Choosing between laminated ID cards and standard ID cards is one of the first decisions you must make when selecting new card stock for an ID program.
Why, you ask?
Because the results of that debate are going to determine what you do with a variety of other important aspects of your program, including:
- What kind of ID card printer you need
- Your cost for ID card supplies
- Whether or not you need a card-carrying accessory
However, laminating your ID cards offers a number of benefits to both your ID program and your organization as a whole. Some are obvious. Some are a little more obscure.
But all three will have your organization wondering why it didn't make the switch to laminated cards sooner.
Learn more about how you'll benefit from using laminated ID cards
For those who aren't as familiar with ID cards, laminating ID cards refers to the process of coating the surface of a PVC, composite or synthetic paper ID card in a layer of protective laminate.
Laminate is usually clear, but occasionally contains images (Iike holographic foils for security purposes).
There are two main ways ID cards are laminated:
- At printing Some PVC ID card printers are capable of laminating the cards right after the print is applied. These printers will churn out several dozen laminated, fully printed ID cards per hour, but can cost thousands of dollars.
- With pouches A less robust ID program may use laminating pouches for their ID credentials. These pouches come in common ID card sizes and are usually made of a mix of polyester and polyethylene. Printed cards are placed in the pouches, which are then run through a laminating machine.
The methods above have their pros and cons. One's fast, but expensive, and is meant for large-scale use; the other is more affordable but takes longer and is a much more "hands-on" process.
However, both methods provide the benefits laid out below.
1. Laminating your ID cards will make them last longer.
Adding durability to ID credentials is essentially the purpose of using lamination. Laminated credentials have been proven to last longer than non-laminated credentials in standard use.
Laminating your ID cards adds durability and longevity to your cards in two different ways:
- By making your cards stronger Most standard ID cards have a thickness of 30 mils. Laminate ribbons and pouches usually coat cards in a layer anywhere from 5-mils to 10-mils thick (on each side). This means that a laminated card is usually upwards of 25% thicker than a standard ID card. Why does this matter? That extra thickness helps protect the card from physical damage, including bending and cracking.
- By protecting the surface of your cards Think of coating your cards in a layer of laminate as being like those people who put their Beanie Babies (they'll be worth millions some day!) in plastic cases back in the 90s: it's a way to keep water, dirt, dust and other debris off of the surface of your item while still keeping it visible. Lamination works the same way with your ID cards: the laminate layer protects the printed imagery and text from being scratched or getting dirty, all while still keeping it right there on display.
By offering these two different types of protection, lamination helps ensure that your ID cards will be around for a long time.
2. Laminating your ID cards can save your organization money in the long run.
We know. It can be hard to think of the "big picture" when you work in the budgeting office of a corporation and just saw a request to buy a $3,000 dual-sided lamination ID card printer to make new employee badges.
But hear us out: laminating your ID cards allows you to make that money back over time by reducing the number of cards you have to reissue.
Replacement cards are a reality. People are careless with their cards. Scratches appear on the surface. Images fade when a card is left out in the sun at lunch.
However, replacement cards can be expensive, especially for a larger organization.
If you print 10 new cards a week, it'll probably cost you around $1.10 per card, including your materials. That's nearly $600 per year spent on replacing damaged ID cards!
Laminating pouches, however, can cost as little as a dime each, and can drastically increase the longevity of an ID card.
By allowing you to issue fewer replacement cards, your investment in your laminating printer or those laminating pouches begins to pay for itself in no time.
3. Laminating your ID cards keeps them looking professional.
Sure, the main purpose of an ID card is to identify the wearer.
However, there's a secondary purpose, one that's arguably as important: to project a look of professionalism at a job site.
While it'd be an exaggeration to say that any entity that has people sporting ID cards is automatically legitimate, there's no denying that a quality ID card makes an operation seem more professional.
The badges you issue can be the first thing a guest sees when he or she signs in with your receptionist, or can be the first thing a prospective investor glances at when he or she arrives in your conference room.
Having a good ID card is a big deal! Having a damaged ID card, however, is a deal breaker.
We've all seen them: the cards that look like they've been left out in the rain, or were stepped on a few times too many. What about the cards that have the sort of dog-eared look, curling up at the edges? Yikes!
A company's ID program is a reflection of that company itself, and no company wants its ID program to scream "WE'RE KIND OF OUTDATED!"
Laminating your ID cards allows you to keep those important credentials looking as crisp and clean as the day they came out of your printer, ensuring a consistently professional look for all of your employees.
We offer a full line of ID card printers that feature laminating modules, as well as a variety of laminating pouches that can keep your cards safe.