ID Card Printers: Supplies Buyers Guide

Current ID card printers use different technologies, including RFID, magnetic stripes and barcodes. There are different types of printer supplies that shoppers must be aware of to make the right purchasing decision.

In addition to understanding the various options available, buyers must ask themselves some pertinent questions to help them identify their specific needs. The following questions will help in determining the right type of ID card printer and the print method used among other features.

  • For what reasons are the cards required?
  • How many cards will be printed per day?
  • Will printing be done on both sides of the cards?
  • What encoding options are required?
  • Should the ID cards be secure or durable?

Besides selecting the right ID card printers, users must buy different supplies to make the printers functional. Here are the common supplies almost every printer owner will need.

ID Card Printers

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PVC Cards

ID cards are generally printed on PVC or plastic cards because of their durability. It is also relatively easy to add required security features to the plastic cards. Although there are cards of different sizes meant for different purposes, the most common size is CR-80 of 30 mil thickness, which is the same size as a credit card. Thinner cards may also be used, often with adhesive backs, to design proximity cards. It is important to have sufficient stock of PVC cards.


These are thin, clear layers that are bonded to the ID cards to make them even more durable. The overlaminates also provide more security by protecting against tampering and counterfeiting.

Printer Ribbons

The printer ribbon is among the printer supplies that need to be replaced often. The rate of wear will depend on such factors as brand, quality and printing volume. Most printers use multi-panel color ribbons that fuse to the PVC cards through the dye sublimation method. The replacement ribbons must be those recommended for the type of ID card printer used.


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The printheads are the most sensitive and important parts of ID card printers. Although the printheads do not wear out as often as the ribbons, they eventually need to be replaced.

Card Creation Software

While some people use programs like MS Word or Photoshop to design ID cards, software specifically meant to design the cards make the process easier and faster. Printer manufacturers usually include card creation software but users can still find others for more versatility.

Cleaning Supplies

These are among the cheapest types of printer supplies but they play a central role in maximizing the potential of ID card printers. For example, replacing the printhead is relatively costly yet regular cleaning suffices to prevent possible damage.

ID card printer supplies are crucial to the proper functioning of any ID card system. Manufacturers recommend specific supplies for particular printer models.

Image by innovate360 and licensed through Creative Commons.

Becky Fischer is a sales rep for, an e-retailer carrying the top lines of ID card printers.  Shop the latest identification products and full id creation packages from today.

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