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Whether to pre-print static areas of the institution's cardstock or rely on desktop printers to add all the elements on the fly is an important and debatable topic. There are tangible benefits - both in terms of the cards themselves and the process of issuing them -for a university that pre-prints its cardstock. But there are also drawbacks related to flexibility and timeliness.
ColorID's higher education & K-12 market manager, Tim Nyblom, spoke with CR80News about when pre-printing card stock is appropriate, why a university should consider it, and most importantly, how they should do it.
"Pre-printing is for universities that want a professional-grade cardstock and recognize that cost is not the primary concern," says Nyblom. "It creates a longer lasting card with superior color quality and provides a more robust final product than a standard desktop printer can yield."
Professional aesthetics and longer lifespans aren't the only benefits, however. As Nyblom explains, pre-printing enables a university to expedite the issuance process, as there is less area for the printer to cover, allowing the ID card to be completed quicker.
"Pre-printed cardstock using lithographic or digital presses is made via layers and the artwork layer is protected by a thick clear sheet of laminate," explains Nyblom. "Desktop ID printers print on the outside layer of a manufactured card and thus is prone to fading over time."
Pre-printed cards offer a noticeably better print quality that cannot be matched using a desktop ID printer.
"Pre-printed cardstock gives you 3,000 DPI (Dots per square inch), whereas desktop ID printers can only reach 600 DPI," he explains. "It also allows a university to utilize the Pantone Matching System to recreate their brand's specific colors."
More than one way to pre-print
Deciding whether or not to pre-print is just the first step. Next is choosing the printing method and whether to do the work in house or outsource to a third-party vendor.As Nyblom explains, there are three pre-printing methods that a university can choose from: lithographic printing, high definition/digital press printing, and dye sublimation.
"In house pre-printing is usually done with a high issuance desktop ID printer utilizing the dye sublimation method," explains Nyblom. "This method is good when low quantities, single-sided printing or monochrome (one color) printing is needed."
Nyblom stresses that the in-house method using a desktop dye sublimation printer is not to be confused with outsourcing via lithographic or digital press printing. "Once a card has passed through a desktop ID printer, you do not want to print on that same side again as the print head and ribbon can stick to the already printed cardstock," he says.
In the campus card market where card fronts are almost always personalized to the individual, in-house dye sublimation pre-printing is typically only considered for static card backs as a time saving measure.
This is not the case, however, with other printing methods. "Having your static design pre-printed via a lithographic or digital press first and then printing your variable information with your desktop ID printer is the best route to take," says Nyblom. Variable information often includes elements such as cardholder photo, name, ID number and barcode.
Nyblom explains that lithographic printing is ideal for large quantity runs of 5,000 cards or more. The printing is of an extremely high quality, offering a 3,000 DPI resolution, and has the ability to print a large number of colors, including specific spot colors - often referred to as PMS or Pantone colors.
"In this process, the cards are manufactured from large plastic sheets consisting of 28, 56 or 70 cards per sheet that are then cut down into individual cards," explains Nyblom. "The cards are built up through different layers of materials including clear plastic, PVC and PET."
Another avenue is High Definition printing, otherwise known as Digital Press printing. This method is ideal for low to mid-level quantities from 500 up to 10,000 cards, while still offering up to 3,000 DPI print resolution.
The main difference from Lithographic, as Nyblom explains, is that digital press plastic sheets typically consist of only 21 cards per sheet. "Universities that opt for digital press can still utilize multiple colors for their cards and incorporate Pantone colors for their unique and custom branding," he adds.
While the other methods mass produce printed cardstock, dye sublimation printing is done one card at a time on pre-assembled ID cardstock, and is generally used for low-volume printing. "The dye sublimation process will apply color to the cardstock one color at a time: yellow, magenta, cyan and then black," says Nyblom. "Since this process only uses a four color process, it is not able to match PMS (Pantone) colors. It's a process that is excellent for quick turn projects, low quantities and variable printing jobs."
The case against pre-printing
Still, pre-printing cardstock may not always be the answer. "If a school is just launching their ID card program, I'd suggest starting off with utilizing a blank cardstock first," Nyblom says. "This will allow them to adjust and change their card design to what works for them. After the university gains more experience and has identified what matters to them, then I would suggest migrating to a pre-printed cardstock."
Traditionally, the arguments against pre-printing highlighted the lack of flexibility it carries. Once a large quantity of cards is ordered and printed, changes to card design are not possible. If these changes are mandated any remaining inventory must be discarded.
Additionally, inventory management becomes more crucial. If cards run out during the middle of an orientation session, it can cripple the issuance process and take weeks to replenish supplies.
Finally, for small quantity issuers pre-printing may not be cost effective despite its benefits.
