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Card printer ribbons come in a wide range of styles – if you are new to ID card printers, do you know which ribbon is the right one? Use this handy guide to understand ribbons and when to use them.

Quick Guide to Ribbon Names

ID card printers use YMC colors – or yellow, magenta, and cyan – to print your designs. Those three colors, plus a black panel, are the key to every type of ribbon.

Y = Yellow

M = Magenta

C = Cyan

K = Black

In addition, most will include a clear overlay (O) panel to help protect your cards.

Common Ribbon Types & When to Use Them

The two most common types of ribbons are single and dual-sided full color ribbons.

A YMCKO ribbon will print full color plus black and the overlay, on one side of the card. Use this ribbon if you are printing a single-sided card design that needs full color.

A YMCKOK ribbon will print full color plus black and the overlay on one side of the card, and plain black on the back side. Use this ribbon if you are printing a dual-sided card design that does not need full color on the back. If you do need full color on both sides you can use a YMCKO ribbon, but your yield (the number of cards you can print) will be cut in half.

Monochrome ribbons print only a single color, and come in colors like black, red, green, and blue. Use a monochrome ribbon if you need to print in a single color with no shades or shadows.

Shop Ribbons on DiscountID

DiscountID carries all the ribbons and other printing supplies you need from major manufacturers including AlphaCard, Fargo, Evolis, Zebra, IDP, Datacard, and Magicard. Shop all ribbons and supplies on our website.

Looking to add some shine and fun to your ID card program? Fashion accessories make it easy to access your badges and look good, and these rhinestone lanyards and reels are fun just in time for New Years!

Rhinestone lanyards come in packs of 10, available in five sparkly colors – choose from blue, clear, purple, pink, or red. These lanyards are 3/8″ flat lanyards, 36″ long, with a lobster claw swivel hook attachment.

Rhinestone badge reels come in packs of 25, and are available in four fun colors – choose from black, blue, pink, or purple. The reels measure 32mm in diameter with a 34″ cord and a belt clip to attack to your clothing.

Not looking for rhinestone lanyards or reels? Shop our wide selection of ID accessories in a range of colors and styles.

Do you need to print large numbers of ID cards in a quick and efficient way? We suggest trying out batch printing, where you print cards in large batches – this works for a large number of card design styles.

What is Batch Printing?

To batch print your cards, just print a batch of cards (often the number of cards your printer’s card hopper will hold) all at once!

Especially popular for dual-sided cards that all have the same design on the back, like a school ID card or library card that has an address to return a lost card, this allows you to quickly print one side of the card that’s the same for every card. Then you can print the front side of the card, with the student or cardholder’s information, as needed without having to print on both sides of the card.

If your cards don’t have any unique cardholder information you need to add later, you can still batch print cards. Just print the cards in large runs before you need them, so you’ll always have cards ready when you need them.

ID card printers with large hoppers, like the AlphaCard PRO 700 which has a 100 card input hopper and 70 card output hopper (so you can print 100 cards before stopping to load more) are designed for batch printing.

Visually secure cards is a popular way to improve security – using distinct designs and security features, you can make your cards easy to identify as authentic and harder to tamper with or duplicate.

Why Choose AlphaCard for Secure Printing

Every AlphaCard PRO series ID card printer comes with built-in AlphaGuard watermark technology, allowing you to print a holographic-style watermark directly on your cards. And even better, the AlphaGuard technology doesn’t add any costs or require any special equipment!

How AlphaGuard Works

Using the clear overcoat panel in a YMCKO, YMCKOK, or KO ribbon, the AlphaCard PRO printer “burns” the hologram-like watermark design over your printed cards. This allows the design to be easily seen when light is reflected off the card, but doesn’t interfere with your ability to see the card design.

For the PRO 100 and PRO 500 printers, you can choose from four built-in AlphaGuard designs which repeat in a 4×6 grid over your card: Secure Shield Grid, Globe Grid, Geometric Box Grid, and Wavelength Grid.

