Archive for the ‘Tips & Tricks’ Category

Two Shortcuts To Avoid When Printing ID Cards

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Most people are looking for ways to save a few bucks, save time, or both. When it comes to ID card printing, you might be surprised to find out that the shortcuts you’ve decided to take are actually costing you more in the long run in both time and money.

Pre-Punched Slot Cards

card printing damageLets say you have hundreds of PVC cards to print that need to be attached to a lanyard. The most obvious solution is to purchase pre-punched slot cards. The time required to hand-punch hundreds of cards seems daunting to you, right? Well, this shortcut may actually end up causing some serious damage to your DTC (direct-to-card) printer.

The printhead on a direct-to-card printer can come into contact with the edges surrounding the pre-punched slot in the cards, causing significant damage to your printhead. If this happens, you’ll begin to notice white lines appearing near the middle of your professional ID cards, meaning one or more pixels have been damaged and can no longer print on the ribbon. In this scenario, the only option you have is to replace your printhead, which can cost hundreds of dollars.

If you know you need to print on a lot of pre-punched slot cards, you should look into purchasing a retransfer PVC card printer, which prints your cards images to a clear film that’s applied to the card’s surface. With retransfer PVC card printers, the printhead never touches the card, eliminating the possibility of damage from pre-punched slot cards.

Using a Single-Sided Printer to Print on Both Sides of Your ID Cards

Another shortcut you want to avoid when card printing is using a single-sided ID card printer and manually hand-flipping your ID cards to print on both sides. You may be able to save on some upfront costs by purchasing a single-sided over a dual-sided printer, but the wear and tear you on the printer from hand-flipping cards can damage both your cards and your printer.

Not only can fingerprints affect the surface of your ID cards, but that oil and dirt from your hands can cause damage to internal parts of your ID printer. It’s important that dust, dirt, and debris don’t come in contact with your cards or your printer parts to help extend the lifespan of your ID card printing system.

Similar to the potential damage caused by pre-punched slot cards from above, your can irreparably damage your printer’s printhead. Again, you may begin to notice white lines appearing across your ID cards. A fix for this would mean replacing the printhead, and you would also incur the cost of reprinting and reissuing all of the cards with white lines.

In the end, it will cost you more to repair the damage from hand-flipping your ID cards than purchasing a dual-sided printer.

With over 40 years of combined industry experience, Advantidge has been helping institutions around the world create secure, cost-effective identity management solutions featuring easy-to-use access control systems. As one of the top distributors for the industry’s most respected ID card product manufacturers, Advantidge is committed to ensuring that every client receives the right ID products for their specific needs. Contact us today at [email protected] or call 800-965-5932, we provide excellent customer service!

Security Features For ID Cards

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

There are many different security features id card security features that should be considered when printing text on a blank ID card doesn’t provide sufficient security. Some of these ID card security features can be implemented at a user-level, while others must be added before purchasing the ID cards.

Here is a breakdown of the various ID card security features:

Barcodes: One of the most widely used forms of encoded ID cards and are easy to create, as the information in a barcode can be encoded onto an ID card during the regular ID card printing process.

Photo/Picture: If your cards don’t already include the user’s photo, consider adding them. Photographs are the most basic security feature that you can add to your ID card, because they offer an easy way to quickly confirm a person’s identity. While photos help reduce the possibility of fraud, they are not foolproof as photographs can be replicated using optical scanners and copiers. They are a good first line of security, nonetheless.

Magnetic Stripe: Also known as magstripe cards, are PVC ID Badges containing a band of magnetic material embedded in the resin on the back of the card. Magnetic stripe ID cards store updatable information on a magstripe, which is read when the card is swiped through a magnetic stripe card reader.

Proximity/RFID/Smart Card: These use radio frequency transmit/receive electronics (integrated circuit technology) to transfer data. This data transmits securely from a distance. When considering id card security features, keep in mind that proximity cards are unique in that they do not have to be swiped through a magnetic stripe card reader, so they are a convenient solution for secure door access control, as well as for use with time and attendance applications. When in use, a card reader sends out a field that activates the antenna coil which lies within a proximity card, and charges the capacitor. Card information is then transmitted via this antenna coil to the card reader and if the information is found to be accurate access is granted, be it door entry or a monetary purchase.

