Topics to Consider:
– Your ID System Budget
– The Type(s) of ID Cards you need
– Choosing the Right ID Card Printer
– Choosing Compatible ID Card Software
– Consider the Timing of Your Purchase
– Supplies Needed for Your System
– Maintenance & Support Plans
What is your budget for an ID card system?
Your budget may or may not be the deciding factor when making your ID system decisions. You can currently be operating with an entry level ID system for only a couple thousand dollars as long as you don’t have needs for quick, large volume printing or high technology cards.
Are you looking for a system to provide a quick photo identification on a plastic card, such as a K12 student ID, or do you need a secure one that can store money or unlock doors such as a university or hospital ID? The ID printer (or printers) themselves and the operating software will be the most expensive items in your system. Keep reading for help choosing which one your organization may need.
What type of ID cards do I need?
If you need a simple ID with basic information along with a photo and possible barcode, chances are you can use a basic box of blank plastic cards (CR80) that are usually sold in boxes of 500 each.
Another option would be a magnetic stripe card in case you need to use your IDs for more purposes than simple identification such as with your attendance system or library rentals, etc.
If you have more complex or higher security needs such as stored value or access control, you will want to look at smart cards and proximity cards. Your price per card will be higher in these cases because of the added technology within the card.
How do I know which ID printer I need?
One of the first decisions you will make when choosing an ID printer is whether or not you require single-sided or dual-sided printing.
You have probably already guessed that a single-sided printer will be more affordable and is sometimes the better choice for a K12 school or smaller business. If the only information you need on your card is the photo, identifying information including names and titles and a barcode, a single sided printer will get the job done.
Dual-sided printers should be considered when you require more information on your card or higher security features. They can save time by printing on both sides of the cards at once or flipping the card to print on one side and then the other automatically.
Don’t worry if you are unsure about which one to choose and you end up buying a single sided ID printer. There are choices, such as the Evolis Primacy 2, which allow you to purchase an update kit in order to upgrade your printer from single to dual sided printing at a later time.
How do I find compatible ID card software?
The best ID software will allow you to easily start designing and printing cards soon after your new system arrives. Choose your software based on what the intended use is of the card at your school or business. Simple cards that contain photos and barcodes can be printed by almost any software package you choose.
For more complex cards (such as smart cards or prox cards) you will need to check the feature list of the chosen software to make sure it can work with your unique campus set up. After speaking with your whole admin team, write up a list of everything you were hoping for when it comes to printing and maintaining your ID card program. Make note of any other campus systems that may need to share data with your ID system. If you need further help, feel free to contact us with any specific questions. Here at VDS we have been developing ID software for over 30 years and can help point you in the right direction.
How many cards do I need to print and by when?
Think about how many cards you will need when launching your new card project initially. If you need to card a large number of cardholders quickly (such as a college orientation) you may want to consider setting up multiple print stations. Your chosen printer will have an approximate number of cards per hour that it can handle, and you’ll want to avoid making people wait in long lines to obtain their cards. If you have a longer period of time to get your carding done, you can likely have only one or two systems going. Another option is to rent equipment to be used during peak times.
Pro Tip – You can now avoid long lines at the ID office by choosing online photo submission. Cardholders can submit their own photo to be used on the card and then come pick up their card when it is ready.
What supplies do I need for my ID card system?
Keeping things extremely simple, you can run an ID card system with just software, plastic ID cards, and an ID printer with a printer ribbon. If your computer or laptop doesn’t have a way to capture photos, you will also need a USB web cam or an entry level DSLR camera for better photo quality.
However, there are a few other items you may want to consider to make the most of your ID system. First, think about how many cards you will need to print in any given year and make sure you have enough printer ribbons to cover that amount plus a little extra considering there are always people that end up losing their cards and require a reprint.
Next, don’t forget that your ID printer will need regular maintenance to keep working properly. Follow the instructions for your printer brand, but this usually means using a cleaning kit and following through with periodic cleaning cycles. These are likely required in order to maintain your printer warranty. Without regular cleaning you may find yourself needing to replace the print head which can be costly.
Other items you should add to your list, especially if you are a school, include lanyards and either card sleeves or a card hole punch. This is a great opportunity to show some school spirit as you can customize your lanyards to include your colors or slogans.
What if I need help with my ID system?
Technical support plans will give you peace of mind when it comes to your ID card system. Depending on your own technical knowledge and the complexity of your ID system you may require additional support to get your system up and running, or regularly throughout the year to help with issues that may arise.
When choosing your system, it’s best to make sure that there is at least some level of assistance for you. Once you have your system set up and test cards printed, you may require database integration help.
Did You Know? – Every VDS system has yearly maintenance plans available to keep your ID system running smoothly year after year.