For the PRO 700, you have five built-in AlphaGuard designs: Secure Shield Grid, Globe Grid, Geometric Box Grid, 3D Box Grid, and an Intricate Universe Full-Card design. With the PRO 700, you can also design a Custom AlphaGuard, included FREE with your purchase (a $589 value).

Shop AlphaCard PRO Printers

AlphaCard PRO series printers at DiscountID come with all the supplies you need to start printing high quality, visually secure cards right out of the box. Every system comes with AlphaCard ID Suite software, but you can upgrade your system to include the Mac-compatible AlphaCard ID Builder software if you use a Mac computer.

Choose from these popular systems:

AlphaCard PRO 100 Starter System with AlphaCard ID Suite Basic software

AlphaCard PRO 100 System with AlphaCard ID Suite Light software

AlphaCard PRO 500 System with AlphaCard ID Suite Light software

AlphaCard PRO 700 System with AlphaCard ID Suite Light software

ID lanyards are the most popular ID accessory for a good reason – they are easy to use, work with every type of badge and card, and come in a wide range of styles. Shop all our popular lanyard options!

Shop Lanyards by Attachment Type

The attachments on lanyards are designed to work with slot punched cards, or cards placed in a badge holder. If you want a specific type of attachment due to functionality, you can shop by attachment type. Some of our more popular attachments include:

Bulldog clips to keep your badges facing forward & easily open and close

Split rings to easily hold an ID card, keys, and more

Swivel hooks for quickly and easily attaching to cards

Wide plastic hooks for keeping your badges facing forward

Shop by Lanyard Color

If you’re looking for lanyards in a specific color to match your business logo or school mascot, or to help identify different types of cardholders, you can search for lanyards by color. Our most popular colors include:

Black lanyards

Navy blue lanyards

Red lanyards

Royal blue lanyards

Shop Fashion Lanyards

Our fashion lanyards give you all the convenience of a lanyard, but with more of an eye toward style. Fashion options include:

Rhinestone lanyards in blue, pink, purple, red, and clear

Neon lanyards in green, blue, orange, pink, purple, and yellow

Chevron printed lanyards in black, emerald green, Monaco blue, and nectarine

Paint splatter printed lanyards with a breakaway clip and swivel hook attachment

Organizations on a tight budget can still get a powerful ID card system – our best budget systems, rounded up below, include a printer, software, and all the supplies you’ll need to get started.

What Comes in a System?

Every ID card system from DiscountID includes all the supplies you need to start printing cards right out of the box. Systems include:

– An ID card printer

– Card design software

– Blank cards

– A full color printer ribbon

– A digital camera for taking ID photos

Best Systems on a Budget

These budget systems are designed for small organizations who don’t need to heavily customize or upgrade their printer.

AlphaCard PRO 100 Starter System – The most affordable system at only $998, this system includes the AlphaCard PRO 100 printer but does not come with a digital ID camera.

AlphaCard PRO 100 System – This system also features the entry-level AlphaCard PRO 100 ID card printer, but does include the digital ID camera if you need to take cardholder photos.

Fargo C50 System – This compact Fargo C50 printer is a single-sided printer with a 50 card input hopper for organizations that need to print small batches of cards.

Fargo DTC1250e System – With a larger hopper (100 cards) and faster print speeds, this Fargo DTC1250e printer system is the next step up from the basic C50 system.

Zebra ZXP Series 1 System – The ZXP Series 1 printer is extremely compact, ideal for traveling if you need to print your ID cards on the go.

Your ID cards take time, effort, and money to produce – protect your cards with badge holders so they last longer, allowing your organizations and cardholders to get the most use out of their ID cards!

Clear Flexible Badge Holders

Clear flexible badge holders are the most common type, available in a wide range of styles including vertical, horizontal, archive quality, clip on, magnetic, and more.

