ID card printers work the same way a typical inkjet printer does. Your office printer sucks in a blank piece of paper, prints on it, and then spits out the finished product for you to use immediately. In the same way, an ID card printer sucks in a blank white PVC card, prints your design and then spits the card out so that you can use it right away.
While they are easy to use like your paper printer, printing on plastic requires a different process and internal parts. This means, ID card printers are generally more expensive than inkjet printers.
Know the Differences
If you are just starting to research ID printers, it's important to know what you need it to do because there are tons of options out there.
If you are interested, read about the different ID card printer features.
Some are made to print one hundred cards per year while others are made to print thousands of cards per year. . . and priced to match. It’s pretty easy to find which one is the best fit for you.
Pro Tip: Buying a printer often does not come with everything you need. It’s more common to buy a Complete One-box System that comes with the printer, card design software, camera and supplies.
Do I Need an ID Card Printer?
If you have employees or provide cards to customers you need the ID cards, but whether you need to buy an ID printer comes down to two factors:
1. Immediate Issuance – Do you need to use your cards immediately? If so, printing them in-house with an ID card printer is your only option.
2. Quantity – If you only need a few cards per year, you can probably use an online service where you can pay per card. Check out IDville On Demand card printing service. If you need a hundred or more, the math suggests it’s the best decision financially to buy an ID card system. This is because a service will cost you $7 per card or more while the printer is a large upfront cost but the cards cost roughly $0.70 per card after that.
(card qty x card price) x number of years = Service cost
(100 card x $7) x 5 years = $3500
printer price + ((card qty x card price) x number of years) = Printer Cost
$1500 + ((100 cards x $0.70) x 5 years) = $1850
While printers have a large up front cost, their cheap cost per card pays dividends down the road. Printers often last around 10 years so imagine the price difference using 10 years instead of 5!
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