwork, it is helpful to know if you want printing on one or both sides of the card.
If you have printing on just one side of the card, and expect to print this way for a while, a good single sided printer will suite you perfectly!
If you have printing on both sides of the card, you have a bit more thinking to do, as either a single sided or dual sided machine will suite you.
Simplex printers print one side of the card at a time. If you would like printing on both sides, you would need to manually flip and re-insert the card. Some clients use this option for low volumes as it is easy to print a stack of cards with just one side of the card (usually the back) with all the static information and information that doesn’t change, then reload the machine to print all of the front sides of the card.
Duplex printers, or dual sided printers, are equipped with an internal flipper, and will flip your card as part of the print process. Dual sided plastic card printers certainly help when you have high volumes of double-sided plastic cards to print. Dual sided printer are quite a bit more expensive than single sided printers. In the South African market, you can expect to pay about 25%-50% more for a dual sided machine.
3. What are your projected volumes?
There are different types of card printers for every volume. Not all printers are made the same.
Certain printers, specifically the very cute, or very gimmicky printers are made for short-term, low volume projects. They are, on average, expensive to repair or get parts for, and the cost per card for the consumable cost is higher.
Other printers are great midrange printers. They are low enough in cost to suite small volumes, but robust enough to last many many years. The DCP240+ is an excellent printer for volumes of 100-20 000 a year because of it’s entry level cost, and solid construction. Most of our printers in our card printing bureau are the DCP240+ and DCP340+ with printhead counts of over 300 000 prints. That’s some serious value for entry level machines!
Other printers are better equipped for volume and are issued with lifetime printhead warranties or other cost saving benefits. The DCP360 and XID Retransfer series printers are best for large volumes.
5. What kind of durability do you need?
Depending on how employees will use their cards, the cards can experience wear and tear. Swiping cards through a reader day after day, for instance, causes more wear and tear on the card than a standard VIC (visual identification card) that will only be taken in and out of a wallet.
To protect cards and lengthen their lifespan, consider adding overlays or lamination to them during the printing process. Without either of these added coatings, a standard PVC badge will last 1-2 years.
6. Do you need special modules like chip encoding or for extra security?
Certian printers offer modules for encoding all sorts of smart cards. Different levels of security protection is also available. There is a wide span of features you can add to your printer to tailor it to your solution. We recommend chatting to a consultant to pin point which modules will be best for your application.
Adding ID card printers to your organization can save you cash as the money invested into high-quality equipment is offset quickly by the advantage by printing cards in-house, inexpensively and immediately. And with a little help, you can choose a highly reliable, effective plastic card printer quickly!
CardsPlus offers a variety of high quality printing equipment, with a high level of support. We’re available on 086 16 CARDS (22737) (South Africa) or +27 11 894 3914 (international) for a complimentary consultation. We look forward to serving you!