How Do ID Card Printer Ribbons Work?
DTC Card Printing:
The most popular method to personalise colour ID cards is DTC – Direct To Card printing. A colour film infuses the dye from the ribbon onto the plastic surface of an ID card using the heated print head of the printer. ID card printers use a roll of semi-opaque ID card printer ribbon made up of a repeating series of Yellow (Y), Magenta (M), Cyan (C), Black (K) and Overcoat (O) panels in order to print the cards.
DTC printing enables what is referred to as “edge-to-edge” printing where the coverage of Dye ink (i.e images and text) can be printed up to the edges of the card. Upon closer inspection you will always see a “white edge” where the corner the card rounds off to the edge. This is true for all models and makes of Plastic card printers and its the most economical print process used by all major manufacturers including Evolis, Datacard, Smart IDP, Fargo, Magicard, Zebra.
Ribbons are available in the following formats:
Full Colour Ribbons
Colour ribbons come in several types with multiple colour panels (similar to the colour ink you might use in a desktop printer) and most ribbons also come with a clear “Overlay” (O) panel to protect the image. Combining these colours you can print any full colour image.
- YMCKO = Yellow Magenta, Cyan, Black, Overlay. Ideal for Full Colour single or Double sided printing
- YMCKO-K = The extra “K” at the end of this ribbon indicates it will print full colour one side of card and black on the reverse. This saves you substantial money as many cards only require the colour print on the front and simple plain text on the back. Not many people know this and often use the YMCKO part of the ribbon to print the black colour on the reverse. It’s estimated that the cost of a single YMCKO print is .23c per card while a black (K) will cost less than .1c.
Monochrome ribbons contain a single colour panel and can only print in that colour without any shades making them ideal for printing text and barcodes. Our most popular is the black ribbon BUT we are seeing an increasing number of clients requesting silver and gold ribbons to print onto our black and colour ranged of ID cards.
To see a full list of our DTC ribbons to create a unique design for your membership, loyalty or employee cards, click on the links below:
- Evolis Ribbons
- Magicard Ribbons
- Datacard Ribbons
- Smart IDP Ribbons
- Zebra Ribbons
- Fargo Ribbons
- Matica Ribbons
Retransfer Card Printing
Retransfer printing brings additional benefits to any card printing system that a standard direct to card (DTC) printer cannot offer. Retransfer ID card printers print over the entire card’s surface and this process is known as “over-the-edge” or “full bleed” coverage. Unlike the DTC process, retransfer printers first print onto a clear receptive film which is then “Shrink-wrapped” around the plastic ID card. This creates a vivid for a full colour “wrap” image, hence the name – retransfer printing
This “over-the-edge” coverage cannot be achieved with the more common DTC ID card printers. Retransfer colour printing is often more vivid, making it the printer of choice for commercial print shops, in-house bureau’s, corporate organisations and design studios. We sell the Matica range of retransfer printers and its proved very popular with many of our clients. If you’d wish to see a sample of a finished ID card, please get it touch!
No matter what the model or brand of ID card printer, we stock a brand to suit you.
Clean your ID card Printer
Finally, don’t forget that regular maintenance and cleaning of your card printer can increase its lifespan. We stock cleaning and maintenance kits for all brands so be sure to pick one up when you order your next printer ribbon!