Campus prints faster, issues longer-lasting ID cards with Zebra ZXP Series 7 printer
Julian Pardo, NALA product marketing manager, Zebra Technologies
Since Butler’s founding in 1855, the university has challenged and supported students in a liberal-arts environment that fosters both intellectual and social growth while providing practical, “real-world” skills. With over 60 major academic fields of study in six colleges, multiple opportunities to study abroad, and renowned faculty, Butler’s curriculum gives students an experience of a lifetime and an edge that defies the norm. The university serves approximately 4,900 undergraduate and graduate students annually, and has been consistently rising in the prestigious U.S. News & World Report annual rankings of colleges (currently #2 among Midwest Regional Universities).
On the Butler University campus, the student ID is an all-access pass into the library, athletic center, and usually a student's next meal. When incoming students register, they receive the laminated photo ID cards and carry them with them at all times. Loaded with “Dawg Bucks,” the Butler student ID cards act like debit cards for purchases at campus dining spots, some select off-campus restaurants and the campus bookstore.
During high-volume new student registration – when hundreds of students need cards in a short timeframe – fast ID card creation is critical. When cumbersome printing slowed the process, Butler began looking for a better way. Previously, card creation required a two-step process to print and then laminate, adding up to considerable time for each card.
“A separate laminate step added about 45 seconds to creating each ID card, which was unacceptable when we were trying to process 200 students in a couple of hours,” says Eddie Marsh, systems analyst. “When you’ve got mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, brother and sister waiting with the student, it’s high-stress for us if printing is slow.”
Cards also didn’t last as long as the typical student’s college career. Less than halfway through their four years on campus, the cards would begin fading under normal use and printed dye bled onto wallets.
In a trial, Zebra’s ZXP Series 7 card printers performed with the speed that Butler needs for high-volume printing. “When I first saw the Zebra printers, I was really impressed with the speed,” says Theresa Hilliard, who handles ID cards and vehicle registration at Butler.
Beyond faster printing, the ZXP Series 7 card printer provides photo-like printing and ease of use. It automatically adjusts to the thickness of the card, and ribbon loading takes just a few seconds. Critically, the ZXP Series 7 integrates printing and lamination in one step, reducing the overall time to print the barcoded, magnetic stripe cards.
Butler deployed the printers well before new student registration. While two printers normally reside in the campus police department, the university brings them to a more central location for registration, requiring wireless network printing. When Butler needed help connecting printers to a sub-network for registration, Zebra’s tech support team quickly rewrote the print drivers to get the printers to communicate with the network.
For new student registration, integrated printing and lamination gives Butler University back approximately 45 seconds on every card. Across 200 students, that saves 2.5 hours, allowing staff handling registration to complete the process sooner. By increasing the ribbon per roll capacity from 250 to 750, the staff spends significantly less time replacing ribbons and more time helping students.
Butler University struggled with slow printing of student ID cards during new student registration periods, as well as print durability issues.
Zebra ZXP Series 7 card printers can process up to three jobs at the same time (encoding, printing and laminating simultaneously), delivering faster, higher quality printing.
Marsh also says that the ZXP Series 7 printers are ready to go when turned on, without the warm-up time required of previous printers. All-in-one printing and lamination likewise saves the university on supply costs.
With a magnetic stripe and barcoding, Butler University’s ID cards work hard for students. The cards printed on the ZXP Series 7 printers are proving to be more durable over time – a critical requirement for the high usage students put them through. With digital printing, color photos don’t fade and printed dye doesn’t wear off or transfer to wallets, creating longer lasting identification cards for students and campus staff.
“We’ve been really happy with Zebra,” Hilliard says. “When someone comes into our office for a replacement card, the printer is ready to go and we have their cards right away.”