Fluorescent Overlay:  This allows you to create highly secure and durable identification cards in one printing cycle without the added cost associated with lamination or overlay varnish. Some key id card security features include reduced risk of counterfeiting, increased durability, unparalleled flexibility, lower costs, and improved efficiency.

Hologram: Commonly used today for visual security and authentication features on a variety of identification cards that provide value for the cardholder. Rainbow transmission holograms are formed as surface relief patterns in plastic film, incorporating a reflective aluminum coating that provides light to reconstruct a holographic image. Holograms from Advantidge are virtually impossible to copy because of their unique visual effects. They cannot be replicated by computer scanning/alteration or with color copiers or standard printing equipment, making them a highly secure defense against the threat of fraud or theft by counterfeiters.

Microtext: Considered as one of the most difficult to reproduce, micro text printing is commonly used in passports and currencies. ID card security features like microtext are used on highly secure ID cards. Upon visual examination, micro text appears as a regular thin line on an ID badge, but when inspected using a microscope or magnifying glass, the lines are actually repeating text that say authentic, genuine, or valid. Unlike most add-on security features, micro text printing requires industrial equipment to produce, which limits this option to pre-printed cards.

Laser Engraving: Laser engraving is a highly secure method of monochrome card personalization that etches features into the card body itself. This provides tamper proof and highly durable personalization, making forgery and manipulation virtually impossible. Attempts to alter engraved information will result in visually evident card damage.

Workplace Security – OSHA Visitor Management Guidelines

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

osha-e1434392422571OSHA publishes many reports which often include recommended guidelines designed to increase workplace safety. While these recommendations aren’t official OSHA “regulations”, they are helpful suggestions for healthcare organizations of all kinds.

The following recommendations have previously been shared by The Joint Commission, showing just how important the healthcare industry considers them to be.

OSHA’s guidelines include:

  • Specific sign-in/sign-out procedures for all traveling workers, contractors and other temporary employees
  • Record data for all visiting employees using visitor management software, including name, patients seen, duration of visit, contact number, license plate info and more
  • Institute sign-in procedures and issue visitor passes to better track guests
  • Enforce visitor hours and procedures for all hospital guests
  • Establish a list of restricted visitors, including those with a history of violence
  • Provide staff with employee badges, preferably without last names

The easiest way to get your facility in line with the OSHA guidelines mentioned above is to implement a visitor management system at your site.

“Visitor management” refers to the process of registering and monitoring guests at your site. Visitor management solutions range from simple sign-in books left at an unattended front desk (not recommended) to comprehensive software systems that require a visitor to scan a driver’s license or ID card for entry.

Visitor management is a crucial part of almost every business where there is confidential data, but is of extraordinary relevance and importance in the healthcare market. A successful visitor management program helps increase security across your site, from employees down to guests.

AdvantIDge offers a wide variety of card printer systems, and other visitor management devices, to fill any of your asset tracking, visitor management, or identification card needs. From card printers and supplies for issuance, through to badge clips and other peripherals, we strive to put them into your users hands. With more than 40 years of combined industry experience, we’re ready to help you achieve your identification goals. For specific information please contact our sales department at [email protected] or call 800-965-5932 for more information on this update– we provide excellent customer service!

Preventative Maintenance: Why You Need A Printer Cleaning Kit

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Cleaning KitBelieve it or not, ID Card Printers require some due-diligence to maintain a proper working order. In order to prevent future printing problems, it’s important that you have the necessary knowledge and tools to keep your printer in working order. In the long term, buying a $20-$30 cleaning kit could quite literally save you hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars in repairs and printer costs.

How often should I clean my ID card printer?

  • You should clean your ID card printer every time you switch out a printer ribbon. Often times manufacturers recommend cleaning around 700-1000 prints, but to be safe you should certainly perform a cleaning more often.

What’s the big deal? What if I don’t clean my ID card printer?

  • If you decide to forgo cleaning, get ready for some awful prints! You’re risking having some ugly ID cards, but on top of that, you may also cause some internal damage that could require bringing your printer in for repair. Before you say “oh, well it’s under warranty by the manufacturer, who cares!”, by being neglectful you may have even voided the warranty, and end up having to pay hundreds or thousands to get back to printing ID cards.

Okay, you’ve convinced me. What should I do now? 

