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Insider Tips to Choose the Right ID Card Printe...

Insider Tips to Choose the Right ID Card Printer in 5 Minutes

Selecting the perfect ID card printer for your organization can be overwhelming with the myriad of features and options available. To help you navigate through these choices and find the ideal printer for your needs, we've distilled the decision-making process into eight essential factors. Here’s a straightforward guide to ensure you choose the right ID card printer with confidence.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call or message us. We understand the importance of getting this purchase right and are happy to assist you in making an informed decision.

1. Determine the Printing Technology: Direct-to-Card vs. Retransfer

Direct-to-Card (DTC) Printing:

  • Cost: More affordable option.
  • Speed: Faster printing.
  • Quality: Suitable for most organizations (over 90% use DTC). Prints are good for photos, logos, and text but may struggle with solid color blocks and edge-to-edge printing.

Retransfer Printing:

  • Cost: Higher initial and per-print cost.
  • Speed: Slower due to the two-step process.
  • Quality: Superior quality with edge-to-edge printing and fewer errors. Ideal for high-volume printing and environments requiring high reliability.

2. Single-Sided vs. Dual-Sided Printing

Single-Sided Printing:

  • Cost: Less expensive.
  • Usage: Manually flipping cards for dual-sided content can be time-consuming and prone to errors.

Dual-Sided Printing:

  • Cost: Adds $300-$400 to the printer’s cost.
  • Convenience: Automatically prints on both sides, saving time and reducing errors. Necessary for printing barcodes and other variable data on the reverse side.


  • Many printers can be upgraded from single-sided to dual-sided later, such as the Evolis Primacy 2, Magicard 300, and Fargo DTC4500e.

3. Lamination: Necessary or Not?

  • Not Always Needed: Modern ID cards often last years without lamination due to protective overlays and UV protection.
  • When to Consider Lamination: For cards that need to last exceptionally long (10+ years) or in harsh environments, such as universities or hospitals.
  • Cost: Lamination-capable printers are about $2,000 more.

4. Encoding Options: Barcodes, Door Access, Magnetic Stripes


  • Recommendation: Dual-sided printers are better for printing readable barcodes.
  • Software: Bodno software supports barcode creation.

Door Access Cards:

  • Printable Types: Smooth, glossy cards are typically printable; rough, matte clamshell cards are not.
  • Alternative: Use adhesive-backed PVC cards for clamshell cards.

Magnetic Stripes:

  • Feature: Ensure the printer supports magnetic stripe encoding if needed.
  • Note: Most printers cannot be upgraded with this feature post-purchase.

5. Security Features: Anti-Counterfeiting Measures

  • Holograms: Expensive and complex, requiring custom laminates.
  • Alternative: Custom secure watermarks (e.g., Magicard’s Holokote) offer a cost-effective solution with no per-card cost after setup.

6. Importance of ID Card Software

  • Functionality: Good software is crucial for designing and printing badges, connecting to databases, and managing records.
  • Recommendation: Bodno ID Card Software, available in different editions to suit various needs, with lifetime support included.

7. Assess Your Printing Volume

  • Print Speed: Important for large batches, but not critical for under 1,000 cards per year.
  • Volume Recommendations: Based on printer features, warranty, and durability. For high volumes, consider retransfer printers for reliability.

8. Support and Warranties

  • Importance: Reliable support is essential for smooth operation.
  • Our Offer: Bodno provides 24/7 free phone and email support, helping with setup, troubleshooting, and upgrades.

Need Help? Reach Out to Us!

We hope this guide simplifies your decision-making process. At Bodno, we’re dedicated to ensuring your long-term success with your ID badge printing needs. Contact us anytime for personalized assistance and start the conversation today!