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With special event badges, bigger is often better

A 'how-to' guide for issuing large-format IDs

There are hundreds of different attachment options, and several of the common choices are presented below.

Plastic cards. If you choose plastic cards, you can have them slot punched. Their more durable nature means they don’t require a clear vinyl pouch for protection, but will instead require a strap clip. The cost for a strap clip is about 15 cents.

Ink Jet paper cardstock. Less durable than their plastic counterparts, you would insert the paper cardstock into a clear vinyl pouch that costs about 20 cents each. The pouch can then be worn using a strap clip (15 cents), steel bead chain (20 cents) or a blank or custom printed lanyard.

For an added personal touch – and a bit of brand recognition – you can also choose a preprinted lanyard that features your institution’s colors and name. For larger cards or pouches, the lanyard recommendations are either open ended with two swivel hooks or a standard lanyard with wide plastic hook. The cost for either of these with custom printing is around 90 cents.

ID software

The good news is you probably can use your current ID software. Check to see if you can create projects of different sizes and if there is a maximum size allowed. Using your current ID software means you are familiar with it, and you will have the ability to import the data or connect to an external database as you don’t want to manually type all the credentials.

Credential technology

Technology such as proximity or contactless chips can be built into the larger plastic cards. But with a lack of common sizes and limited use in the marketplace, the cost per card will be fairly high. Expect a minimum order and longer lead times. You may need to issue technology credentials if you have event staff that needs door access. The cost may be prohibitive to issue to all attendees.

For most applications, I recommend the use of barcode technology. This allows the barcode to be printed when the credential is being personalized, so there is no real added cost. In addition, handheld barcode scanners are prevalent at most events. I recommend newer, 2D barcodes, such as QR code.

For either plastic or ink jet card stock, a UHF RFID chip/antenna can be added. You might consider this technology if you want to have long a read range, and to read a group of people without them having to present the credential. However, introduction of UHF RFID technology creates other complexities such as how to program the chips and the purchase and installation of appropriate readers.

There’s no shortage of things to consider before making the decision to issue large-format credentials. Printer cost, credential size, cost of ink/ribbons and choice of wearable attachments are all things to keep in mind. By navigating these considerations successfully, issuing large-format credentials can be a breeze.

At the end of the day, nothing is going to replace the standard CR80 card size we all know and love. But with virtually every campus putting on special events and issuing season tickets and event passes, it’s important to know all the credential options that are out there.

Your local Identification Systems Group dealer can help you navigate these considerations and provide a complete solution quote. Or feel free to contact me to discuss your specific requirements. I’ll be glad to help.

About Identification Systems Group (ISG)

The ISG is a nationwide network of local experts in identification, security and tracking, providing high-quality, cost effective solutions backed by local support and the strength of our Professional Services Certification program.

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