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Photo ID Guide

Why use photo ID?

Things to Consider before purchasing a photo ID system.

What are the different types of photo ID?

What are the different types of supplies and accessories?

Glossary.



Photo ID equipment and supply Guide

Why use photo ID?

Photo ID is used to identify people entering facilities, offices, schools and more. It provides safety and security by verifying and clearing people before being placed in sensitive and secure locations. Photo ID systems have changed over the years, but the end purpose remains the same.

Photo ID has slowly been moving from an analog Polaroid-style ID to the newer digital PVC card format. At ID house, we sell both systems. The older Polaroid style ID systems are still commonly used by schools and churches. Corporations, universities, government and hospitals typically use digital PVC card printers.

Due to the high demand of digital card printers, and the professional appearance that they create, cost has come down. It is now less expensive, in the long run, to use a digital card printer. Digital IDs are as easy as a few clicks of a mouse and computers can now easily store photos and templates making it easy to create new and replacement identifications.

There is also a wide variety of accessories that can be used with your photo ID system. Lanyards, badge holders, clips and badge reels make it easy to access and display your photo ID. Take a look at our wide selection of products. We have customer service representatives available to answer your questions and help you make an informed decision. Order your photo ID system today!

Things to Consider before purchasing a photo ID system.

What type of ID system do you need?
There are two different types of photo IDs to choose from. Polaroid-style IDs are more traditional and have been around longer. Digital card printer systems are newer and typically easier to use. Although digital systems cost more in the beginning, supplies are less money per photo ID, making digital systems less expensive in the long run. These two types of systems will be explained in greater detail, later in this guide.

What will your daily ID creation needs be?
Take a look at the size of your company. If you have 100 or fewer employees, a Polaroid or digital system may work for you. Both systems may suffice if you have more than 100 and only need to create a few dozen cards a day. Polaroid IDs take longer to make than digital card printers. If you are creating over 100 cards per week, it is usually recommended that you purchase a digital ID system. Digital ID cards systems can save ID templates and photos in a computer, allowing you to easily create an ID card in 30-50 seconds. Polaroid ID cards require that a new photo be taken, and after lamination can take up to five minutes to create.

What will your future needs be?
We always recommend, before purchasing anything, to take your future growth into consideration. We do not want you to purchase a piece of equipment and realize a year or two down the road that it canít keep up. We sell a wide variety of Polaroid ID camera systems and digital card printer systems. If you are not sure what system will work for your organization, you can call one of our trained customer service representatives and they can help you determine what system will work for you.

Do you need a magnetic or smart card encoder?
Digital card printers are typically used solely for printing a photograph and text on just one or two sides of a PVC card. Some time attendance systems and door entries require the use of a magnetic stripe (like you see on your credit card) or a smart card (a small encoded computer chip). Digital card printers can be factory-built with the capability of encoding data on a magnetic strip or smart card. Be sure of what you need before you purchase your machine. Magnetic-card encoders and smart card encoders can only be factory installed. Once you have your printer, these upgrades cannot be made.


What are the different types of ID systems?

Polaroid ID Systems

Die-Sublimation ID Card Systems

Inkjet ID Card System

ID Card Software


Polaroid ID Systems
Polaroid ID systems have been around for decades. The idea is very simple. A picture is taken with a specially designed Polaroid camera. Our cameras use 669 Polaroid film. Once the picture has developed (usually after about 60 seconds) the photo can be cut to size using scissors or a die cutter. This picture is then glued or attached to a pre-printed card that is later laminated. The end product can then be punched with a slot punch. This allows the ID to be used with a lanyard or badge clip. Polaroid ID systems are commonly used by elementary schools, pre-schools, churches and not-for-profit organizations.
Die-Sublimation ID Card Systems
Die-sublimation ID card printers are the most popular ID card printer on the market. They use a printer ribbon and print on PVC cards. The image is burned onto the PVC card using a thermal print head. The printing process is very simple. A computer has a pre-made template, usually created using photo ID software, that prints to the card printer. The process is much like printing to paper from a computer. Single-sided printing usually only takes about 30-60 seconds, depending on the printer.

