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10 Ways to Save Hundreds on Your Card Printing System

Starting an in-house ID card printing program usually involves a considerable investment, which is why some businesses and organizations outsource their card printing needs to ID Superstore.

But for institutions that print and issue cards regularly such as banks, corporations, casinos, schools, theme parks, and government licensing bureaus, having plastic card printing equipment and supplies on-site makes more financial and operational sense.

Fortunately, the cost of maintaining your own card printing system need not be expensive.  Here are ways on how you can reduce your costs:

1. Select the Right Printer for Your Needs – Plastic card printers come in a wide range of models and price points.Zebra ZXP Series 8 Plastic Card Printer

Before deciding on a specific brand or model, assess your needs vis-à-vis the feature set of the printer you’re considering. Will you be issuing cards with magnetic stripes? Then a printer with built-in encoder might be your best choice. Investing on a printer, that already includes the features you need, will save you from the expense of purchasing new hardware in the future. Conversely, if you can foresee your printing needs changing down the road, buying a printer that allows for modular upgrades will net you big savings as you will only be paying for the features that you will be using.

Instead of focusing on the retail price of the printer, you should pay more attention to the Annual Cost of Ownership as it can affect your long terms costs much more than the purchase price of your printer. Adding the cost of the printer and the cost of 5000 prints per year for five years, and then dividing that sum by 5 years is how you compute for Annual Cost of Ownership.

2. Get Extended Warranty – When you buy an ID card printer, the product usually includes a 1 to 3 year warranty from the manufacturer, which covers printhead replacement.

However, once the warranty period expires, you will be responsible for costs should your printer need a part replaced. The cost for a printhead replacement alone can be substantial. Investing on an extended warranty will give you peace of mind and sizable savings in the long run.

TIP: ID Superstore offers preventive maintenance plans at different price points for various card printer models. Call or e-mail our technical support team for details.

3. Maximize the Shelf Life of Your Printer Ribbon – Printer ribbons have a shelf life of 1 to 2 years. To ensure that your ribbons don’t go to waste due to improper storage, avoid storing print ribbons in:Plastic Card Printer Ribbons

  • Areas where they will be unprotected against direct sunlight
  • Areas where they will be exposed to equipment that produce heat
  • Areas with high relative humidity and high temperatures
  • Areas where solvents and chemicals are usually stored

Also, ribbons attract dust so be sure to store them in a sealed container and only remove one from its protective wrapping when you are ready to put it into the card printer.

4. Buy the Correct Supplies – Some ID card printer supplies such as ribbons and cleaning kits are brand and printer specific. If you have a Zebra printer, you can only use genuine Zebra printer ribbon on it. So be sure to list down the exact model of your printer when ordering supplies to avoid costly mistakes. Here's a video guide in selecting the right ribbon for your card printer:

When buying blank plastic cards, you have the option of choosing between branded cards and generic PVC cards. However, when it comes to generic cards, be sure to purchase only from trusted retailers as some plastic cards have been found to be of low quality resulting in card jams or poor print quality.

5. Handle and Store Your Supplies Properly – The life span of your card printer will be most impacted by the care you show to the consumables that you use in it. Improper handling of cards may introduce dust, dirt, and oil to your printer, which can lead to card jams that eventually result to printer downtime and costly repairs.Blank PVC Cards with HiCo Magnetic Stripes

Always handle blank cards with care, touching only the sides to prevent contamination. The smallest fingerprint or speck of dust can result in voids, lines, or dull areas on the printed cards. Contamination can also greatly reduce printhead life. Here's a video demonstrating the proper handling of blank PVC cards:

When it comes to laminates and overlays, store them the same way you would store print ribbons to keep their shelf life longer. Improper storage can cause varnish overlays and laminate ribbons to become sticky, rendering them unusable.

6. Follow Suggested Printer Maintenance Procedures – Not many people realize this but the damage that a speck of dust can cause to a card printer is considerable. Printhead replacement alone could reach $600 in costs, which is why maintenance guidelines must never be ignored. It is recommended that you clean your card printer using a manufacturer-approved cleaning kit after each ribbon change to keep your printer functioning at optimal condition.

A well-maintained printer will extend the lifespan of your printer, keep your badge printing costs low, and keep your card-printing program running for years.

7. Take Advantage of Offers – These days, every retailer has some sort of promotion happening. Always take the time to look at these promotions as you could net big savings if you take advantage of these offers.

ID Superstore, for example, has a special sale on Javelin Card Printers that includes free shipping, free print ribbon ($48 value), free ID card design software ($400 value), and a free Amazon gift card ($50 value).

Whether you’re buying your first plastic card printer or simply replenishing your blank cards, it pays to take advantage of offers.

8. Trade in Your Old Printer for Rebates or Store Credit – If your printing needs have outgrown your trusty old printer, turn your aging equipment into cash by trading it in instead of letting it gather dust in your stock room.

TIP: ID Superstore has a trade in program for qualifying Zebra card printers. Call or e-mail to find out how you can take advantage of this offer.Laminates

9. Laminate Your Cards – Lamination prolongs the life of a card by sealing the printed surface, protecting it from wearing due to constant swiping. It also shields the card from fading or smudging as a result of being exposed to ultraviolet rays or contact with liquid or abrasive chemicals.

The simple act of laminating printed cards can save your business a considerable sum by eliminating the need to replace damaged cards as well as increase employee productivity by reducing time spent reprinting ID cards.

10. Minimize Printing Mistakes by Following our Guide – Most ID card design software packages are very user-friendly that even the most inexperienced intern can use them.

However, user-friendliness must not be confused with design experience and skills. If you’re new to designing and printing plastic cards, it pays to go over these card designs tips before hitting “print” on that 500-card print run.

As a business owner or manager, you will always be looking for ways to minimize expenses but saving money does not necessarily mean spending less upfront.  Sometimes, the savings lie in the long-term benefits.


For more money saving tips, talk to our experienced ID professionals today. You can reach us through phone or e-mail.

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