As the world begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses and schools are beginning to re-open with the goal of reaching full capacity. As part of this re-opening process, school administrators are assessing the current state of their equipment, and looking for areas where improvements may be necessary. A school’s ID card printer is one piece of equipment that is all-too-often overlooked, but a failing ID card printer can cause disaster during high-volume periods, such as the beginning of a new school year or semester. In this guide, we’ll be going over a few of our favorite ID card printers that we recommend for use in schools of all sizes. Our comprehensive guide to purchasing school ID card printers features ID card printers that are sure to fit any budget and card printing need, as well as all the supplies you’ll need to print professional-quality, durable school ID cards.
Why Are School IDs Necessary?
Identification cards have only become more essential to the proper functioning of a school as the years go by. School IDs function not only for identification, but are used to allow entry, to log into computer systems, and on some campuses, as a payment card. Investing in the best school ID card printer you can find may have an intimidating upfront cost, but in the long run you’ll find that it not only saves you money but it may save you the headache of having to upgrade if your needs change.
Why Upgrade my ID Card Printer?
Some school administrators have a “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude when it comes to ID card printers, and this is an understandable position to have if they’ve been happy with the performance of their current printer. The truth is, however, that many people have become complacent with their ID card printers, and aren’t aware of the reasons why choosing to upgrade can be the right decision. School ID card printer technology has changed quite a lot in the past few years, so take a moment to read our reasons why a printer upgrade is right for you.
What Can I Do With an Upgraded ID Card Printer?
Possibly the simplest reason to upgrade your printer is to upgrade its printing speed or capacity. Upgrading your card printer can help you prepare for an expected increase in student numbers, but can even be useful if your card printing needs are relatively stable. A faster printer can allow employees to continue on with other, more important work, and upgrading to a dual sided printer can free your employees from needing to flip cards manually to print on the opposite side.
Advances in ID card printer technology have greatly expanded what is possible with ID cards. The amount of data stored on an ID card is one factor that can be improved with a new ID card printer. Any card printer can apply a barcode, but the amount of information stored on a barcode is fairly limited. Upgrading your printer can allow you to print cards with magnetic stripes, or smart cards, which can store nearly any data your card users will need.
Our first recommendation is directed at school administrators looking for a budget friendly printer, or those working in institutions that don’t require the ability to print high-volumes of IDs quickly, such as a school serving a smaller student body. The Evolis Badgy200 is a supremely affordable ID card printer that prints professional-quality cards while taking up only a small amount of space.
- Full color cards in 38 seconds, monochrome cards in 11 seconds
- Input and output hopper capacity of 25 cards
- $699.00 price point and only a $0.10 cost per card for monochrome cards
Affordable Yet Professional
The Badgy200 prints cards in high resolution and with edge-to-edge printing that matches or surpasses the print quality of other, more expensive printers. It features a larger print head and ribbon to ensure that it prints to the very edge of the card, without leaving an unsightly margin.
Easy Setup, Small Footprint
One of the best features of the Badgy200 is its size. Coming in at only 3 pounds with a footprint smaller than a standard of paper, the Badgy200 can fit into even a crowded office. This small size also makes it a great option for on-the-go printing needs. Purchase a Badgy200 from Bodno and receive an included full-color YMCKO ribbon and 100 blank Bodno PVC Cards.
Simple Enough for Any Employee to Use
The Badgy 200 can save you money not only with its budget friendly price, but with its simple operating procedure. The 25-card capacity input and output trays are both easily within reach on the front of the printer, which also features LED buttons that display print status, ribbon and card alerts, and cleaning information. Changing the ribbon is simple, too. Snapping the ribbon-cassette into place takes just a moment, and the Badgy200 recognizes the new ribbon immediately.
The Zebra ZC350 is our next recommendation, and it’s one of our top choices because it combines groundbreaking printing speed with unmatched simplicity and ease of use. This printer is an excellent choice for larger schools or universities because it allows users to print high volumes of cards easily and at a speed faster than other similarly priced printers.
- Full color cards in 16 seconds and monochrome cards in only 3 seconds
- Priced starting at $1599.00
- Beautiful 300 dpi resolution with 300 prints per color ribbon
Simple to Use
Ready to print out of the box, the Zebra ZC350 is one of the easiest to use ID card printers of its class. The user-friendly interface is available in nine different languages and provides a sample view of how your card will look, eliminating the need for a test print, saving you time and money. With the Zebra ZC350, lengthy and frustrating troubleshooting processes are a thing of the past.
