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How to Find the Best ID Card Printer [Guide]

A reliable printer is key to keeping any badging solution up and running. Whether your organization is printing five cards a year or 100+ identification cards a day, the requirement is the same…

An ID card printer that will create high-quality ID cards and badges quickly and efficiently.

But how do you know which one is ideal for you?

In this guide, we will cover:

  • Tips on how to find the best printer for card making
  • Features you should pay attention to

and more. Let’s get started.

Things to Consider First When Looking for the Best Card Printer

Magicard 300 ID card printer










Buying an ID printer is an important investment and should improve your day-to-day badging operations. Before choosing the best ID badge printer, ask yourself the following.

Which Type of Cards Do You Want to Print?

There are three types of cards which can be printed by ID card printers:

  1. Smart cards cards with an integrated circuit and chip (like credit cards). Control access and store time, attendance, and personal info.
  2. Proximity cards (key cards) – contactless smart cards using Near Field Communication (NFC), for example. An RFID card to grant access and provide security via contactless entry.
  3. Purely visual ID cards (can include magnetic stripes or barcodes)

The type of ID Card you need to print just determines what type of add-ons you need. You can add encoding options to a lot of direct to card printers and retransfer printers.

What type of print technology is right for you?

Reverse Transfer Printers (also called retransfer printers) print images onto a thin, clear substrate then heat transferred onto the card. Benefits are:

  • Increased durability: The image is printed onto the film, not directly onto the card
  • Print consistency: The retransfer film is a known and controlled substrate for consistent print quality
  • Designed for volume and long-life: Printhead never touches the card’s surface, making it less likely to be damaged
  • Print over the edge of the card: The film is slightly larger than the card, leaving no white edge when transferred
  • More card and security options: Print on slotted cards or cards with holes, add lamination and choose holographic or water marks for security

Direct-to-Card Printers (DTC) print directly onto the card's surface. Benefits include:

  • Faster Printing: A simple print process for quick throughput
  • Lower cost per print: Up to 30% savings vs. retransfer with fewer supplies and less expensive cards
  • Lower upfront investment: Printers cost about 25% less than retransfer equivalents

Smaller footprint: A simpler print mechanism for a small footprint to save countertop space

    Which Card Sizes Do You Want to Print?

    There are three standard card sizes used for ID printers:

    1. Credit Card Size
    2. Data Collection Size
    3. Government Size

    If you want to learn more, we have a dedicated article on size and format of ID cards.

    Do you need single or dual sided printing?

    If you only need basic information on your card (e.g. a name, a photo and the company name), a single-sided printer will probably do the job. For more complex requirements, dual-sided printers are recommended as they offer more space for required information and security add-ons. 

    Do You Need Data Stored on Your Card?

    High-quality ID card printers aren't limited to printing photos, texts and barcodes. They're also capable of encoding data on magnetic stripes or smart card chips. Sensitive access information or the cardholder's status can be added directly onto the ID card

    Do You Want to Laminate Your ID Cards?

    A laminating card printer has a lot of advantages, increased durability and flexibility being only two of them. Lamination means adding a thin layer to the ID card that protects the print like a coating. You can choose between a thinner and thicker lamination film. You can also purchase ID Badge Holders to further protect your cards and make them last.

    Do You Want to Print a Hologram?

    Some printers can also add holograms to the lamination. As a print or patch, such holograms provide additional security and can be designed in countless ways. Consider a Magicard printer which allows you to easily print their patented HoloKote on your ID cards.

    Technical Features Your ID Card Printer Should Have

    IDP Smart 51 ID card printer with lamination option


    ID card printers have to be connected to a computer, laptop or a mobile device and come with a specialized software to manage the whole ID card printing process.

    First, you need to make sure that your printer's software is actually running on your computer's operating system! While some printers may have trouble connecting to macOS, others are specifically designed for it.

    Connectivity & Software

    There are usually three different ways to connect your ID card printer with your device:

    1. USB – This is a very solid method, however, it limits the networking potential as the machine has to be positioned next to a computer.
    2. Ethernet – Establishing a networking connection for multiple users who can access the printer.
    3. Wi-Fi – Wireless access to the ID card printer.

    The software is usually bundled with the printer or made available for certain models. Managing the software is just as important as the technical specs of the ID printer. If there are different options available, make sure to assess each one thoughtfully before deciding on the software!

    Speed & Performance

    ID card printers differ in their operating speed. For smaller groups, a lower performance is usually sufficient as ID cards aren't printed very often. Bigger companies usually require higher speeds and more security features. If ID cards are re-issued on a regular basis, a fast printing process can save you a lot of time. Some professional printers can print up to 300 colored ID cards per hour or more than 1000 monochrome cards per hour.

    Our Best ID Card Printers

    With IDenticard, you’ll get the best printer for cards at a reasonable price and customized to fit your needs. Browse through our online shop and discover the broad product range.

    You can choose among:

    • Value printers with standard options for basic identification needs. Value ID card printers feature single or dual-sided printing capabilities for businesses requiring a quick, easy-to-use printer solution.
    • Performance printers with added features & lamination options. Best performance PVC ID card printers include single or dual-sided printing, lamination, high-capacity input hoppers as well as dual-simultaneous lamination options. They are suitable for advanced card printing needs.
    • Security printers with top security features & enhancements, such as dual-lamination, ethernet connectivity or retransfer printing.

    But that’s not all.

    To prevent slowing down your badging operation, you can use our online printer supply finder to stay fully stocked with a variety of supplies for both, PVC and inkjet printers. From ink cartridges from Epson, printer ribbons and print heads to create a badge or card, to printer cleaning kits. We have them all.

    IDenticard goes above and beyond for its clients by offering printer services, such as warranties, repairs, technical support, software upgrades, troubleshooting and more.

    Now you are ready to embark on your journey to find the best ID card printer. If you have any questions about our products or services, do not hesitate to contact the IDenticard experts. We will gladly assist you and find the right solution for your business.

    Our printer finder will also help you to find just the product that matches your needs.

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