Everything you need
to know about making cards


The Original Way to Make ID Cards
People have been creating and using identification cards since before the turn of the century. Prior to the 1990s, the most common method of producing an ID card was known as the composite or Film-Based method. This simply involved taking a person's photo, cutting it out, and laminating it to a card-sized piece of paper containing the person's name, ID number, and any other personal information.

Although the initial investment for a film-based system was relatively low, the time, labor, and individual cost of each card was high. In addition, these cards were easily counterfeited. As a result, a new method called digital printing began to arise during the late 1990s.


The New Way To Make ID Cards
Today, Digital Printing has become the technology of choice for the majority of organizations issuing identification cards -- and with good reason.  Digital ID Cards offer security and durability that was previously unavailable.  The benefits of these cards over older technology include:

  • Unlimited card design possibilities
  • Unlimited color options
  • Magnetic stripe and bar code features
  • Highly durable cards
  • Difficult to counterfeit

... and the list goes on and on. But to truly understand the benefits of digital printing, you should understand how it works. It's surprisingly simple.


How A Digital ID Card System Works
Our software allows us  to create an ID card design and enter all the information you would like to appear on the ID card. You supply us with the persons digital image or photo, and we automatically load it into the software. The digital printer takes all the text, photos, and images from the software and prints them directly onto a plastic ID card. And lastly, the computer is what ties everything together.

As you can see, digital printing really is the most advanced method currently available to produce ID cards. And the results are outstanding. Just look at all the features digital high-definition ID cards have to offer:

Card Features
Magnetic Strips and
    Bar Codes

How Digital ID Card Printers Work
If you are among the truly curious, you may wonder how YouFinishIt actually get those great looking images onto plastic cards. Well, this too is easier than you might expect. Our Digital Card Printers utilize two different, yet similar, technologies called direct-to-card printing and High Definition Printing.

Direct-to-card printing is the traditional technology used by digital card printers to print images directly onto the surface of a plastic card. It does this by heating a special print ribbon beneath a thermal printhead, resulting in the transfer of color from the ribbon to a blank card.

With new High Definition Printing technology, the printer first prints images onto a special HDP film which is then fused into the surface of a blank card through heat and pressure. Because the graphics and text are printed on the underside of the HDP film, the image is "sandwiched" between the highly durable film and the card (see diagram below). This unique process results in exceptional print quality, extreme durability, and the ability to print on virtually ANY card size or type.

With either of these remarkable digital printing technologies, there are two shared print methods both use to actually do the printing. These print methods are called dye-sublimation and resin thermal transfer.

Dye-Sublimation Color Ribbon
Dye-sublimation is the process
our printers use to print smooth, continuous-tone images that look truly photographic. This process uses a dye-based ribbon that is partitioned by a number of consecutive color panels. The panels are grouped in a repeating series of the three process colors -- Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan (YMC) -- along the entire length of the ribbon.

During printing, a printhead containing hundreds of small thermal elements heats the dyes on the ribbon which then vaporize and diffuse into the surface of either the card (for direct-to-card printing) or the HDP film. A separate pass is made for each of the three color panels on the ribbon. By combining the colors of the panels and by varying the temperature used to transfer these colors, the printer is able to produce up to 16.7 million, photo-realistic colors.

Three Color Passes


Resin Thermal Transfer
Resin Thermal Transfer is the process
our Printers use to print sharp black text and crisp bar codes which can be read by both infra-red and visible-light bar code scanners. Like dye-sublimation, this process uses the same thermal printhead to transfer color from the ribbon roll to the card or the HDP film. The difference, however, is that solid dots of color are transferred in the form of a resin-based ink which is fused to the surface of the card when heated. This produces very durable, single-color images.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of digital ID cards.  If you have any questions about digital ID cards, please feel free to contact us directly. 



Last updated:04/30/18