Category Archives: Tip of the Month

ID card printer ribbons can be a confusing list of seemingly random letters if you don’t understand how they are named – so let the card printing experts at DiscountID help you out!

Quick Guide to Card Printing

To understand the different types of ribbons, you first need to understand how a card printer works.

Unlike the ink jet printer you use at home or in the office, a card printer doesn’t use liquid ink. Instead they use colored ribbons and a heated printhead; when the printhead goes over the ribbon the colors fuse with the card.

Common Ribbon Types

Monochrome ribbons are a single color, and print only in solids with no shadows or shades. The most popular monochrome color is black, but they are also available in blue, greed, red, metallic silver and gold, and more.

YMCK color ribbons are used to print everything else – the letters represent the Yellow, Magenta, Cyan, and Black panels of a color ribbon.

A YMCKO ribbon has the YMCK color panels PLUS a clear overcoat panel that adds some protection to your cards. This style of ribbon will print full color, black, and the overcoat on one side of a card.

A YMCKOK ribbon has the YMCKO panels for printing on one side of the card, plus an additional black panel to print on the back side of the card.

If you have a reverse transfer or laminating printer, you don’t want to use a ribbon with an overcoat panel. Instead you would use a YMCK ribbon for single-sided printing or a YMCKK ribbon for dual-sided printing.

Shop ID Printer Ribbons on DiscountID

Ready to start printing your cards? Shop all ID card printer ribbons on DiscountID, or find all the compatible ribbons for your printer with our Supply Finder tool.

To get the best print quality and prevent damage to your ID card printer, you should only use the cards, ribbons, and cleaning kits 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, and all you need to do is answer two questions. First, your printer brand; second, your printer model. That’s it!

If you aren’t sure which printer you have, the brand and model is usually on the front of the printer or the serial number on the bottom of the printer.

Try the DiscountID Ribbon & Supply Finder tool.

An ID card printer is the central piece you’ll need to print ID cards for your organization, but it isn’t the ONLY thing you’ll need to get started. Our Complete ID Card Systems have all the supplies you need to help streamline and simplify the process!

What Comes in a Complete ID System?

When you buy an ID card printer, you get just the printer and any power and USB cables it comes with. But what about the blank ID cards, printer ribbon, card design and database software, digital ID camera, and cleaning kit you also need?

That’s why we’ve created our Complete ID Card Systems – we take the guess work out of making sure you get all the supplies you need and guarantee they will work with your printer.

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DiscountID is proud to offer a wide range of ID card systems that meet the needs of both large and small businesses. Shop ID card system categories including single-sided systems, dual-sided systems, laminating systems, AlphaCard PRO series systems with built-in AlphaGuard watermark technology, and more.

DIDBlogImage_cameraAdding cardholder photos to your ID card designs make it easier to verify the cardholder is the person in the photo, improving your building’s security. When taking those photos, you’ll want to use some basic equipment to ensure that all your photos come out clear and uniform.

ID cameras are designed to work with your card design software, and are easy to use. They connect to your computer so your photo files are already saved there when you’re ready to design your cards.

A tripod will help you keep the camera level and steady, resulting in clear photos. By positioning the camera at the same height on the tripod you can also ensure your cardholder photos are uniform and easily identifiable.

Lighting is also important for taking clear photos – fluorescent overhead lighting will washing out the colors in your photos. If possible, take photos in natural light; if you need to take photos in an office, place a desk lamp near the person to off-set the fluorescent lighting.

Finally, a backdrop also helps your take uniform cardholder photos with the same colored background in every photo. Portable backdrops also allow you to take photos in any location.

ID card printers use colored ribbons of thin film to print your full color or monochrome card designs – but if these delicate ribbons rip, is it possible to fix them? Yes, and it’s a surprisingly simple fix!

How to Fix Your Ribbon

If your printer ribbon rips, you just need some clear tape to fix it – making this quick and easy to do in any office or workplace.

First, tape the two ends back together. Next, roll the taped section on to the used end of the ribbon. Load the ribbon back in your printer and you can continue printing! The reason this works is because you’re not printing with the broken section, you just need it to be taped back together so the ribbon will continue to spool as you print.

Shop all ID card printer ribbons on DiscountID.

Taking care of you blank card stock is just as important as maintaining your printer. Keeping your cards clean is vital for ensuring that you get the best quality prints each and every time you use your printer. Any flaws that are on the card stock can be transferred to your print job, giving you less than ideal results.

Make sure to keep your blank cards free from debris and dust. Any stray particles on the surface of a card can cause imperfections and flaws when you print. Dust and debris can also damage the print head and other printing mechanisms inside your ID card printer.

To keep your cards clean keep them in the case they came in, or in an airtight and watertight container. Look the cards over before printing and keep a dust cloth at hand to wipe the cards off if you notice any dust or debris.

