The ID Card Solutions we provide vary greatly in features, benefits and price. But large or small, every system is built on 3 common components: Card Printer, Software and Camera. Here is an overview of these components as well as some considerations on selecting the optimum solution for your needs. This overview is generic in nature and is not specific to any of the manufacturers and products we represent.
The card printers we provide print directly to plastic cards. Points of difference between the many models available include:
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- Durability – Printers are generally selected for light, medium, or heavy volume printing.
- Single-Side vs. Dual-Side Printing – A dual side printer prints both sides of the card in a single pass through the printer. Dual-sided cards can still be created with a single side printer by feeding the card through twice or by preprinting one side of each card. If all of your cards are going to have the same information on one side, you can request them to be pre-printed with the information.
- Magnetic Stripe Encoding – Cards with an integrated magnetic stripe (just like a credit card) can be encoded during the print process. This adds only a few seconds to the print process.
- Smart Card Encoding – Similar to magnetic stripe encoding, some printers can be configured for the encoding of smart cards.
- Card Lamination – Standard card printing places a clear overlay over the printed surface for minimal card protection against abrasion and UV light. Some printers can accommodate a card lamination station which adds an over-laminate up to 1.0 mil thick increasing the card protection up to 10 times. The overlaminate can also have holographic effects which add a visual security to your cards.
- Modularity – Some printers are built with modularity in mind. This means that a base level printer can be purchased initially and additional modules (i.e. dual-side printing, mag stripe encoding, lamination, etc.) added in the field at a later date as needed.
- Warranty – Standard printer warranties range from 1 to 3 years, and some include a Hot-Swap feature which provides a loaner printer should your printer require depot service.
Most ID software solutions provide two functions: 1) card design tools, and 2) a database for storing card holder information. Price differences between the many software products we carry are based on the available tools for these two functions, which vary greatly. Additional features include:
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- Importing and Exporting of Data – Typically, card holder data may already exist in a computer somewhere within an organization. This data can be imported into the ID software for easy lookup of persons for image capture and card printing.
- Networkability – With this feature, the card system database can be stored on a network server providing for consistent backup and multi-user configurations.
- Database Connectivity – Some software allow for a real-time connection with an existing customer database. This is different from exporting and importing of data as described above in that the ID software “attaches” to an existing database such as Excel, MS-Access, SQL-Server, or other. In this environment, new card holders entered into the existing database do not need to be exported to the ID database. The ID software pulls card holder data directly.
The cameras we provide utilize an interface to connect directly with the ID software. This offers mouse control over all camera functions including pan, tilt, zoom and many other camera features. It also allows for real-time adjustments (i.e. contrast, brightness and color adjustments) as needed for each photo after it’s taken and before it’s saved in the database. Once setup, it typically takes only 2 or 3 mouse clicks to capture a photo for each card. For tight budgets, an off-the-shelf digital camera will work but the process includes significantly more steps…manually take the picture, download the image to the PC and then select that file as the photo for that person. It works, but not recommended if a high output of card production is needed.
Supplies for your ID Card System include blank card stock, printer ribbon, and laminate (if used). Cards are available as PVC (standard) or PVC/Polyester for superior durability. Cards can include a magnetic stripe, smart chip, or can be printable proximity cards used for card access. Ribbon for printing full color one side or full color both sides is identified as YMCKO. Ribbon for printing full color one side and black back is identified as YMCKOK.
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Accessories for an ID Card System include:
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- Signature capture devices – Allowing card holder’s to place a digital image of their signature onto a card.
- Fingerprint capture devices
- Tripod for camera.
- Photo Backdrop – To give your photos a more professional, standardized look.
- Neck lanyards, badge clips, retractable clips, vinyl holders, etc. – Maybe you need to be able to see ID cards quickly and easily, or maybe you need easy access to ID cards, but need them out of the way while working, no matter which way you intend on holding your cards, we’ve got a solution for you.
- Printer Cleaning Kit- Printhead cleaning pens, cleaning card, and cleaning pads allowing you to maintain your printer so you’re less likely to need repairs.