Infordata Sistemi Srl

Card Printing and Personalization

Card Printing and Personalization

Perfection in card printing:
Innovation, quality, timing, prices


Perfection in card printing means:

- continuous research of the best quality, innovation in printing methodology, respect of production schedule and advantageous prices. This our continuous effort is deep-seated in all components of our working team from over 15 years. During all that period we have been tried to reach from our customers reputation of a honest and loyal partnership and to solve every time their needs. And millions of printed cards is a clear proof of this.

If you need plastic cards:
- with or without magnetic strip
- with a smart card chip
- with a proximity chip
- printed or blank cards

we invite you to ask us a quotation. We'll be glad to replay you!

If you have any enquiry or you need any clarifications about PVC cards in general we invite you to read information that follows.


Plastic card.

Material: plastic card can be produced with several materials, like PVC, Polypropylene, PET, PETg, polyester or polystyrene.

The commonly used material is PVC. The card could be laminated or not, the most common are laminated because they permit a quality thermal or dye sublimation printing.

ISO 7816 cards are laminated.

ISO 7816 standard fixes the physical dimensions: width 85,59 mm, height 54,98 mm and thickness 0,76 mm.

Other possible thickness are 0,30, 0,40 and 0,82 mm (the last one for chip cards).


Printing of plastic cards.

LTo print plastic cards is possible to use various technologies depending on the quantity, quality, type of cards, etc. The most important techniques are:
1. Typographic print including off-set lithographic print or silk screen print for editions over some thousands of pieces.
2. Direct thermal graphic mode suitable for small series up to some thousand pieces and for cards to be personalized with variable data.
3.Indirect thermal graphic mode suitable for small series up to some thousand pieces, for cards to be personalized with variable data and especially for cards with surface not perfectly flat (chip or RFID cards).


1. Typographic print.

The typographic print is more complex but assures the best results. Since requires expensive preparation activities it becomes economically interesting only for quantities of card over some thousand pieces (1,000 pcs.) and for all those cases where is impossible to use other methods (for example silk screen print). Ordering typographic print of cards you must consider the following important factors affecting the final price of the card:

- the print may be edge to edge or not. In the first case the graphic for the card (and consequently the PVC to be used) must exceed the standard dimension of it because the punching operation of single card from greater sheet has a tolerance ±1% (added cost for more material). In the second case is used only the PVC in dimension equal to the standard one of the card.
- It is possible to apply two printing technologies: LYTOGRAPHIC e SILK SCREENprint.

In the first case you may choose between the print in four basic colours (Yellow, Cyan, Magenta and Black YCMK)or using Pantone colours.

- the first one is a mix of four basic colours (YCMK) and the result is not a full colour imagine but is formed looking through a magnifying lens from a lot of dots printed in four basic colours. The result of final imaging depends of course on the background colour of PVC support which can be more or less azure.
In the second case using Pantone colours the result of imagine is better because the printed colour is full (no dot) and azure background of PVC doesn’t affect the printed colour.
- When you desire to obtain bright and full colours or a metallic look (for example gold or silver) you may choose the silk screen print. This method is quite different from the lithographic print because every colour mast dry individually and therefore the process is longer and more expensive. An important parameter in silk screen print is the register mark that is the precise correspondence between silk printed area and the area printed with other method (for example lithographic) on the same card. Another problem arises when we print with lithographic method over a silk printed background because the last one could distort the result of over printed colour. This distortion is lower when are over printed darker colours. Sometimes this transparency effect is desired especially when the background is silver, gold or perlaceous its reflection through the over printed YCMK colour makes more bright this one. If you want to avoid this transparency it is necessary to cover with white Pantone colour the area of the card to be overprinted with YCMK colour.
- The SIGNATURE STRIP may be applied by roll-on method or by silk screen print. The first one is formed by a strip applied on the card by heat and pressure. It is used when are requested white standard panels without overprinting. The signature silk printed panel may be standard or out of it (as measures), transparent or in clear colour. It permits to be overprinted increasing the security (the attempt to cancel the signature leaves a track).
- The MAGNETIC PANEL may be applied by roll-on method (applied on the card by heat and pressure) or flush-on type (drowned into the lamination foil). The first one is available only for LoCo (Low Coercitivity 300 Oe) intensity, the second one is MeCo (Medium Coercitivity 2.750 Oe), HiCo (High Coercitivity 4.000 Oe). The standard width of the magnetic strip is 12,5mm and has three writable tracks. Usually is applied on the back side of the card at 4mm from the top.

For other details please don’t hesitate to contact our salesmen.


2. Dye Sublimation and Thermal Transfer

Most plastic card printers produces images using either thermal transfer (monochrome models) or dye diffusion (colour models). Both of this processes produce images through the heat transfer of dyes from a ribbon to the surface of the plastic cards using a 300 dpi (dots per inch) image head.
Monochrome, or the printing of a single colour, can create a gray scale of the chosen ribbon colour using dithering techniques. With dithering, a pixel comprises a small matrix of dots. Lighter or darker pixels results as a function of the number of dots imaged within a pixel matrix. Colour models let users print their computer files at essentially photographic quality using Dye Diffusion technology. This premier technology creates true 300 dpi (dots per inch) images on the card media.
In colour models, exceptional image quality derives from a process where each pixel (picture element) results from measured quantities of the basic colours Yellow, Cyan, Magenta and Black (YCMK). This is somewhat similar to the four-colour process used by offset printing presses to create such full-colour renderings as seen in magazines. However, offset printed images seldom go very much beyond 100 dpi. Also, the offset process uses screening to mix basic colours, which varies dot size for images separated into YCMK primaries. Dye Diffusion mixes the primaries by varying YCMK densities. Thermo graphic printers we deal with produce in excess of one million colour shades through 20-bit imaging.
The dye from the ribbon is applied to the plastic card via a multi-pass operation. This means the card will pass under the print head once for each of the three coloured ribbon panels, applying each colour separately.


3. Reverse or retransfer printing.

This process prints images on the reverse side of a retransfer film. The film is then laminated to the surface of a PVC card with heat and pressure. The process uses the same four colour panels as a dye sublimation printer but produces much higher quality because the dye bleeds less on the film than it does on a PVC card. Also, since the film is laminated to the card it is virtually impossible to tamper with the card without destroying it.

4. Card Lamination.

Various types of materials are used to protect plastic cards from abrasion, wear, fading, alteration and duplications. Overlay varnishes and laminate patches are the most common materials used to enhance card durability and security. Card durability has to do with how well the card withstands various forms of environmental stress. They include resistance to abrasion, such as passing the card through a magnetic stripe or bar code reader, protection from image fading when exposed to sunlight, and resistance to damage when immersed in water or exposed to chemicals.
Another important factor in applications such as driver's licensing is resistance to tampering, alteration and/or replication. With the use of protective materials such as laminate patches with holograms, cards can be constructed to eliminate the potential of tampering and alteration.
Card security means that the card can be verified for authenticity. Techniques include the application of overlay varnish or overlaminate materials with hologram images. Use of these materials in constructing cards makes replication by anyone without access to the custom hologram image materials virtually impossible.

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