Pre-printing is a great way for a university to expedite its card issuance, while also boosting the overall quality of its campus IDs. By understanding the pre-printing options that are available and the institution's specific requirements, pre-printing can offer a significant value add to campus card services.
Check out the following article by CR80News & ColorID regarding mag stripes and the University market
CR80News Article link (click on picture or text)
About ColorID, LLC
Every year, ColorID assists more than 1000 colleges and universities and their project managers personally oversee 700 custom projects each year, including many small and large recarding projects. ColorID offers best-in-class products and solutions, including: contactless, smart and financial cards from every major manufacturer, multiple ID printer platforms; transaction and point-of-sale software and hardware, a variety of handheld devices for identification and tracking applications and biometrics solutions, including fingerprint and iris readers. The company’s manufacturing partners include: Iris ID, HID, Fargo, Datacard, CardSmith, Gemalto, Zebra, NiSCA, Evolis, Allegion, Aptiq, Magicard, Brady People ID, Integrated Biometrics, Oberthur, NBS, Vision Database Systems and many others.
Contact ColorID at 704-987-2238 or toll free in Canada and the US at 888-682-6567. Visit ColorID on the web at: www.colorid.com or email ColorID at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following is a recent ColorID & CR80News article on ID Card Printers and the things you need to consider when repairing, servicing and extending your initial warranty.
This fall, ColorID will be presenting a three part webinar series on Cards, Security and Payments, designed specifically for colleges and universities. To make sure that you don't miss any of this important information, we will be presenting each session twice over a 3 week period. Register to attend each of the three webinars below by clicking the "Register here" hyperlink.
Please forward to any additional departments on your campus that you feel could benefit from this webinar series.
ColorID FALL WEBINAR SERIES - "Making Sense of Campus Card Systems", Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2pm ET.
Session # 1 (multiple dates for session 1):
Wednesday Sept. 25, 2pm ET
Thursday Sept. 26, 2pm ET
Session 1 - Register Here
CARDS Session 1 Description:
The series will open with the ever popular topic of card technologies - what's new, how they work, and which brands of cards and readers should we consider migrating to? This session will also include a discussion of contactless card data encryption, inline printing and encoding, how to re-card a campus, using your cards with the local transit systems and using mobile (phone) credentials instead of cards.
Session # 2 (multiple dates for session 2):
Wednesday Oct. 2, 2pm ET
Thursday Oct. 3, 2pm ET
Session 2 - Register Here
SECURITY Session 2 Description:
This will be a broad overview of the identification technologies that campuses are using to keep their people, facilities and systems safe and running smoothly. Subjects to be covered will include trends in Physical Access Control Systems (PACS), biometrics for security and convenience in dining halls and athletic facilities, visitor management systems, tracking people and assets with mobile devices, credentials for logical access to systems and networks, and again, how phones can provide a mobile approach to these systems.
Session # 3, (multiple dates for session 3):
Wednesday Oct. 9, 2pm ET
Thursday Oct. 10, 2pm ET
Session 3 - Register Here
PAYMENTS Session 3 Description:
There are many new developments in the payments industry - EMV, NFC, open loop, closed loop, cloud-based services and financial aid reimbursement cards to name a few. Given that the transaction management system is a vital part of a university's service offering to its cardholders, what do you need to know to make good decisions for the next ten years? This session will discuss the pros and cons of cloud-based systems, mag stripe vs. contactless cards at the point of sale, phones for POS, open loop bank cards (VISA, MC, AMX and Discover), off-campus merchant programs, and EMV.
If you would like to take part in the ColorID Fall Webinar Series - "Making Sense of Campus Card Systems", click on the registration links listed above. You will be required to register for each of the three sessions we are presenting.
We look forward to having you participate in this webinar series, if you have any questions or issues registering please contact email@example.com today.
ColorID will be hosting a web presentation for the Higher Education market on "Migrating to Contactless Technology: What You Need to Know in 2013", Wednesday February 27, 2013 at 2:00 pm EST (additional dates to follow).
If your campus is thinking of migrating from mag stripe or prox cards to contactless smart cards; you know there are many decisions to make before you place your first order. Which technology, what manufacturer and what type of applications do I need to consider? We will focus on the factors you need to consider in order to make the right decision.
David Stallsmith will be presenting, and he is a regular speaker at NACCU and other campus card conferences and has helped individuals and groups at hundreds of universities, hospitals and government agencies understand card technology.
Topics in the presentation:
Encoding Magstripes 101
Knowing what you can encode onto your magstripe may be the most difficult part in the encoding process. Magstripe encoders are readily available and in the identification world the ID Badge printer is the device that manages this; however desktop and handheld swipe encoders are also a popular choice. ID Badge printers utilize an ID Software program for encoding however the desktop and handheld encoders usual come with a software that allows you to set parameters to what it is you're encoding.
What can I encode?
