ID card printers come with a wide variety of features so you can find one that meets your card printing needs. But do you know the key differences between low, mid, and high-volume printers?

Low-Volume Printers

Printers designed for low volume printing are ideal for small organizations without many employees or members to print cards for, so they do not need to print large batches of cards. This allows a small organization to save money, as low-volume printers are generally cheaper than their larger counterparts but still have options for encoding, Ethernet, and more.

The most basic low-volume printers only offer single-feed printing, where you manually feed in each card one at a time, like the AlphaCard PRO 100 or Zebra ZXP Series 1 printers.

Mid-Volume Printers

Mid-volume ID card printers work for the majority of card printing needs – their ability to batch print cards saves time and effort for any organization that needs to print multiple cards at a time without the slower printing of a single-feed printer.

These printers come in single or dual-sided printing, with options for encoding, Ethernet, and more. Their hoppers may range from 100 card input/30 card output like the AlphaCard PRO 500,  to the 100 card input/25 card output hoppers of the Datacard SD260, or up to 100 card input/40 card output hoppers of the IDP Smart-50.

High-Volume Printers

If you need to print large numbers of cards quickly and efficiently, you’ll want a high-volume ID card printer. Used by larger organizations like schools to print student and staff IDs at the start of each school year, these printers have larger hoppers to minimize down time between print jobs.

High-volume card printers are available with the standard single or dual-sided, encoding, and Ethernet options found with other card printers; they also tend to have more advanced options including lamination.

High-volume ID cards printers include the Zebra ZXP Series 7 with a 200 card input hopper and 100 card output hopper, the IDP Smart-70 with a 500 card input hopper and 100 card output hopper, and the reverse transfer Fargo HDP5600 with a 100 card input hopper and 200 card output hopper.

Zebra ID card printers come in a wide range of styles, from single-sided entry-level printers to advanced reverse transfer high-volume printers. DiscountID carries all the supplies you need from Zebra.

Zebra Printers

Zebra ID card printer are easy to use, reliable, and meet the needs of everyone from a small retail store printing loyalty cards to a large college printing student and employee ID cards. Choose from single or dual-sided, magnetic stripe encoding, and more.

Shop Zebra printers.

Zebra Systems

For the easiest printing experience right out of the box, go with a complete Zebra ID card system which comes with all the supplies you need to design and print your first cards. Our systems only include supplies, accessories, and software that is compatible with your printer so you can use everything without any hassle.

Shop Zebra systems.

Zebra Ribbons

To print your cards, you’ll need a Zebra printer ribbon. These ribbons come in a range of formats for single and dual-sided printing in both full color and monochrome. You should only use genuine Zebra ribbons with your Zebra card printer.

Shop Zebra ribbons.

Zebra Cleaning Kits

Cleaning your printer regularly is the key to making sure it works well for years to come – we recommend cleaning your Zebra printer every time you change the ribbon. You should only use the manufacturer recommended cleaning kits for your printer to prevent damage to the printer.

Shop Zebra cleaning kits.

If you’re using old ID card software, you’re not getting the best value from your ID card system. Try premium AlphaCard card design software, for PC or Mac users, today with a free six week trial.

AlphaCard ID Suite for PC

AlphaCard ID Suite Light is the entry-level edition, giving you basic card design and database options. This software uses a built-in database that can hold up to 200 records.

AlphaCard ID Suite Standard is the most popular edition, featuring a wide range of card design features and the option to connect an external database, or use the unlimited built-in database.

AlphaCard ID Suite Professional adds extra security and database features to your program, with fully supported biometrics and compatibility with MS SQL, MySQL, and SQLite databases.

AlphaCard ID Suite Elite is the most advanced edition, designed for large organizations that prize security. With this edition you can password protect your files, customize your user authorizations, and encode MIFARE cards.

AlphaCard Badge Builder for Mac

AlphaCard Badge Builder Basic is entry-level software with a built-in database that holds up to 300 records (100 if you store photos on your database). It comes with pre-designed card templates, background designs, Clipart, and shapes for fast and easy card designing.