Some digital card printers are monochrome, meaning it only prints one color. Monochrome ribbons are usually purchased in black, but are also available in red, blue, gold, silver and other colors.

Most digital card printers print full color, using a process called die sublimation. Ribbons typically consist of four different colored panels that when combined create a full color image. A clear panel is often included in the ribbon, creating a protective clear coat that allows the image to last longer and prevents it from being scratched.

Single-sided ID card printers only print on one side of a PVC card. Some customers will print on both sides of a card using a single-sided printer by running it through twice. You do risk, however, scratching the first image when running it through two times. If you need to print photos and text on both sides of a card, we recommend using a double-sided ID card printer. Double-sided printers quickly and easily print on both sides of the card in one pass.

ID card printers can be built with magnetic-stripe encoders and smart-card encoders. These features must be factory installed. It is much easier to purchase a digital card printer with these features installed than use third party hardware later on.
Inkjet ID Card System
Inkjet digital card printers use ink, like an inkjet printer, to create an image. These printers use a specially designed PVC card that absorbs the ink. The card is easily designed on a computer and printed. Inkjet technology for digital ID cards is relatively new. Although inkjet printers are less expensive up front than die-sublimation printers, the cost involved for cards and ink cartridges usually make inkjet printers more expensive to operate in the long run over their die sublimation counterparts.
ID Card Software
ID card software is what you use to create templates for ID card printers. Most ID card software is compatible with our printers. All the tools needed for creating an ID card is included with ID software. Different brands and versions of software are available. Higher-end software makes it easier to organize photographs and allows you to use the software with a database, among other things. ID card software is an absolute necessity if you are going to use a digital card printer. The software works with both die-sublimation and ink jet printers.


What are the different types of accessories and supplies?

Lanyards


Badge Strap Clips


Badge Holders


Badge Reels


Slot Punches


Die Cutters


Magnetic Stripe Encoder / Reader


PVC Cards


Ribbons


669 Film


Cloth Backdrops



Lanyards
Lanyards are threaded strands that can be attached to a photo ID, allowing them to be hung around your neck. Some look like shoe laces where others are nickel-plated bead chains. Lanyards are also available in a break-away style that allows the neck lanyard to snap off your neck if they get caught on an object. This prevents personal injury. Lanyards allow photo identification to be easily seen and presented.
Badge Strap Clips
Badge strap clips can be attached to an ID, allowing the ID to be attached to a shirt, jacket, lapel or other location on clothing. Badge strap clips are a popular alternative to lanyards and allow your photo identification to be easily presented and visible.
Badge Holders
Badge holders are very popular for use with photo IDs. These are commonly used with paper IDs and other IDs that need additional support. Some badge holders can be pinned to a shirt, clipped to a lapel or attached to a lanyard, depending on the style. We have several styles of badge holders to choose from.
Badge Reels
Badge reels are typically attached to a belt or other article of clothing. The badge reel can be attached to a photo ID and extended for easy presentation. They work much like retractable key reels that custodians use. They are available in several colors and styles.
Slot Punches
Slot punches punch a slot in lamination and PVC cards for use with badge reels, clips and lanyards. The hole is typically 1/8-inch wide by 1/2-inch long. Slot punches are ideal for in-house ID operations.
Die Cutters
Die cutters are punches designed to cut a specific shape. Our photo ID die cutters are perfect for use with Polaroid-style ID systems. Many of our customers that purchase an SX-2 or DX-2 camera for passport pictures will also purchase a two-inch by two-inch die cutter. This is much quicker for punching photos to size than using a pair of scissors.
Magnetic Stripe Encoder / Reader
Magnetic stripe encoder/ readers are used with PVC cards that have a magnetic stripe on them. There are two styles of magnetic stripes. There are high-coercivity and low-coercivity card encoders and cards. High-coercivity is typically used for credit cards and other long-term data. Low-coercivity cards are usually used for hotel keys, gift cards and company IDs. Low-coercivity, although not as long-lasting as high-coercivity, are used for cards that will have data re-written and changed on a regular basis. High-coercivity card readers can read both high and low. Our writer can only write low-coercivity.
PVC Cards
PVC Cards are used for printing photo identifications. They are commonly used in digital card printers. 30-mil, CR-80 PVC cards are the most common type of card used. This is the same style of PVC card used for credit cards. We also sell 10-mil cards with an adhesive back that can be used with proximity cards. PVC cards are also available in different plastic mixtures for different uses. Higher-quality cards use more polyester than PVC, allowing them to be more pliable and last longer.
Ribbons
There are a wide variety of printer ribbons available for die-sublimation printers. Monochrome and full color ribbons are available. Some ribbons have a clear overlay panel that helps protect ID images and prolongs the life of the identification. Some printer ribbons include two black resin panels. When printing an ID in black, using a full-color ribbon, the printer goes through all four color panels, even if you print one color. The extra black resin panel allows you to print black on the back of the card without going through four entire color panels, eliminating waste and saving you money. Hologram ribbons can also be purchased, placing a hologram on a card, adding authenticity and making
669 Film
Our composite ID cameras use a Polaroid 669 film. This film comes in a packet of two cartridges. Each cartridge includes 10 sheets of film. This film is high quality and creates vibrant photo ID pictures.
Cloth Backdrops
Cloth backdrops add a degree of professionalism to your photo identifications. White and blue are the two most common colors used. You can buy individual color backdrops or a packet that includes all the colors.