  • Look around your work-space, maybe you already have a cleaning kit lying around. If so, great! There should be some instructions that give you guidance in how to perform the cleaning. If you need to purchase a cleaning kit, give us a ring and we will ship one out to you! Whether you need a Fargo ID card printer cleaning kit, Evolis ID card printer cleaning kit, or require something else, AdvantIDge will match you up with the correct kit for your specific printer. If you’re not comfortable cleaning your ID printer yourself, AdvantIDge support is only a call away to guide you through the process!

Today, businesses of all sizes choose Advantidge because our ID card systems deliver guaranteed reliability with personal attention from qualified account managers. We take pride in our 360 degree approach to complete customer satisfaction while our end-to-end ID card solutions help clients protect physical and intellectual assets in today’s digital age. Whether you issue hundreds or millions of ID badges each year, count on Advantidge to help you conduct business productively and efficiently. Contact us today at [email protected] or call 800-965-5932, we provide excellent customer service!

Submission Guidelines for Samples and In House Printing

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

Student ID Card StackAdvantIDge offers a variety of printing services for our clients. Although most of the jobs we handle are done by our large press partners, there are occasions where we will produce a few samples, or a small run of cards, in our main offices. When this applies the production uses the same ID badge printers and software that we offer to our clients, and is typically used  to show off the end product of a badging system to a client prior to their purchase. Below are the submission guidelines for getting artwork to AdvantIDge for our in-house printing services.

When requesting sample cards please use the following specifications to ensure successful production;

  • Please send all artwork laid out at print ready size. That is 2 1/8″ (2.125) x 3 3/8″ (3.375)
    • Do NOT submit artwork on a larger size with crop marks or a frame
  • Artwork should be at least 300 DPI. Less than that will not be reflective of the quality of the printer.
  • Artwork may be submitted as a JPG of PDF only. No other file types will be accepted.
    • If the cards are double sided and a PDF is being submitted, please provide a two page PDF so cards can be produced both sides at once.

AdvantIDge can help you fit these criteria, but there may be a setup charge required prior to production of cards.

AdvantIDge will provide up to 5 sample cards with two different designs. Additional samples can be requested, but additional charges may apply.

Tips For a Healthy ID Card Printer: Printer Maintenance

Monday, September 26th, 2016

Often we at AdvantIDge are asked by our clients for a few basic suggestions to get the most life out of their ID badge machine. Though every card printer is a little bit different, and all of the manufacturer’s have their own specific ideas and guidelines, there are a few printer maintenance tips that every badge printer has in common that can help you get started down the road of ensuring you get the most out of your investment.

    1. Use the recommended ID card printer ribbon for your printer and make sure it is installed correctly. A properly installed ribbon will be aligned and fit securely.
    2. Always use good quality blank ID cards that are clean and make sure they stay free from dust on the shelf and in the ID badge printer.
    3. Routinely clean the ID card printer. A good rule of thumb is to clean your ID card printer every time you replace the printer ribbon. Be sure to use the cleaning products and procedures recommended by the manufacturer.
    4. Always keep your ID card printer located in a clean environment where it won’t be exposed to excessive dust, moisture, coffee, soda, etc…

These simple steps can prevent the most common complaints including printer ribbons breaking, plastic PVC ID cards jamming, general print failures and card feeder issues. For more detailed information regarding your ID card printer see our ID Card Printers Support Page or contact us at 800-965-5932. If your printer requires more intensive troubleshooting and repair, AdvantIDge has factory trained and certified technicians prepared to handle any repairs or issues for you. We also sell a full range of ID card printer cleaning products to help keep you on track. Together we can work to ensure your ID card printer has the longest lifespan possible!

How to Increase Your ID Card Durability

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

badge holders

Now that you’ve made the investment into a card printer, you definitely want your cards to last as long as possible. Card durability is essential to guarding your cards from everyday wear and tear — eliminating the cost of creating replacement badges due to card damage. Whether you’re producing student ID’s, construction worker credentials, or staff badges, we have all the ways to keep your cards looking fresh.

Lamination

Just like with anything, lamination protects from scratches, debris, and water. It’s the same for your ID cards! We’ve lined up your options from inexpensive to luxury protection:

Adhesive ID Card Overlays

Clear lamination overlay stickers add great protection and durability to a basic ID card system. Whether it is to protect the image of an ID badge from getting scratched in the wallet or to keep the image from transferring off of the card in a vinyl ID badge holder pouch. These plain overlays are “peel and stick” transparent labels which are manually affixed after the ID card is printed. These are also available in holographic varieties to add visual card security!