Color Flexible Badge Holders

Colored flexible badge holders come in a range of colors including black, red, green, blue, yellow, and white – these different colored holders can be used to help identify different groups of cardholders such as employees, visitors, and contractors.

Rigid Badge Holders

Rigid badge holders are more durable than the flexible styles, and provide more protection from bending or snapping.

If you want to increase security in your building without adding a lot of cost or complications to your ID card system, try temporary visitor badges with designs that appear once the badges expire! These makes it easy for anyone to spot a visitor who is no longer allowed in the building.

Expiring Visitor Badges

Expiring visitor badges, like these ONEstep TIMEbadges or these clip on expiring visitor badges, have a distinct red line design that shows up one day after you’ve issued the badge to a visitor. They are easy to fill out (just write in the visitor’s name) and help you spot unauthorized visitors.

Reusable Expiring Badges

If you want more durable badges that can be reused, try VOIDbadge visitor ID badges with expiring TIMEtoken stickers. To use, apply an expiring visitor sticker on the badge – in one day the badge will expire. Then just remove the sticker and replace it with a new one the next time you issue that badge!

School Visitor Badges

These school-specific expiring visitor badges feature a green apply design that appears once the badge has expired.

To print your ID cards, your printer requires some basic supplies – blank cards, color or monochrome ribbons, cleaning kits, and more. We have all the supplies you need from every major manufacturer.

Shop Supplies by Manufacturer

Shop all the supplies you need for printing high quality ID cards including full color ribbons, monochrome ribbons, reverse transfer film, lamination film, cleaning kits, and more:

AlphaCard ribbons and supplies

Datacard ribbons and supplies

Evolis ribbons and supplies

IDP ribbons and supplies

Fargo ribbons and supplies

Magicard ribbons and supplies

Zebra ribbons and supplies


Cleaning kits

DiscountID Supply Finder

Not sure which products are compatible with your ID card printer? We can help – the Supply Finder tool makes it easy to find everything you need. Just select your printer manufacturer and model!

Try the Supply Finder.

AlphaCard PRO series ID card printers come in three styles, all with built-in AlphaGuard watermark technology for visually secure cards. DiscountID carries all the supplies you need from AlphaCard.

AlphaCard Printers

AlphaCard PRO series ID card printers are designed to give you high quality, visually secure cards without the higher costs or extra materials other printers require. All three models (the PRO 100, PRO 500, and PRO 700) feature built-in AlphaCard watermark technology so you can print a holographic-style design over your finished cards – and with the PRO 700, you can also design your own Custom AlphaGuard at no additional cost!

AlphaCard PRO series printers also include industry-leading manufacturer warranties, Pro-Xchange replacement program, and a free year of AlphaCarePlus service and support.

Shop AlphaCard printers.

AlphaCard Systems

For the easiest printing experience right out of the box, go with a complete AlphaCard ID card system which comes with all the supplies you need to design and print your first cards. And each system includes industry-leading AlphaCard software – AlphaCard ID Suite for PC users, or switch to AlphaCard ID Builder for Mac.

Our systems only include supplies, accessories, and software that is compatible with your printer so you can use everything without any hassle.

Shop AlphaCard systems.

AlphaCard Ribbons

To print your cards, you’ll need an AlphaCard printer ribbon. These ribbons come in a range of formats for single and dual-sided printing in both full color and monochrome. Your AlphaCard printer will use the overcoat panel to print your AlphaGuard watermark design on your cards.

You should only use genuine AlphaCard ribbons with your AlphaCard card printer.

Shop AlphaCard ribbons.

AlphaCard Cleaning Kits

Cleaning your printer regularly is the key to making sure it works well for years to come – we recommend cleaning your AlphaCard 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 AlphaCard cleaning kits.

AlphaCard Printer Parts

DiscountID also carries all the printer parts, upgrade kits, and replacement parts you need to keep your AlphaCard PRO series printer running in top shape.

Shop AlphaCard printer parts.