Superior Quality Cards with Advanced Security
Cards printed using a Zebra ZC350 come out quickly and look better than cards printed on nearly any comparable printer. Printing at a 300 dpi print resolution, this ID card printer produces stunning results exactly the way your designers intend them to look. The customizable encoding features of the Zebra ZC350 offers flexibility you won’t find elsewhere. Magnetic stripe, proximity, contact and contactless cards are all printable on the Zebra ZC350. The security features are government grade, with AES data encryption to protect sensitive data during printing and blocking access from unauthorized devices or applications.
Magicard 300 Dual Sided Silver Edition
Our number one recommendation for an ID card printer purchase for use in schools and universities is the Magicard 300 Dual Sided Silver Edition, and it’s clear from just a glance why this printer stands head and shoulders above the others.
- Full color cards in 23 seconds, monochrome cards in 6 seconds
- 300x300 dpi dye sublimation printing
- Holokote and Digital Shredding security features
Lightning Fast Set Up to Lightning Fast Printing
At just under eleven pounds, the Magicard 300 is truly punching above its weight class. A standard USB connection will allow the Magicard 300 to integrate into your existing computer network, so you can start printing immediately. This speedy machine can print full color single sided ID cards in just 23 seconds, with an even faster 6 second print speed for monochrome single sided cards. The Magicard 300 will help you process new students and employees without the need for any delay.
Ease of Use and Flexibility
Despite its professional results, you don’t need to be a professional level of training to print using a Magicard 300. The Magicard 300 is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS systems, and software updates are easier than ever. A 100-card feeder makes high volume printing seamless while the hand feeder simplifies single or rewritable card printing. Plus, high performance purpose-built materials make this printer uniquely resilient to wear and tear.
Professional Quality and Security
The Magicard 300 boasts a variety of print modes, from color dye sublimation to monochrome thermal printing, rewritable technology, and more. A 300x300 dpi resolution is combined with a wide color spectrum from YMCKO or YMCKOK dye films to produce crystal clear photos on student IDs and other cards.
The Magicard 300 also features Magicard’s patented HoloKote security technology, allowing you to print a secure watermark without the need for an additional laminate or ribbon. These watermarks are available in five default designs, or design and store up to four of your own custom designs.
Magicard 600 Dual Sided Silver Edition
While the Magicard 300 is our number one choice because of its balance of quality and value, the Magicard 600 Dual Sided Silver Edition is a great choice for consumers whose printing needs go beyond the limits of the Magicard 300.
- Full color cards in 18 seconds, monocrhome cards in 5 seconds
- LCD display to conveniently show print status
- 600x300 dpi reverse transfer printing
The Magicard 300 vs the Magicard 600
These two ID card printers were released in the same line, so their capabilities are somewhat similar. Both the Magicard 300 and Magicard 600 are able to print on the same variety of cards, from standard ISO 7811 magnetic stripe cards to today’s newest contact chip smart cards. They both also feature the same air-tight security features like HoloKote watermarks and Digital Shredding, as well as the professional-quality 300x300 dpi printing resolution. The Magicard 600, however, has a bit of an advantage over the Magicard 300 because it’s able to store up to ten custom HoloKote watermarks, allowing you more flexibility with your cards.
The greatest differences between the Magicard 300 and Magicard 600 are in their internet connectivity options and in their printing speeds. The Magicard 600 has the edge when it comes to connectivity: it allows ethernet connection just like the Magicard 300, but is also Wi-Fi enabled, so you can print without the need for a hardwired internet connection.
The printing speeds of the Magicard 600 give it the upper hand on the Magicard 300 as well. While the Magicard 300 can produce a monochrome card in 6 seconds and a full-color card in 23 seconds, the Magicard 600 does the same in 5 seconds and 18 seconds, respectively. These differences may seem small, but if your school requires high efficiency then the Magicard 600 is likely your best choice.
Essential Supplies and More
ID card printing isn’t just about the printers; a printer is nothing without the essential supplies. Of course, the most important supply is blank ID cards. These cards are available with a diverse assortment of capabilities and at varying prices. As the cards increase in storage capacity, the prices increase as well. You’ll also need to seek out supplies for your ID card printer, as well. Cleaning kits, upgrades, and both color and monochrome ribbons are specific for each model of printer. Once your ID cards are printed, a multi-use hole punch can allow your cards to be inserted into a lanyard or ID card holder.