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What is Full Bleed? How Do I Print Full Bleed on Plastic Cards?

When designing artwork for printing, whether for ID cards, access passes or hotel key cards, it is important to understand the concept of full bleed.

Full bleed refers to artwork, which may include blocks of texts, graphics or a background image, that is printed on a surface that covers all of its edges. This effect is achieved by printing the artwork on a sheet or surface that is larger than the final product.

For example, a 1/8-inch bleed is added to the layout of the design before the document is submitted for printing.  After printing, everything outside the area labeled, “safe zone” is trimmed mechanically according to specified dimensions.  Mechanical variations during the trimming process sometimes leave hairline white edges on the final product. Bleeding eliminates this.

To print full bleed on plastic cards, extend the background on all sides as specified, depending on card to be used. For example, if you are designing a standard 3.5 x 2 inch business card, make sure to set your original template to 3.75 x 2.25 inches.  If you are using credit card-sized CR-80 cards, remember to add 1/16” to the dimensions on all sides of the artwork and avoid using cards with thickness less than 30 mil as it is not possible to print full bleed artworks on those cards.

Note: Only retransfer printers can print full bleed. Direct-to-card printers cannot print full bleed.


To talk to a card printing professional about full bleed printing on plastic cards, call us at 1-800-667-1772You can also reach us through e-mail.

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