AlphaCard Badge Builder Standard is the most popular edition, designed for use by small to mid-sized organizations. The Standard edition has an unlimited built-in database, and options to connect an external XLS, XLSX, CSV, or TXT database. Standard also includes a built-in image editor and image effects.

AlphaCard Badge Builder Professional has a wide range of design and database options including image acquisition through SKD, multi-layout card designs, and OLE objects and photos on database records. With Professional, you can connect an external MSAccess or SQLite database.

AlphaCard Badge Builder Elite is the most advanced edition with user account management, audit reporting, and search (query) records. With Elite, you also have an ODBC connection to an external database.

FREE Six Week Trial

For a full six weeks you can test all of the AlphaCard ID Suite or AlphaCard Badge Builder software editions to best decide which software meets your ID card needs.

Download the FREE software trial now!

From employee photo ID cards to visitor badges, access control cards for doors or computers, and payment cards for the cafeteria, keeping your cards easily accessible is important!

Guide to ID Badge Accessories

Lanyards – Lanyards are incredibly easy to use with any uniform or dress code because they are worn around your neck, not attacked to your clothing or pocket. Lanyards are vailable in safety breakaway styles (that open if the lanyard is caught or grabbed to avoid choking), a range of widths and materials, and a rainbow of colors.

Badge Reels – Almost as popular as lanyards, badge reels clip onto your clothing or pockets. The retractable cord ensures that your card snaps back into place after you’ve swiped it, so it’s never in your way. Badge reels are available in a range of colors and shapes, and heavy duty reels are designed to withstand active use.

Strap Clips – Commonly used with visitor ID badges and other temporary card programs, strap clips are small plastic strips that snap closed to secure your ID badge and then clip onto your clothing.

Pins & Magnets – Designed to attached directly to your card, most pins and magnets use an adhesive to securely attack to the back of an ID card. This makes them a great option for generic visitor badges that don’t have the visitor’s information and will be reused for future visitors, or for badges you don’t plan to replace often.

Shop all ID accessories on DiscountID.

We are excited to announce that the new AlphaCard PRO series ID card printers are now available at DiscountID! Each PRO printer comes with built-in AlphaGuard watermark technology for advanced visual card security, an industry-leading warranty with Pro-Xchange, and a free year of AlphaCarePlus service and support.

AlphaCard PRO Series Printers

The AlphaCard PRO 100 is an entry-level ID card printer, designed for one-off card printing for small organizations. The PRO 100 has a three year manufacturer warranty.

The AlphaCard PRO 500 is a mid-level ID card printer with options for single or dual-sided ID card printing and a 30 card output hopper for small batch printing. The PRO 500 has a four year manufacturer warranty.

The AlphaCard PRO 700 is the most advanced option with built-in Custom AlphaGuard watermark technology (a $598 value); this allows your organization to design a watermark that is unique to your cards, making them even easier to identify. The PRO 700 has a four year manufacturer warranty.

AlphaCard PRO Series Photo ID Card Systems

Each AlphaCard PRO series photo ID card system comes with all the supplies you need to start printing cards right out of the box. You’ll get a printer, software, blank cards, printer ribbon, and more.

AlphaCard PRO printers are compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems. If you have a Windows computer, choose the AlphaCard ID Suite software. If you have a Mac computer, choose the AlphaCard Badge Builder software.

AlphaCard PRO Series Supplies

All AlphaCard PRO printers use genuine AlphaCard supplies to help you get the best print quality. Choose from a variety of full color and monochrome ribbons and cleaning kits.

To get the best print quality from your ID card printer, you should only ever use the parts recommended by the manufacturer. Not sure which supplies work with your printer? Our DiscountID Supply Finder tool is here to help!

Using the Supply Finder takes just seconds – simply select the printer brand from the first drop down, then your printer model from the second drop down.

Try it today for a faster, easier supply ordering process!

The DiscountID Ribbon & Supply Finder tool.

