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How Should I Handle Blank Cards?

Avoid costly reprints and expensive repairs by learning the proper way of handling blank cards.

Improper handling of cards can introduce dust, dirt and oil to your printer. The ideal way to handle blank cards is with a clean cotton glove and by touching only the edges. Oil from your fingers will prevent the dyes or ink from adhering properly. Always handle blank cards with care to prevent contamination from dust, dirt, lint, oils and fingerprints. Such contamination can result in voids, lines and/or dull areas on printed cards. Contamination also can greatly reduce print-head life. Each print head is worth about $600.00 plus downtime. Handle all pre-printed cards from the edge, just as handling a photograph.
Before loading the hopper, fan out your cards to prevent them from sticking together.

In addition, always store cards in their original packaging or in a dust-free environment between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 32 degrees Celsius). If cards are dropped or soiled, do not attempt to use or to clean them. Throw them out and replace with clean, fresh cards. The primary benefits of clean cards are dramatic improvement in print-head life and increased consistency of high-quality printed images.

Cards are manufactured all over the world and can be purchased from a multitude of sources. While obtaining cards is easy, obtaining cards of acceptable quality for dye sublimation, direct-to-card printing can be a challenge. Some manufacturers use inexpensive production methods, punching cards out with dull dies that leave rough, jagged edges. Burrs on card edges can snag print heads and ribbons, resulting in defective card prints, not to mention costly print-head replacement expenses.

Cards produced in factories that have no quality control or "clean room" practices in place are often coated in dirt and debris. When a print head comes in contact with a dirty card surface, the dirt can crack the print-head pixels' cover and damage the pixels themselves. Broken pixels cannot transfer dye to card surfaces and will leave thin white streaks across a card. In addition, small pieces of dirt and debris on a card will appear in the print, making it unattractive and unprofessional looking.

Using high-quality cards means less cleaning, fewer reject cards, and fewer print-head replacements.

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