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Choosing the right card printer for your company

Navigating the showroom floor

Employee ID credentials have advanced greatly in recent years, but as new security features and materials are added to the mix one constant remains: the need to print and personalize the badge.

Choosing the right card printer is like purchasing a car in that the buyer must balance wants and needs. While the organization may want the Ferrari of printers they must ask, is it feasible? Reliable? Maintainable? Will they even know how to drive it?

These are concerns that decision makers from every company–large or small–grapple with when investing in a card printing system.

Different sizes, different drivers

Shane Cunningham, marketing communications manager for Digital Identification Solutions echoes this sentiment. “For businesses of any size that have tight budgets and ever-changing needs, the keys are versatility, reliability and a low total cost ownership,” he says.

When it comes to ever evolving card technology, companies must be mindful of versatility. “They need to look for solutions that can meet their current needs but can be easily modified should needs change,” says Cunningham.

Versatility, along with the size and ambition of the operation, should be the lens through which any end-user views the card printer market.

Small operations should look for solutions that will be easy to implement, operate and maintain–it is a case of simplicity. Features such as easy loading of card ribbons as well as integrated card design software within the printer are extremely valuable, says Alan Fontanella, vice president of Product Marketing for HID Global. “For small organizations with few employees and who require basic ‘one-off’ card design, embedded card templates located within the printer browser can eliminate the need for separate software installation.”

For small businesses, solutions that feature greater ease of installation are invaluable. “The printer should come with integrated software so they can be up and running fast,” says Kathleen Phillips, vice president of distributed issuance at Datacard Group.

Integrated software benefits smaller businesses by offering built-in card design capability, explains Fontanella. “Some printers include an embedded badging application that provides a ‘plug and play’ feature for creating simple card designs satisfying basic ID card printing needs.”

“A user can custom design and print a card quickly using the included design templates, eliminating the need to install additional card personalization software,” says Fontanella.

As the size of a business increases so too do its ambitions. For this reason, larger operations should seek out more powerful printing solutions. “These organizations typically seek intuitive and scalable printers that can meet evolving requirements,” says Fontanella.

Efficiency often goes hand in hand with growth, and for larger businesses, time is of the essence. “Mid-size business should look for printers with speed and performance to enable printing large quantities of cards at select times,” says Phillips.

Planning for the future of both the organization and card printer technology is key for any operation but as the size of the business increases this foresight becomes more crucial. “The printer solution should be modular, with the ability to add dual-sided printing functionality in order to scale in parallel to an organization’s growth,” says Fontanella.

As with small businesses, the idea of versatility comes into play with mid-size firms as well. “Mid-size companies often require electronic personalization and encoding to support their technology migration needs,” says Fontanella. “Printer and encoder solutions should be capable of accommodating magnetic stripe as well as more robust card technologies to support an organization’s transition from one technology to another.”

Larger companies must be familiar with technological advancements in printing–namely security–as they often have both the security demands and the resources to employ the most advanced solutions. “Larger businesses need to be cognizant of security features the printer offers–do they need features like fluorescent printing or custom laminates?” says Phillips.

Large organizations are also concerned with print speed and quantity. “They typically require high throughput for growing staff requirements, contractors and visitors,” says Fontanella.

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