Lamination module

Overlaminates add a layer of visual security to your cards, making it more difficult for counterfeiters to duplicate. With varying thickness (.6 mil and 1.0 mil) you can choose the level of durability for your cards. They also add durability by reducing swipe abrasion and dye migration, and by shielding the images on your card from UV light. With lamination, you can add up to 5 times durability to your cards!

HDP Printers

All HDP (High Definition Printers) also known as “retransfer printers” require film for the printing process. In addition to improved color saturation and edge-to-edge printing from HDP printers, the film provides UV protection which protects the card color from fading. Combining this with a lamination unit offers supreme protection for the cards.

Badge holders

Badge holders come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and durability. Badge holders can have “zip lock” features to lock out elements such as rain or debris. Others come in rigid plastic to reinforce badges, making sure they aren’t bent or warped. Commonly, badge holders are thin plastic pouches affixed to lanyards to prevent scratches and scuffs. If dealing with heavy machinery or construction, arm badge holders are an excellent alternative to ensure badges don’t caught in moving mechanical parts.

Break away lanyards

More of a safety precaution than anything else, break away lanyards have a safety latch on them which detaches under pressure. This is usually required for schools and health care facilities to prevent chocking. If a lanyard gets caught on an object or pulled with force, the latch along the neck separates the lanyard into two to prevent chocking.

AdvantIDge offers a wide variety of all of the card printer systems, or other visitor management devices, to fill any of your asset tracking, visitor management, or identification card needs. From card printers and supplies for issuance, through to badge clips and other peripherals to put them into your users hands. With more than 40 years of combined industry experience, we’re ready to help you achieve your identification goals. For specific information please contact our sales department at [email protected] or call 800-965-5932 for more information on this update– we provide excellent customer service!

Spot Print Head Damage in an ID Card Printer

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Print HeadProper printer care is very important and regular maintenance can go a long way to ensuring that your badge printer stays as reliable as the day you purchased it. There are a lot of differnt things that can go wrong with an ID card printer. One of the worst scenarios is when the print head isn’t performing correctly, making any cards that print from the machine useless.

Printhead damage can happen for a variety of reasons. The most common cause is a bit of dirt or grit staying stuck to a card as it goes into the machine for printing. That grit scrapes the print head as the card is printing, leaving a scratch in the delicate part of the printer. The result is a white line through your printed card. The line corresponds with the scratch on the print head; a place where the head couldn’t heat up properly and melt the ink onto the card.

The best way to deal with this problem is, of course, prevention. Proper regular cleaning and maintenance to make sure the cleaning rollers are clean is a first line of defense against this kind of damage. Should this fail, there is a chance that the issue is actually caused by a speck of debris stuck to the head instead of damaging it. Following the manufacturer’s instructions for correctly cleaning the head may solve all of your issues without the hassle or cost of replacing the part.

For guidance on proper cleaning or maintenance of your badge printer, look no further. The ID card industry experts here at AdvantIDge can advise you on the proper steps to take for your badge machine, as well as offer all of the right cleaning supplies to get the job done right. If things do turn out to be the worst; a need to replace that print head, AdvantIDge can help there, too. We keep most parts in stock and offer expedited repair services for all the major card printer manufacturers. With more than 40 years of combined industry experience, we’re ready to help you achieve your identification goals. For specific information please contact our sales department at [email protected] or call 800-965-5932 for more information on this update– we provide excellent customer service!

Choosing the Best Cards for Your ID Card Printers

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Your new ID card printer has just arrived. Great! Now let’s make sure you’re using the right cards for it. The most common ID badge makers are thermal printers with direct-to-card printing technology. Much like the name implies, images are printed directly onto the card’s surface. Uneven cards or cards made from the wrong material risk damaging the print head and even ruining your card images.

What to UseID cards

CR-80 PVC Cards

  • Industry standard CR-80 cards are plastic credit card-sized cards perfect for printing personalized ID badges on any ID card printer. Print low cost photo ID cards and loyalty cards with ease.
  • These blank ID cards have a high polish finish for photo quality printing, a vision inspected rating, and are shrink wrapped in boxes of 500 count to make sure they stay clean for your use!
  • These are the ideal and only cards you want for your direct-to-card printer. The smooth, glossy surface will provide an even and durable finished product.

