Barcode ID Cards

Barcode ID cards are one of the most widely used forms of encoded ID cards and are simple to create. The information in a barcode can be encoded onto ID cards during the regular ID card printing process.

A barcode contains a group of variously patterned bars and spaces of numeric or alpha numeric data, which when printed on ID cards and scanned and read by a barcode reader, can serve to verify cardholder identity. ID card barcodes can include a cardholder’s name, address, department, employee number, access authorizations, training status, expiration date, biometric fingerprint or portrait data (depending on the type of barcode used) and more!

There are two kinds of barcodes, 1-D and 2-D. One-dimensional linear barcodes (1-D) have a single row of bars, and store less data than two-dimensional barcodes, making them best for applications only needing to encode a few characters or a single unique character string, like a pass code for secure access control ID card systems. Data stored on 1-D barcodes is highly redundant and more resistant to data degradation, is usually printed along the length of the ID card, and are read using swipe style ID card readers, with either visible or infrared sensors.

Two dimensional (2D) barcodes store more information than 1-D barcodes, and appear as a matrix of variable sized square dots, usually read by a raster-scanning beam sensor in a hand held barcode reader “gun”, or in fixed supermarket style ID card readers that don’t require swiping. 2-D barcodes can encode up to 500 bytes per square inch, making it possible to store biometric data like fingerprint and signature capture, or compressed versions of cardholder photos. This feature is unique to 2-D barcodes, and is not available with 1-D linear barcodes. 2-D barcodes do not require swiping, are very tolerant of artefacts and physical wear should not be a problem.

Barcodes are susceptible to being copied so it’s important to consider if possible security breaches due to copied barcodes could adversely affect your operations. Barcode ID cards can also be physically damaged due to being repeatedly swiped or heavily handled, but despite this, barcode ID cards are great because of 2-D barcode’s great capacity for data encoding, some of which is normally used for error correction encoding, making 2D barcodes remarkably tolerant of holes, cuts and dirt marks.

Barcodes should always be printed using the Black Resin K panel of ID card printer ribbons as the color is opaque to both visible and infrared sensors. As a security measure it is possible to print a black resin barcode on top of a dark YMC color panel in such a way that it cannot be photocopied, but it will still be able to be read by an infrared swipe reader.