Summer vacation is over and everyone is back from exciting travels, making fall the perfect time to review your ID card system and update as necessary. DiscountID has everything you need!

Prep Your Printer

If your printer sat unused for the summer, you’ll want to clean it before you print your next batch of ID cards – dust can build up and cause problems with the print quality and damage the internal parts of your printer.

Use the Supply Finder to find your printer’s specific cleaning kits.

Update Your Accessories

ID accessories can fade and get worn out after years of use – is it time to update your accessories? With a wide range of lanyards, badge reels, badge holders, clips, pins, and magnets, you can find the perfect accessory to update your program and keep your IDs easily at hand.

Shop all ID accessories.

Train New Staff

All DiscountID customers get free lifetime email support with your printer, software, or complete ID system. You can email our technical support experts at

If you need more support, or need to train new staff on how to use the printer software, we offer remote training sessions and assistance with card design, database setup, record management, and more.

Training sessions are available for $150 per hour, and phone support can be purchased by the hour at $150 as well. See more details about our support plans.

The most common ID cards are CR80, 30mil cards – that may sound complicated, but it just means a card the same size as your credit card! While blank ID cards come in many sizes, that’s the most popular.

PVC Cards

CR80 cards measure 3.375” by 2.125”. The 30mil part of the card description is how thick the card is – in this case, a normal card is 30 millimeters thick.

Standard PVC and composite cards in the CR80 size are the most commonly used ID cards, because they fit everything – all card printers can print on them, they fit in standard size badge holders, and require no specialized supplies.

Are Other Sizes Available?

Yes, blank ID cards come in other sizes! Some cards are thinner or thicker than the standard 30mil cards, and some cards are smaller (CR79) or larger (CR100) than a CR80 credit-card size card.

Not every ID card printer is compatible with these non-standard sizes, so be sure to check your printer’s technical specifications first if you want to use them.

A Note on Access Control Cards

Access control cards have embedded technology in them that allows the card to communicate with the door lock system – but this embedded technology doesn’t make the normal cards any thicker. This allows you to print on your prox cards.

Specialized clamshell cards are thicker than normal, and cannot be run through a card printer. If you have clamshell cards and want to customize them, you’ll need to print an adhesive-backed card and apply it to the clamshell card.

A complete ID card system from DiscountID is the best way to make sure you’re getting a high quality ID card printer and all the supplies you need for printing your cards, right out of the box!

What Comes in a System?

Every complete ID card system from DiscountID has these items in it:

– An ID card printer

– Card design software

– Full color printer ribbon

– Blank PVC or composite cards

By purchasing a complete system you can be sure you won’t forget an essential supply or accidentally select an item that’s not compatible with your printer.

Shop all ID card systems on DiscountID.

placeholder_ribbonsID card printers use colored ribbons to print your designs, instead of the traditional ink cartridges you use in desktop printers. With so many types of ribbons available, knowing what a ribbon name means will make it easier to find the ribbons you need!

How Ribbon Names are Formatted

Printer ribbon names indicate what color panels that ribbon has – ribbons are either full color, which can print a rainbow of colors, or monochrome, which can only print a single color.

Y – Yellow

M – Magenta

C – Cyan

K – Black

O – Overlay

Most Common Ribbons

YMCKO – This standard ribbon is used to print most cards and is designed for single-sided printers. If you use it in a dual-sided printer you can print full color on both sides, but you’ll get half the ribbon yield.

YMCKOK – This is the standard ribbon for dual-sided printing. This style of ribbon will print full color on the front and monochrome black on the back.

In addition to full color ribbons, there are monochrome ribbons that often come in black, white, green, blue, red, and metallic gold and silver. These ribbons can only print in a single color.

Specialized Ribbons

There are also specialized ribbons used to print cards and designs beyond the normal colors.

F – Fluorescent, also called UV (only visible with a UV light)

T – Topcoat, also called Overlay

I – Inhibitor (prevents printing in a specific area of the card)

UV – Ultraviolet, also called Fluorescent (only visible with a UV light)

Shop all ID card printer ribbons on DiscountID.