Photo ID Badges
Many, many industries and organizations rely on photo ID badges. Picture your wallet: think of all the different types of photo ID cards you have which have been personalized for you. Chances are you have a driver's license. You may have a photo ID card for work; you may have one for your gym. If you are a student, you'll have a plastic student ID card with your photograph and name. You may carry photo ID badges for membership clubs, rewards programs...
Printing Photo ID Badges
There are different ways to print images directly onto a plastic card. Two popular technologies are dye-sublimation printing and resin thermal transfer printing.
Dye sublimation technology produces amazing images that really look like photos. The length of a "dye sub" printer ribbon is divided into repeating groups of 3 separately colored panels. A thermal printhead heats this ribbon, and the dye on these panels is vaporized. Greater heat vaporizes more dye, resulting in a more saturated spot of color. The vapors blend on the card, producing a continuous gradation of tones, and an image which is breathtakingly realistic.
Resin thermal transfer printing is similar to dye sublimation printing, in that it uses a thermal printhead to transfer color from a section of printer ribbon to a blank card. However, with resin thermal transfer printing, the ribbon holds just one color of ink. The ink is resin based; when it hits the card surface, it immediately fuses with it. The result is an exceptionally sharp, durable image. This technology is responsible for the bar codes you see on some of those cards your wallet holds.