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 support@discountid.com.

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.

Schools are more often requiring their students and staff to wear their ID cards to increase security, and having an easy way to display those cards is essential to successfully rolling out a new program.

ID Accessories for Students

Whether your students wear uniforms or casual clothes, lanyards are the easiest way to wear ID cards with any style of clothing.

Lanyards are worn around the neck, with many styles that help improve safety and security including lanyards with wide plastic hooks that keep ID cards facing out and breakaway lanyards that will spring open if the lanyard is grabbed or caught on something to prevent injuries.

ID Accessories for Teachers & Staff

Along with lanyards, ID badge reels are popular with teachers and school staff. Badge reels are easy to use with any clothing from casual to a uniform, but allow teachers and staff to move them around to more convenient placement than a lanyard which always hangs in front.

Reels have several attachment options, most commonly a belt clip that easily slides onto pockets or a swivel clip that attaches to any clothing. No-twist badge reels keep ID cards facing forward because they only fit together one way.

ID Accessories for Volunteers

For visitors who need to display temporary IDs, the best accessories are clip-on ID badge holders or ID badge strap clips.

Reusable badge holders, like those with clips or those with magnetic attachments, are easy to take on and off when visitors arrive and leave, and allow the school to reuse the holders throughout the school year without relying on an adhesive name badge that can easily fall off.

School ID BadgeSchools are out for the summer, which means school districts across the country are getting ready for school to start in the fall. Do you have all the supplies and ID accessories you need to start the year?

Complete Photo ID Systems

If your school is looking to update or replace an old ID card system, DiscountID has many great options at low prices. Shop our selection of ID card systems and find the best systems from leading manufacturers including Magicard, Datacard, Fargo, IDP, Evolis, and Zebra.

Complete ID card systems are a great option because they contain everything you need to get started: a printer, software, blank cards, and ribbon.

Student & Staff Card Accessories

If your school requires teachers, staff, and students to display their ID cards, you’ll need an ID card accessory. Lanyards are always popular because they work with any style of clothing from casual to uniforms, and come in a wide range of colors, styles, and patterns.

If you want something that prevents the ID card from hanging down and potentially getting in your way, try a badge reel. These easily attach to your clothing using a traditional clip or pocket clip.

Visitor IDs

For security purposes, most schools now require all visitors to check in with the front office and get a visitor badge when they enter the building.

These expiring visitor management cards let you know instantly if the visitor is authorized or not – once the card has expired it will show the expiration pattern and students, staff, and security personnel can report the person with an expired pass.

 

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Do you know what style of blank cards you need? With a wide range of options, there’s a card for almost every need; by knowing how you’ll use your cards, you can find the best card material.

Standard Cards

Blank cards come in a wide range of sizes, colors, and styles. Standard plain blank ID cards are made from PVC plastic, which are the most commonly used cards. If you are printing cards in a dye sublimation printer with no lamination, this is the best card for you.

Sometimes card are made from a PVC/Poly plastic combo – this makes the cards more durable, so they can withstand higher heat during the printing process. You’ll want to use composite cards if you have a reverse transfer printer, or laminate your cards.

Shop PVC cards. Shop composite cards.

Encoded Cards

Encoded cards are designed to store data directly on the card in some way, including magnetic stripe cards, smart cards, RFID chip cards, and proximity cards.

These types of cards have a wide range of uses from school ID cards that pay for lunch and checking out library books to building key cards, time and attendance tracking cards, mass transit passes for the bus or subway, gift cards, and more.

Shop access control cardsShop magnetic stripe cards.

Rewritable Cards

Rewritable cards can only be used with rewritable ID card printers. With these cards you can print on a card, erase it, and print it again – up to 500 times per card!

The limitation for rewritable cards is their color options – you can only print in black or blue monochrome.

Shop rewritable cards.

 

When you look at an ID card printer descriptions, often one of the first details often listed is the printing technology. But do you know the difference is between dye sublimation and reverse transfer printers, and why it matters?

Dye Sublimation Printing

Dye sublimation printing works by using a heated print head to print the design directly on the card’s surface using the colored or monochrome panes from your printer ribbon – this type of printing may also be called Direct to Card printing.

Dye sublimation printers, like the Datacard SD260, are the most common types of ID card printers on the market, giving you the widest range of price points and feature options.

Reverse Transfer Printing

Reverse transfer printers, like the Fargo HDP5600, use a different printing style – in these printers, the card design is first printed onto a clear film and that film is then applied to the surface of the ID card.

The benefit of the reverse transfer process is in the added quality and durability it gives cards; these printers are capable of printing high definition images and use true over-the-edge printing because the film is larger than the actual ID card. Additionally, these cards are more resistant to scratches and wear than a card from a dye sublimation printer.

The trade-off with a reverse transfer printer is a slower print speed and higher cost due to the additional materials used for printing.

DiscountID carries a wide range of card printers, including dye sublimation and reverse transfer printers. Shop all ID card printers on DiscountID.

If you have a Mac computer, we have added new Mac-only software to DiscountID – AlphaCard ID Builder for Mac! Available in four editions, ID Builder has a wide range of features and options.

AlphaCard ID Builder Editions

With four software editions, it’s easy to find an ID Builder for every need.

AlphaCard ID 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 ID 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 ID 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 ID 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 Software Trial

If you want to try out AlphaCard ID Builder, download the free six-week trial today! This free trial works exactly like the full version of the software, except “DEMO” is printed across any cards you print. This trial allows you to try out all four versions of the software.

Once your trial is over, any card design and database information you created will be transferred over to your full edition of the software.

Download the free trial of AlphaCard ID Builder for Mac.

The difference between a single-sided and a dual-sided printer is whether or not the printer will automatically print of the back of a card – but how do you know when to upgrade to dual-sided?

When to Use a Single-Sided Printer

Single-sided printers only print on the front side of your cards, making them faster and more efficient than dual-sided printers. If you are only printing single-sided cards, you’ll need a single-sided printer. But there are several instances where you may also want a single-sided printer even if you are printing dual-sided cards.

For example, if all your cards have the same design on the back, like a “Return to this address if found” message, you can batch print all the cards with that information, and then print the customized front for each cardholder as needed. Or if you are on a tight budget and print a low volume of ID cards, and have the time to manually flip cards to print on both sides.

Shop all single-sided printers on DiscountID.

When to Use a Dual-Sided Printer

Dual-sided printers will automatically print on both sides of your cards, either by flipping them and running them through the printer again or by using two printheads to print both sides in a single pass.

You may want to upgrade to a dual-sided printer if printing efficiency and speed is important to your organization, especially if you print large numbers of cards. A dual-sided printer is also the best option if you need to print unique data on both sides of the card and cannot pre-print one side of the card.

Shop all dual-sided printers on DiscountID.