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Retransfer vs. Direct-to-Card Printers

Retransfer printing offers the highest print quality of all card printers. Read this article to learn about the advantages of using retransfer printers to create your ID badges, access control cards, and gift cards. 

If you are looking to print your own ID cards for your business, it pays to do your homework. There are two types of ID card printers in the market, and one of them could net you big savings in the long term.

Retransfer printers, like the Fargo HDP5000 use a two-step process called Reverse Thermal Image Transfer to print on ID cards. Reverse images are printed onto a flexible, transparent film, which is then fused with the card through heating. The result is an ID card that is more durable and tamper-proof. The bonded transparent film also acts as protective coating that keeps the image from fading over time.

Because image transfer is done on a separate transparent film that is slightly larger than the size of a standard CR-80 PVC card, retransfer printers are able to print on the entire surface of a card, including to the very edges of a card. Retransfer printers are also able to print edge-to-edge images on a variety of card types including smart cards, key tags, pre-punched cards, and proximity cards, among others. This method also lengthens the lifespan of the printer, as the printhead never touches the card, during the printing process.

The initial acquisition cost of Retransfer printers is relatively higher compared to direct-to-card ID card printers, but the savings on printhead maintenance costs make them a great investment.

In comparison, Direct-to-Card printers like the Fargo DTC550 Direct-to-Card Printer/Encoder print images directly onto the plastic card, instead of on to a laminate film first.

While capable of producing ID cards with great image quality, Direct-to-Card printers have some limitations. Cards printed using this technology are unable to print to the very edges of a card. This results in a while border being visible on the cards if the card design has a full-card background color or image. It is also incapable of printing images on cards with uneven surfaces like smart cards.

Do you still have questions? Let's talk. Call us at 1-800-667-1772.

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