One of the most important factors you should consider when choosing and ID card printer is how many cards you expect to print in each session and during any given year. Most ID card printers can be broken up into three groups – low volume, medium volume, and high volume printers. We’ll help you decide which one is right for your card printing needs.
Low Volume/Small Batch Printing: < 1,000 Cards Annually
If you will be printing in small batches, creating fewer than 1,000 cards per year, and don’t require advanced security or card encoding options, a low-volume card printer may be able to produce the same print quality as higher-end models, for a much lower upfront cost. Keep in mind that many low-volume card printers are also entry-level models. Entry-level printers are the least expensive, but often do not have a wide range of options and do not offer the highest print quality. They are great for low-level security needs.
Our preferred low volume card printer choices are:
Standard Volume/Medium Batch Printing: 1,000 to 5,000 Cards Annually
Medium-sized card issuance programs should invest in a printer than can produce more cards per printing. Mid-level printers include standard volume printing and are ideal for organizations that will print up to 5,000 cards per year. Some brands offer two model options for standard volume printing – with a slightly more expensive model that includes more options or can print at somewhat higher volumes.
Our preferred standard volume printer choices are:
- AlphaCard PRO 500 (Single or Double Side)
- Datacard SD260 (Single Side)
- Datacard SD360 (Double Side)
- Evolis Zenius – (Single Side)
- Evolis Primacy (Single or Double Side)
- Fargo DTC 1250e (Single or Double Side)
- Fargo DTC 4250e (Single or Double Side)
- Magicard Enduro (Single Side)
- Magicard Enduro Duo (Double Side)
- Zebra ZXP Series 3 (Single or Double Side)
High Volume/Large Batch Printing: < 5,000 Cards Annually
Some organizations will need to buy a printing powerhouse – featuring high-volume ribbon capacities and designed to be used many times a day, often with multiple users. While the upfront cost may be higher on these models, the warranties are typically better and there are more security options available.
Our preferred high-volume plastic card printers include:
- AlphaCard PRO 700 (Single or Double Side)
- Evolis Quantum (Single or Double Side)
- Fargo DTC 4500e (Single or Double Side)
- Magicard Rio Pro (Single or Double Side)
- Zebra ZXP7 (Single or Double Side)
ID CARD GROUP TIPS:
Unless you will be using your printer every day or need high-level security features, you can save quite a bit by purchasing a less expensive entry-level (low volume) or mid-level (standard volume) card printer. It works in 80% of card print situations.
Look at a printer’s Input and Output Hopper size AND the Ribbon Capacities to see what it print volume it can handle. Don’t buy a printer that has too a small hopper and 100 qty ribbons if you have heavy print volumes. But if you need to print one card at a time, a single-feed printer might be all you need!
It’s important to have the power you need now and into the future. Luckily, several card printers offer a flexible, modular design (also called Field Upgradable). If you suspect your card print needs will increase over time, make sure to get a printer that can be upgraded easily.
How-to Series: Choosing an ID Card Printer
- Choosing an ID Card Printer – Introduction
- Choosing an ID Card Printer – Top 3 Factors At a Glance
- Choosing an ID Card Printer – Part 1: Card Printing Volume
- Choosing an ID Card Printer – Part 2: Desired Card Appearance
- Choosing an ID Card Printer – Part 3: Security Options
- Infographic: How to Choose an ID Card Printer
- Video: What to Look for when Buying an ID Card Printer
- Bonus – Expert Reviews of Top Printer Brands & Models
We can also walk you through other technical issues our customers face, including warranty terms, connectivity, operating system compatibility, print speed and reliability.
ID Card Group accepts purchase orders, provides free shipping on orders over $100, and has a price match guarantee.