What NOT to use

Teslin

  • Teslin looks similar to PVC cards, but is actually a synthetic paper material that has been laminated and cut to the size of a credit card. If a Teslin card is passed through a DTC printer, the card surface will melt along with the ribbon.
  • This yields a very distorted and unrecognizable image that is heavily saturated with black. That’s not to say it’s appropriate for only printing in black – the card will still melt.

Matte

  • Matte-finish cards are meant for ink jet printing. This porous material absorbs the ink which makes it permanent, just like printing on paper. Inspecting the card under a microscope reveals the tiny peaks and valleys on the card’s surface.
  • If passed through a thermal printer, (used for ID card printing), only the highest peaks touch the ribbon, which leads to a pixelated looking image.
  • Think of dipping a sponge in paint and then stamping it onto paper. The imprint isn’t a smooth, solid shape — there are holes in the image.

AdvantIDge offers a wide variety of all of the card printer systems, or other visitor management devices, to fill any of your asset tracking, visitor management, or identification card needs. From card printers and supplies for issuance, through to badge clips and other peripherals to put them into your users hands. With more than 40 years of combined industry experience, we’re ready to help you achieve your identification goals. For specific information please contact our sales department at [email protected] or call 800-965-5932 for more information on this update– we provide excellent customer service!

Making Great Looking Cards; Artwork Specs

Monday, December 28th, 2015

industry-solutionsThe first thing that you should be considering the layout and contents of an identification card is the level of security that your card needs to contain. It might be visual elements, like photos or bar codes, or it might be digital information, like the data in a magnetic stripe or a RFID chip. Making sure these elements are correct and in place is paramount.

After that, though, you might also want your card to look good. The static visual elements on your card, things like your company logo, or perhaps some kind of a background image, are a great opportunity for your organization to present itself in a professional and visually appealing way. Simply because the purpose of a card might be security concerns, there is no reason that it can’t also look good to anyone wearing them, or perhaps more importantly, to anyone not associated with your organization who might be visiting, or seeing who you are and who you represent, for the first time.

Though it is possible to use virtually any layout program to design a card, most users are going to find that using a card issuance program is going to make their ID badge is the easiest way to get them the quality of card they are looking for. Though they are designed to be easy to use programs, there are a few tips and tricks that are worth knowing that can help you be successful in every aspect of card design.

The first thing to know is that these programs, though they are all simple graphic design programs, are not very adept at CREATING artwork. They are much more for PLACING artwork that was prepared outside the program. With that in mind, here are some criteria to make sure the artwork you want to place looks good and is ready to go;

  • There are a large number of image formats you may have heard of; .bmp, .gif, .tiff just to name a few. Card design software is meant to be simple to use and integrate. To help insure that the programmers made them work best with .jpgs. This is the most common file format, and easiest to create. Make sure you are using  jpgs to be sure your card program will have no problems reading your files.
  • The dimensions of a standard size card is 2 1/8 inches by 3 3/8 inches. If you want to do an image that covers the entire card, those are the dimensions. Anything larger than that can be shrunk to appropriate size. Anything smaller will need to be stretched, which might make it look fuzzy, depending on the quality of the original image.
  • Also keep in mind with those dimensions that the card shape is a rectangle. Anything that is not the same rectangle shape may require trimming off of the top or side to get it the right proportions.
  • Finally, for full images covering a card, depending on the printer you have chosen, most ID badge printers have the restriction of not being able to print all the way to the edge of the card. Make the design you create is still going to look acceptable despite technology restrictions.
  • For all images, large or small, your printer has the ability to print at least 600 DPI. This refers to the quality of the image. The more DPI, which stands for “dots per inch” the sharper the printed image. The human eye can see a density of up to 300 DPI. The internet typically uses only 72 DPI, to keep file sizes small, and because your computer screen has extra features in it that can “smooth out” an image and make it look better. Your printer won’t have that same feature, however, so using a logo you found on the company website, for example, won’t yield you very good results. Make sure you are using images that are at least 300 DPI.

In summary;

Use JPGs for your images, of at least 300 DPI to ensure sharp printing quality. Background images should be 2 1/8 inches by 3 3 /8 inches to completely cover the surface of the card.

With over 40 years of combined industry experience, Advantidge has been helping institutions around the world create secure, cost-effective identity management solutions featuring easy-to-use access control systems. As one of the top distributors for the industry’s most respected ID card product manufacturers, Advantidge is committed to ensuring that every client receives the right ID products for their specific needs. Contact us today at [email protected] or call 800-965-5932, we provide excellent customer service!