Printing ID cards work well when you have it set up as a simplified, one-touch solution where a blank card goes in, and a beautifully rendered one comes out. That, however, is not the way it always works in the realm of ID card printers. They are technically very similar to regular paper printers, sure, but when picking one out, you must exhaust every possibility even down to the smallest features.

Considerations

  • Dual-sided printing vs. one-sided printing
  • Lamination
  • Smart card encoding
  • Magnetic stripe encoding
  • Monthly print requirement

Those are the basic factors which every card printer buyer should check in order to narrow down options. However, there are even more specific questions that needs asking: do you need over-the-edge printing capability or the edge-to-edge printing provision?

Over-the-Edge

This method leaves no observable border surrounding the edges of the card that comes out of the printer. It is seen as an option in reverse-transfer or retransfer printers. These are unlike the direct-to-card variety, in that the print head does not touch the surface of the card; instead, it prints the image on top of a thin film, when is then attaches to the card surface. This film fuses into place, and there is no border visible after that.

This type of printing is less affordable because of the need to buy and replenish the supply of transfer films. One film is required for each side of a card that needs printing done on it. That said, Over-the-edge printing does minimize damage by making sure the print head does not touch the plastic of the card. Edge-to-edge printing also makes white-bordered cards look less professional overall.

Edge-to-Edge

This print style makes a slender border around the card's surface, which is actually an area where printing has not been done. Most card stocks are white these days, which means this border is by extension the same color oftentimes. Similarly, a black card would be left with a black border after passing through an edge-to-edge printer. The Evolis Badgy100 is one machine that prints in this way.

Edge-to-edge trails behind in terms of print quality, and where it saves money, it also raises an issue of heat potentially being transferred from the print head to the uncovered card surface. For someone who is very concerned with how good and classy their ID cards look, edge-to-edge may not be the best option to go with.