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The 4 Card Printer Add-Ons to Consider

Did you know that you can add new features to your existing ID card printer using add-ons? Learn more about printer upgrades in this article.

The features listed below are usually sold as add-on options (although they do come standard on a few models). You can specify which additional modules you want incorporated when you buy your id card printer to make sure you get everything you want in one package. Of course, lots of manufacturers build their id card printers in such a way that you don’t have to make that decision up front - you can add the bells and whistles later.



There are two ways to add lamination. One is a “top coat” which is the “O” component of a YMCKO ribbon, “O” means “Overlay”. The topcoat is not as durable as a separate laminate. There is nothing to add to a card printer - just buy the ribbon with the “O” in its description. If you want more durable card protection, add a laminate. Laminates usually comes in rolls and are applied to the card by an optional “laminator”. Laminates come in various thicknesses. Lamination slows down card production output but increases card life. Laminates can be ordered with custom holograms and other security features that make card duplication more difficult and costly. Laminates protect what is printed on the card.


Magnetic Stripe Programming

You can buy image quality blank cards that have a HiCo or LoCo mag stripe affixed to it. The mag stripe is encoded by an optional encoder in the card printer. The data for encoding is provided by the card production software. The stripe encoder module on the ID card printer uses electromagnetic stimulation to add data to each card. The same encoder can be used to program both HiCo and LoCo cards so you don’t have to buy separate equipment for each. On some models, the encoder can also be used as a mag stripe reader. Usually special programming is required. ID Superstore has expertise in providing this programming. Most encoders can erase and/or rewrite information onto a card’s magstripe. The encoding software has the ability to encode 3 separate “tracks” or sets of information making each card useful for several different applications. Mag stripe is the most popular way of storing digital data on a card. It is also the least secure.


RFID Encoding

Radio frequency identification devices (RFIDs) were invented over 50 years ago. RFID chips are now miniaturized and inexpensive to mass produce. They can be incorporated into plastic ID cards. An RFID reader reads an RFID tag within a plastic card, label, button, etc. Data is remotely accessed from a few inches to a few feet away. You may want to choose this option for employees and contractors to access secure facilities. The card can be held close to a reader to open a gate or door. Unlike the magnetic stripe variety, these RFID cards don’t have to be swiped. Embedded chips can also be laminated over without interfering with the radio signal. These two benefits preserve RFID cards from a great deal of daily wear and tear. Additionally, most RFID transponders do not contain a battery and are simply activated by proximity to the antenna in the card reader. This means the chip itself can last for many years without wearing out.


Smart Chip Data Loading

A basic “Smart” card contains an integrated circuit chip and is capable of processing various types of data. Smart chips are often simple data storage and/or transfer devices used for taking information from point A to point B or for access control. The most advanced variety contains a microprocessor that can execute read/write functions when plugged into a computer or other receiving device. Smart chips are very secure and are popular for handling sensitive information. Smart cards can contain an enormous amount of information compared to magnetic stripe cards and are not susceptible to being disrupted by stray magnetic fields. They are currently available in “contact” and “contactless” varieties. Contact style smart cards must be slotted into a data port or other receiver to work. Contactless smart cards blend RFID technology with integrated circuitry giving you added convenience. Each type requires a different encoding system.


For more information about choosing your card printer contact our experienced sales team.

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