A Beginner’s Guide to Setting Up & Running
Your Own ID Card and Badge Printing System
The ID card/badge printing industry has changed dramatically over the past few years as virtually any business or organization is now able to to bring the entire process in-house.
This is an exciting development for every organization seeking to improve security and manage the movement of workers and visitors.
But as with any new development, this change also comes with some challenges and at least a bit of a learning curve.
Even if you have already embarked on setting up your own ID card/badge printing system, chances are there are elements of this development that deserve your attention.
In this article, we will attempt to present a detailed overview of the ID card/badge printing systems and answer all the questions you may have about them.
Components vs. systems
The vast majority of our customers come to us to purchase individual components like an ID card printer, card design software, a camera or a card reader.
The reason is simple. They already have a system in place. They just need to replace or upgrade from time to time.
But if you’re just starting out, you don’t have anything and you need everything. Most importantly, you have no experience or understanding of what works with what – and so you hesitate and put off the decision to another time.
That’s why we created a bundled system – so you can have confidence you are heading down the right path and making the right decisions. You want to be sure you have a system that is right for you and your needs – and you want to be sure that every component is designed to work together.
What is an ID card/badge printing system?
An ID card/badge printing system is a collection of hardware and software products designed to help you create and print ID cards and badges from scratch. And to use those cards for security or visitor management purposes.
This includes the ability to photograph individuals, design the look of the badge, then print the badge on a hard plastic card that is embedded with the desired form of security technology. Users can then use the cards with various card readers to access locked rooms and spaces.
How are ID cards or badges used?
ID cards and badges have many applications.
From a security standpoint, they are used to ensure that only authorized personnel can have access to certain rooms, spaces or equipment.
This is a common application for corporations, government buildings, hospitals, assisted living and nursing home complexes, colleges and construction sites.
ID cards and badges can also be used for human resources, visitor tracking and business management purposes.
- A health club or gym uses ID cards to track visits and club usage – including participation in classes, personal training or other programs. This also helps to alert management when members are likely to cancel their memberships.
- Hospital managers can use ID cards to track patient activity – including tests, procedures and medications – which can they be applied to billing.
- Schools can use ID cards to monitor student attendance and participation in classroom activities.
- Companies of all types can use ID cards to monitor employee attendance and/or equipment usage.
- Conferences and trade shows can use ID badges to simplify data collection from attendees.
- Cafeterias in schools, businesses and government offices can use ID cards to manage pre-pay programs.
What are the key components of a system?
A complete system includes
- ID badge creation software
- ID card printer
- Printer ribbons and supplies
- Blank cards
- Card reader
Here’s an overview of the individual components
1-ID Badge Creation Software
Before you can print the ID card, you need to design it – and that’s what the software will do for you.
We offer our own ID creation software called BadgeBuilder. In three versions for different levels of usage and technology.
With BadgeBuilder® all data is stored in a private database so a lost card is replaced in a flash without having to retake a picture or re-enter data. Simply pull up the database entry and print out a new card.
BadgeBuilder® is compatible with multiple cameras and printer lines, contains a powerful array of options and has full Windows® 7, 8, 10 support. All this makes BadgeBuilder® the choice for your ID creation needs.
2-ID Card Printer
The printer is the workhorse of your ID card-making system.
We recommend the Magicard family of ID card printers. Magicard offers a range of printer models that can be matched to your expected print volume, technology needs and budget.
Of course, you’ll need printer ribbons, cleaning kits, blank or proximity cards and various types of badge holders, lanyards and other accessories. And we can provide those as well.
3-Printer Ribbons, Supplies & Accessories
You will also need to think about how the badges will be worn – and whether to order badge holders, badge clips, badge reels, lanyards or any other accessories.
The ID card printers are designed to print on hard plastic (PVC) cards. You will need a supply of white blank cards to produce your own badges. These cards come with and without magnetic stripes on the back for card reader swiping.
Proximity cards come with embedded RFID (radio frequency technology) will allows cards to be read when the card holder is within proximity to the locked door.
ID card printers can also print on hard plastic key tags.
Pretty much any camera will work if you want to go through the multi-step process of uploading, retrieving, downloading and positioning.
But we offer a camera that eliminates all those steps. Just shoot, click and the photo is automatically uploaded to the card design.
In other words, a camera designed specifically for the software.
Card readers come in many varieties – from a simple barcode or card swiping reader to the more advanced smart card systems.
We can provide all types of card readers.
However, it’s important to remember that the more advanced technologies may require some printer enhancements and the use of so-called proximity cards.
How do I decide what is the right system for me?
A simple answer here: you start with the card. So what type of card do you need?
More specifically what should it look like, how many cards will you need on a monthly basis and what does the card need to do for you?
In terms of card appearance or design …
- Will the card need to show a photo ID?
- Do you need to print on both sides of the card?
- Will you need to print in multiple color or will a monochrome be sufficient?
In terms of card quantity …
- How many cards will you need as a first run?
- How many new cards will you need on average per month?
In terms of card usage …
- Will your card only be checked visually or will it require some technology?
- Will the card be used to monitor visitor entry and departure?
- Will the card be used to unlock doors or other access?
- Will the card be used to swipe a card reader?
- Will be card used with smart technology to recognize proximity?
Once you answer these questions and determine what card you need, you can begin to decide what components you need to produce that card in the quantity you need.
What will all this cost?
Once again, that will depend on your needs.
If you are looking for an entry level system – one that can print basic photo ID cards in volumes of about xx per month, that includes a magnetic stripe and a card reader for swiping, you are looking at the following
- BadgeBuilder Software – starts at $479
- Magicard Pronto 100 Model – starts at $850
- Camera – starts at $80
- Card Reader – starts at $129
- Cards, Ribbons, Supplies & Accessories – approximately $100 depending on usage volume
That brings you to about $1,900 for an entry level system. Of course, if you need a mid-level or top-level system, your costs will be higher.
What about training? Is it complicated?
With today’s newest printer models, the operation of the printer is no more complicated than your average office printer.
Any member of your staff should be able to run this printer with minimal training.
Yes, ribbons (instead of ink cartridges) need to be replaced from time to time. And cleaning kits are available to perform periodic maintenance.
Beyond that, most problems with your printer can be addressed through the manufacturer’s support office.
How difficult is it to install and set up?
Installation for much of the system is simple and intuitive.
For the printer, all you need to do is find a space and plug it into a standard wall circuit. Then connect your printer to your computer and camera.
Your card reader is a little more complicated, and may require some professional assistance because the reader will need to connect to a door or a lock for access control.
What will we need for space?
Your space needs are minimal.
Most ID card printers are designed for tabletop or desktop use. The three models we recommend from Magicard have footprints of less than 1.5 x 1 foot.
You will want to set up your printer near your computer and camera for quick and simple ID card creation and printing.
How can we prevent counterfeiting?
If you are concerned about unauthorized access, you will need to take some steps to prevent counterfeiting. Many printers provide some level of counterfeit prevention.
All Magicard printers come with Magicard’s patented HoloKote anti-counterfeiting technology featuring a built-in watermark applied during the printing process.
How to get started on your “system”
If you would like to begin the process of setting up your own ID card and badge printer system, we can help.
First, you can look at some of the other pages on this website for specific information on our software, printers, cards, supplies and accessories.
Or you can take a few minutes to speak with our customer specialist Drew Carey. You can call him at 800-856-4735, send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can click here and Drew will reach out to you.
We look forward to hearing from you.