Ever think of how companies issue their staff IDs instantly?
Is there an economical printer that allows you to print on the spot?
Is it too costly to have such a printer?
We have immediate solution for you!
Card printers are categorized under 2 different types, Direct Thermal Card Printer or Thermal Retransfer Printer.
Both have its own pros and cons.
Let us do a simple comparison below before we move into individual details.
Direct Thermal Card Printer
- More economically friendly
- More compact in size
- Wider range of brands to select
- Faster printing speed
- Ideal for monochrome printing
Thermal Retransfer Card Printer
- Sharper image (600dpi)
- Allow micro-text printing (600dpi version)
- Print images spans the entire card
- Suitable for contact / contactless card body
- Able to print on non-PVC substrates
How to decide what printers suit your application best?
Answer these few questions and you can easily narrow down which printer is more suitable for you!
- Is budget a concern for you?
- Is majority of your printing monochrome?
- Do you use pre-printed cards for your print jobs?
- Do you estimate to print less than 500pcs of cards per year?
- Are you printing on normal PVC cards?
If your answers to the 5 questions above is all Yes, then Direct Thermal Card Printer will be more suitable for you.
However if you require additional pointers as seen below, then Thermal Retransfer Card Printer might be a better option for you.
- Your card is either a smart contact/contactless card
- Print coloured images
- Varying backgrounds of your card
- Require to print micro-text and some other security features
- Print quality and sharpness is a concern
find out more about the different card printers:
Rewritable Card Printers
What are Rewritable Card Printers?
Rewritable printing technology does not require a ribbon to personalize cards. The card itself holds a thermosensitive material that becomes visible when heated to 356°F (180°C) temperature and then quickly cooled.
Any color pattern will be erased by applying a lower temperature, generally within the range of 230-320°F (110-160°C).
This method takes advantage of two chemicals that interact with each other according to selected temperature thresholds. This heating/cooling process is handled thanks to a thermal head.
What are the benefits of Rewritable Card Printers?
- No cost relating to ribbons
- Cards can be reused up to 500 times.
2) Efficient printing features:
- Data can be edited on the spot, whenever needed.
- Can be printed on cards very quickly
- Visible at a glance for increased interactivity with customers.
3) Multiple applications:
Suitable for magnetic stripe and contactless applications.
Retransfer Card Printers
What are Retransfer Card Printers?
Retransfer printing technology uses a two-step process by first printing the color images first onto a thin, clear substratum, then transferring heat to the surface of a PVC, polycarbonate or composite card complete with the printed YMCK image.
The printhead in a retransfer printer never makes contact with the card’s surface, unlike direct-to-card technology.
What are the benefits of Retransfer Card Printers?
1) Increased durability
With the colour printed on the retransfer film’s underside instead of directly on the card, the image is protected from direct contact with ID cardholders, wallets, magnetic stripe or contact chip machines by that transparent film.
Thus, the card’s initial quality & colour remains much longer than most direct-to-card prints.
2) Print consistency
Because the printed retransfer film is a known and controlled substratum, print quality is more consistent than direct-to-card technology where the variable surface of the PVC card or slightly raised areas such as an embedded contact chip can affect print performance.
3) Designed for volume and long-life
The printhead used in a retransfer printer never touches the card’s surface, reducing the likelihood of damage or failure. The printhead which direct-to-card printers use can be subjected to dust and dirt on the card surface or uneven / poorly built PVC cards.
If these cards are used with a retransfer printer, there will be no direct harm to the printhead and there will be no impact on the print quality. This is because all the printing takes place between the printhead and the retransfer film, after which the film is then transmitted to the card surface through heat.
When the film is transferred to the surface of a smart card with an integrated chip – the film only adheres to the card surface’s plastic fields – ensuring that the chip section is always smoothly cut out of the overall print.
4) Print over the edge of the card
Retransfer technology utilizes a slightly wider film as a bleed margin – this spreads beyond the top of the card, leaving no white margin whatsoever when it is transferred to the card’s surface.
What are Direct Card Printers?
The direct-to-card printers print the image directly onto the surface of a PVC or a composite card. In this case, the printhead comes in direct contact with the surface of the card to deliver the pigment.
What are the benefits of Direct Card Printers?
Direct-to-card printers are typically cheaper than retransfer models. This is important for companies with a smaller budget.
Ongoing operation of direct-to-card printers is also somewhat less costly because they do not incur the extra retransfer film costs.
You’ll only need the ribbon and the blank cards for direct-to-card printing and these savings can add up.