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Choosing the right secure ID card printing solution

October 18th, 2018

Some considerations from HID Global 

With security concerns ever on the rise, today’s enterprises and corporations, healthcare facilities, educational campuses and government agencies are seeking reliable, scalable and cost-effective solutions for producing secure ID badges on demand. Such credentials come in many forms and can be dedicated or multifunctional – from a simple photo identification (ID) card through badges that enable physical access to wall-mounted card readers or even multi-functional smart cards that incorporate more complex technologies, such as access to networks or protected data via laptops or mobile devices; tracking a person’s time and attendance; or cashless vending. 

The spectrum of available secure issuance solutions can seem overwhelming at first glance. There is a wide spectrum of possible solutions from multiple providers, but how to know the right one? The following considerations may help to find the decisive factors for the evaluation process, and to choose the right secure issuance solution for your needs. 

Security should be paramount, and its importance can never be overemphasized. It is important to select a secure issuance solution that can support a broad range of credential security measures in order to ensure that the investment is protected. Many printing solutions can support a wide range of visual and technical security elements to ensure that an organization’s identities are always secure and tamper-proof. 

The issue of credential durability relates to the efficacy of any secure ID card printing system, and it boils down to how effectively the issued credentials meet the usage requirements over the expected service life of the card. One point is the expected duration of card life and the environments to which cards will be exposed. Is the end credential an employee badge that will be worn outdoors and exposed to the elements? Or perhaps a magstripe card to be swiped through card readers multiple times a day for access to secured locations? 

The question regarding the card printing volume cannot easily be defined. How many cards are be printed and at what intervals? Will new cards be printed intermittently throughout the year or will large batches printed of cards at a time, several times a year? Some printer models are equipped to print larger volumes over time but only intermittently, whereas others were built to produce significant volumes in single large-batch runs. 

Critical factors in the context of functionality are whether to apply multiple processing steps simultaneously to the ID cards, such as encoding and lamination, and at what rate finished cards must be distributed. Many contemporary card printing and encoding systems are capable of performing multiple operations simultaneously, yielding high card throughput. Each individual station can work independently, yet simultaneously with other printer/encoder units, to seamlessly print visual personalization, encode data via one or multiple technologies – magnetic stripe, smart card, or proximity – and finally to apply layers of secure, protective lamination. 

Holistic thinking is the word when contemplating an ideal secure ID card printing solution with flexible interoperability. In what other ways might an ID badge be used in the organization? What other systems/functionalities are needed? Whether the company seeks to migrate simple ID badges into multi-functional technology cards or to increase security by tying into a Physical Access Control System (PACS), it is highly recommended to consider providers that offer a full spectrum of interoperable secure identity solutions. Is there a need for remote or wireless printing? Are solutions required that allow doing mobile, on-the-spot printing and encoding of secure IDs? There are various solutions that can support multiple connectivity options spanning USB for single PC connectivity, Ethernet for network printing, and Wi-Fi® for convenient wireless card printing. 

Today’s ID card printing solutions are quite sophisticated and convenient and as such, they require routine maintenance to perform optimally, particularly when potentially issuing thousands of ID cards a day. Advanced printers are engineered to minimize operator time and effort required for maintenance, thus maximizing uptime and system throughput.  As requirements change over time, organizations have to think about fully modular, field-upgradable solutionsthat can support new card personalization and security needs. As the size of the business increases, such foresight becomes crucial. Solutions should be modular with the ability to add features that allow technology migration or program expansion. For example, printers with built-in encoders that can assign permissions for access or data at the time of card printing combine what previously were multiple processes into a single, in-line card personalization step.




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