Product Guides & Industry Terms

Direct to Card vs. Re-Transfer Printers

As the name implies, Direct to Card printers use a method of printing the image directly onto the cards surface. The print head comes in direct contact with the cards, raising potential damage to the print head from dust or dirt that could exist on the card’s surface. These printers also require a 1/16in gap on the start and end of your card, in order to minimize print head damage.

Re-Transfer printers never come in contact with anything other than the ribbon; first, it prints the image onto a clear film, kind of like its canvas. Then the printer takes that film with the image and transfers it by melting it to the card, allowing users to achieve true edge to edge card printing. Re-Transfer printers are more expensive, but provide a substantially higher quality image, longer image life, and a lifetime warranty on the print head.

Speeds vary between the two printers in that Re-Transfers require additional time to warm up when first powered on, plus their two-step printing process is slower compared to the Direct to Card Printer. The best way to determine which will serve you best is to have us do a quick analysis with you; it takes only a few minutes, then you’re certain to get exactly what you need.

Dual-sided Printers

Dual-sided printers have the same production features as their single-sided counterparts, but with one important variation: they print both the front and reverse side of the card automatically. Dual-sided printers can also print single- sided cards as you need.

Encoding Magnetic Stripes

Encoding is tic stripe, similar to the type found on the back of credit cards. The magnetic stripe is composed of a resin that houses minute magnetic particles. Higher-end model printers can provide: ISO Magnetic Encoding, Contact Smart Card Encoding, or Contactless Smart Card Encoding.


This process places an extra layer of protection on your cards’ surfaces after printing the image. It comes as a patch or a strip, and makes your cards more scratch-resistant and better protected from UV light. It also can be embedded with a hologram to add an extra layer of visual security, as the hologram makes it more challenging to produce a counterfeit card.

Printer Connection Types

Connections available include: USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and serial, with USB being a standard connection type on every model of printer we sell.

Single-sided Printing

Single-sided printers, as the name implies, print only one side of the card and then eject your freshly-printed card. Depending on the quantity of cards you are printing, can choose a single hand-fed printer, where each card is manually placed into the printer for production, or you can get a single-sided printer with a card hopper, allowing for the printer to pull cards in automatically.

Software for Your ID Printer

To insure the ease and convenience of printing and managing your card and badge and production, software is one of your most sensible investments. There is a wide variety to choose from, some simply featuring making and printing a card, to more robust functions such as connecting to your own database and allowing you to run reports, track attendance, or even company assets. Contact us to find out which software will fit best with your needs so that you get the most you can from your ID printer.

ID and Smart Cards

With so many uses, perhaps the most common use of ID and Smart Cards is to authenticate someone’s identity and/or control access of that person, or track assets or objects. While a typical ID card is limited to simple considerations like a photo or other defining marks, smart cards employ greater technological components, such as RFID (radio frequency identification) or even embedded circuits and microchips. We provide extensive consults on helping you determine which cards offer the best protection for the needs of your organization.

These topics cover some of the many questions we receive, but if you have further questions, we’re ready to help!

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