Taking note of the card storage temperature is also important. Extreme heat or cold can damage PVC cards, making them more brittle and susceptible to snapping. Store your cards in a temperature-controlled area and make sure not to put them through drastic temperature changes.

Shop DiscountID’s wide range of blank card stock options.

To ensure peak performance from your ID card printer, just follow a few simple printer maintenance steps. We’ve gathered a few DiscountID general rules of thumb for maintaining your printer.

Clean your Printer Regularly

It’s good idea to clean your printer every time you change the ribbon. Cleaning kits often come with two important tools to do this – swabs and long alcohol-soaked cards.

The swabs are used to clean the printhead to remove dust and debris that may build up from the cards and the ribbons. Removing this dirt will help prevent streaky printing and damage to the printhead.

The long cards are inserted into the printer during the cleaning cycle and clean off the rollers as they go over the card, so any dust and debris they have picked up from cards is removed. This helps the rollers continue to accurately pick up and move cards through the printing process.

Along with cleaning the print head and rollers, make sure to clean the rest of the printer too. Use a can of compressed air, you can remove dust and debris from important printer mechanisms. This will help ensure that your cards won’t get jammed or have streaks.

Only use Recommended Supplies

Each manufacturer has cleaning kits developed specifically for use with their printers. While it may be tempting to use a discounted off-brand cleaning kit, this will only hurt your printer in the long run.

Shop all cleaning kits on DiscountID.

Verify that Everything is Aligned Correctly

Printer mechanisms that are misaligned can cause marring or streaks and even jam cards. Taking the extra time to make sure that all the machinery lines up will ensure professional looking prints.

WCR3237-600USBarcodes are an extremely common card feature because they can be printed by every ID card printer and encoded by almost all design software. But when you have to choose between 1D and 2D barcodes, do you know which one you need?

1D Barcodes

1D barcodes are the simple vertical line barcodes you see on cereal boxes, library books, and airline tickets. These barcodes hold small amounts of data and, depending on the style, can only hold up to 25 characters of data.

You may want to use 1D barcodes if you are printing basic ID cards without complicated uses, or your software only encodes 1D barcodes.

2D Barcodes & QR Codes

2D barcodes go far beyond the basic vertical lines of the 1D style. Designed with squares, dots, horizontal lines, or other patterns, 2D barcodes give you more options for customization. 2D barcodes can hold larger amounts of data, so these may be a good option if you need more than 25 characters. QR codes are the most commonly used types of 2D barcodes.

2D barcodes do require special barcode readers, so they may not work with your existing equipment. Not all card software can encode 2D barcodes, so make sure your software edition has this feature.

BlogImage_Standard-Badge-Lanyards-2137-50xxIf you require people to display their ID cards, ID accessories are a quick and easy way to keep the cards visible and easily accessible. These accessories are popular with employee ID programs, visitor management, schools, and more.

Why Display Cards

Keeping your ID cards visible goes a long way toward improving security at your business or organization – it helps security guards or doormen identify people as they entire the building, helps control access to secured or restricted areas, and identifies authorized visitors and guests.

If your cards are multifunctional and will be used to unlock doors, pay for parking or lunch, or check out materials, ID accessories will also keep the cards easily at hand.

Most Popular ID Accessories

There are many ID card accessories to choose from, but our most popular options are lanyards, badge reels, and strap clips.

Lanyards are worn around the neck, keeping the attached ID cards front and center. Available in a wide range of styles and materials, lanyards are extremely versatile. They can be used to hold multiple cards and other items including keys.

Badge Reels clip onto your cardholder’s clothing, so they can be worn in a variety of locations. The retractable cords allow users to pull the cards out to scan without taking off the reel. Badge reels typically only hold one ID card.

Strap Clips are clear plastic straps attached to a clip which also attaches to the cardholder’s clothing like a badge reel. Strap clips are often used for visitor and temporary programs.

did-quick-guide-to-handling-cardsID cards are the blank canvas of your ID card program, but did you know that how you handle them can have a huge impact on your print quality? Our ID experts have some quick tips to help you handle cards.

Card Storage

Keeping your cards protected from dust and other debris is the first step – any dust that’s on a card can potentially smudge or otherwise mess up your design. For best results, store your cards in the box in a clean, dry, air-tight environment.

Handle them ONLY by the Edges

In addition to dust, fingerprints can also cause printing problems – the oils on your fingers make it hard to print, so your fingerprints or smidges may show up! To avoid this, never touch the surface of your cards and only handle them by the edges as you load them into the printer hopper.

Wear Gloves

If you’re worried about getting the cards dirty or smudged, wearing gloves as you handle them is the best way to prevent accidentally touching them.

Shop all cards on DiscountID.