The following is an illustration of what a 3 track magstripe allows us to encode onto it. The same parameters are accurate in the event you are using a 1 track or 2 track magstripe.
ColorID has been following the recent developments behind EMV (Europay, MasterCard & Visa) migration in the US. Over the past year, American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa have announced their plans for moving to an EMV-based payments infrastructure in the U.S. We'll keep you posted on how migrating from our current mag stripe to a contact/contactless payment method will affect you and your cardholders. The following are facts from the timeline and mandates:
Fall of 2011, Visa issued a plan to accelerate the migration to contact chip and contactless EMV chip technology in the U.S. EMV technology will help prepare the U.S. payment infrastructure for the arrival of Near Field Communication (NFC)-based mobile payments by building the necessary infrastructure to accept and process contactless chip transactions. Not only will chip technology accelerate mobile innovations, it is also expected to enhance payment security through the use of dynamic authentication. Chip technology greatly reduces a criminal's ability to use stolen payment card data by introducing dynamic values for each transaction. Even if payment card data is compromised, a counterfeit card would be unusable at the point of sale (POS) without the presence of the card's unique elements. By eliminating static authentication, there is a reduction for the value of stolen cardholder data, benefiting all stakeholders.
Visa's plan includes merchant incentives to upgrade to EMV & Contactless chip-enabled terminals, requirements for acquirer processors to support chip acceptance and the introduction of U.S. liability shift policies.
As such 3 dates have been set by Visa and they have been backed by MasterCard, American Express and Discover.
October 2012: Waive Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance validation requirements to encourage merchant investment in contact and contactless chip payment terminals. Will also require acquirer processors to ensure that their systems support dynamic data acceptance (i.e., chip) and will institute a domestic and cross-border counterfeit liability shift.
April 2013: Will require U.S. acquirer processors and sub-processor service providers to be able to support merchant acceptance of chip transactions no later than April 1, 2013. This is the only mandate that Visa has introduced into the US market, as Liability shift is not considered a mandate. Chip acceptance will require service providers to be able to carry and process additional data that is included in chip transactions, including the cryptographic message that makes each EMV transaction unique. Will provide additional guidance as part of its bi-annual Business Enhancements Release for acquirer processors to certify that their systems can support EMV contact and contactless chip transactions.
October 2015: Plans that effective 1 October 2015, the U.S. will be included in the Global POS Liability Shift Policy, which will apply to all issuers and merchants' acquirers in the U.S., with the exception of transactions at Automated Fuel Dispensers (AFDs). Transactions made at AFDs will be excluded from the liability shift for a period of two (2) years due to the challenges faced by the petroleum industry in upgrading terminals to accept EMV chip cards. Similarly, effective 1 October 2017, transactions made at AFD terminals will be included in the Global POS Liability Shift Policy.
Pre-Printing Card Options:
There are numerous types of ways to print onto a plastic identification card. The three most popular pre-printing options are:
High Definition/Digital Press: High Definition or Digital Press printing is ideal for low to mid-level quantities from 500 up to 10,000 cards. This process offers up to 3,000 DPI print resolution. The main difference from Lithographic is digital press plastic sheets are usually only 21 cards per sheet. End users can utilize multiple colors for their cards and incorporate PMS (Pantone) colors for their unique and custom branding. The proofing process has always been digital with high definition digital presses.
Dye Sublimation: Dye sublimation printing is done one card at a time on pre-assembled ID cardstock. This printing method is generally used for low volume printing. The dye sublimation process will apply color to the cardstock one color at a time: Yellow, Magenta, Cyan and then Black. Since this process only uses a four color process it is not able to match PMS (Pantone) colors. This process is excellent for quick turn projects, low quantities and variable printing jobs.
If you call ColorID we can help you decide what process is best for your project. We will ask several questions that we help us determine what is the best trade-off of cost, speed and the details of the final product. ColorID has many years of experience managing large and small projects and can help you identify what printing process is best for your carding project.
This week's post is a quick tip related to operating systems and ID badge printers. Many organizations are moving over to a Microsoft Windows 7 Operating System.
This transition may directly affect your ID card printing system. Before your organization makes the switch check to see if your ID badge printer will work with Windows 7. If your printer is not on this list, please e-mail me your printer model and we can check the compatibility.
If you are changing your operating system to Windows 7, please keep this in mind:
Why Should I Tune-Up my Printer?
Your ID printer needs to be able to print on a consistent basis, day in and out. We have all had scenarios where an unforeseen amount of cardholders come at the same exact time needing a card, only to have the printer stop working and have to deal with the frustration of not being able to offer the service we would like. Finding time to have your printer tuned-up can be difficult; however the benefits far outweigh the risks of not getting regular maintenance.
Here are just a few of the key steps that should be included in an ID Printer Tune-up:
Request a tune-up today
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