Glossary


Analog ID - Analog ID is an ID system that uses standard photograph film. Analog IDs typically use Polaroid film, but can use standard 30mm film as well.

Backdrop - Backdrops are usually colored cloth or paper that is set behind a person before an ID is taken. This helps provide an even background and provides good contrast for a high-quality photo.

Capture - The process of digitally taking a picture of a person and instantly putting it on a computer is called capturing.

Composite Cameras - Composite cameras use Polaroid film to take photographs for laminating ID cards.

Coercivity - Coercivity is the method used to encode a magnetic stripe. There are both high and low coercivity. High coercivity is a long-term solution for encoding cards (credit cards). Low coercivity is for short-term encoding of gift cards, hotel keys, IDs. High coercivity is black and low is brown.

Die Sublimation - Die sublimation is the process that most ID card printers use to print images onto PVC cards. A thermal print head burns an image from a four-or five-panel ribbon onto a card.

Digital ID - Digital ID systems use a computer and an interfaced printer to digitally create an identification.

Double-Sided - Double-sided printers are capable of printing on both the front and the back of an ID card.

Encoder - An encoder can be built into a digital card printer. Encoders are usually broken down into magnetic encoders for magnetic stripes and smart card encoders that encode smart card chips.

Magnetic Stripe - A magnetic stripe is a thin, 5/16-inch-wide stripe that appears on the back of a PVC card. Credit cards use a magnetic stripe. Some people incorrectly refer to a magnetic stripe as a magnetic strip.

Monochrome - Monochrome means one color. Monochrome ID printers are only capable of printing one single color. ID cards printed with a monochrome ID printer are much less expensive to create than full-color identifications.

Overlaminate - Some printer ribbons include an overlay panel that acts as a laminate. The overlaminate helps protect printed images on PVC cards from being scratched or rubbed off.

Printer Ribbons - Die sublimation printers use four-or five-panel printer ribbons. Single-panel printer ribbons are used in monochrome ID printers.

PVC - PVC is short for Polyvinyl Chloride. PVC is a common type of plastic that is used for creating ID cards, among other products.

Single-Sided - Single-sided printers are only capable of printing on one side of a PVC card.

Smart Card - Smart card chips, although more common in Europe, are capable of storing data. This data can be read by smart card readers and are ideal for storing employee and secure data.

System - Photo ID systems can be purchased as individual units or as complete systems. Complete digital ID systems include a computer, supplies, printer and software. Composite ID systems include a camera, stand, film and some include a laminator and die cutter.

Template - Templates are pre-made forms, either in digital or printed format, that are used to create photo ID cards. These templates usually have lines where a name, company and other data can be filled.

 
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