ID card printers: making the right choice #1 Security

Written By John Fieldsend
Designing an ID card

It’s easy to dismiss the card at your belt or hanging from a lanyard around your neck as a minor inconvenience that thwarts your ability to get where you need to be if you’ve left it on your desk or – worse still – at home. But looking at it from a different perspective, it serves a greater, wider purpose:

It houses your credentials, helping to ensure that only the right people have access to a building, business assets and data – all of which, should they fall into the wrong hands, could risk the safety of individuals let alone the reputation of a company or institution.

In this series, we look at the key elements to consider when selecting your ID card printer.


Unsurprisingly, this is the first criterion for selecting an ID card printer. After all, what’s the point of an insecure security tool? Without a robust card security feature, anyone with access to any ID card printer could make a convincing copy of your card. Surprisingly, many real world ID card applications are rudimentary ‘badging systems’ and do not implement any additional security at all due to the perceived expense and complexity of secure solutions such as holograms or embedded technology.

First, you need to consider what it is you’re protecting: people, physical assets or data? This will determine the level of security you’re looking for your ID card print solution to provide.

Visual identification (quality of print)

From Healthcare to Education, Retail to Government and beyond, visual identification is fundamental to security. Without a quality image however, it’s hard to accurately compare the image on the ID card to the person wearing it. And the cards need to withstand extended use over a period of years. In order to achieve this, you need good quality cards as well as a good quality printer.

Make sure the cards you choose are engineered to withstand years of everyday use. Crucially, they should be built for personalisation with a smooth PVC surface with minimal chip deflection so every card looks great, no matter how it’s printed, allowing you to print out of the box with no defects.

Watermarks /Custom watermarks

All Magicard manufactured ID card printers have a built-in card security feature – HoloKote, this exclusive technology prints a secure watermark as part of the normal print cycle and at no extra cost per card.

The HoloKote image is frosted into the clear overcoat panel of the standard print process resulting in a watermark like layer that can be visually verified when the card is tilted in the light. With all Magicard manufactured printers, the user can select from standard secure HoloKote designs using the printer driver.

Custom HoloKotes are also available. These are generated by Magicard and held in a secure database to prevent counterfeiting and fraud.

Physical security

Dependent on the level of security you need, consider an opaque, lockable input hopper to secure blank cards. This helps to prevent access to the cards themselves for unauthorised printing. A secondary lock prevents the printer from being opened by unsanctioned personnel and secures the opaque output stacker cover.

digital shreddingTM

Magicard 600Magicard has pioneered a digital shreddingTM capability in the Magicard 600: once information has been used for a print job, it is fragmented and dispersed, rendering it irrecoverable.

threat benchmarking

Also look out for the ability for a printer to receive push updates from scans against the National Vulnerabilities Database, ensuring that the system always conforms to the highest levels of security.

Next time: Credential Durability