Top Tips for designing and printing ID cards

Designing ID cards and badges

printing id cardAlthough no dye-sublimation printer will give the same quality / quantity of output as can be achieved with a mass production offset printer, if a badge is designed correctly results can be achieved with a desktop dye sublimation printer that look as good to naked eye.

Offset printers use printing plates, print the same image hundreds of times on large sheets of material, punch the finished card out of the sheet and cost more than 10 times as much to purchase as desktop ID card printers.

However, by following a few simple design tips that take account of the difference in the two processes, comparable quality can be achieved with a desktop ID card printer – with the added advantage of being able to personalise from one card to the next.

Badge Design – 8 top tipsprinted visual id card

1 – Plain colour areas are the most likely to show any variation so it is better to use textured colours where possible.

2– Avoid coloured bands running along the card and into a photo as it will affect the area around the photo.

3 – Photos will sometimes print better at the start of the card or the end of the card depending on the layout. Try reversing the whole image to select the best result.

4 – The heat in the print head accumulates faster if dark colours are printed. The darker the colour the more heat is used to print the layers onto the card. Lighter tones are preferable.

5 – When printing on contactless cards ensure that the design of the badge allows for any unevenness in the surface due to the chip or aerial, these can cause white or faded patches to appear in the text or image. It is best to avoid placing critical parts of the image directly above the chip or aerial. Avoid large areas of solid colour, as these are most likely to reveal embedded items. A white background is best, or art with varied colour or pattern.

6 – Ensure that any captured image such as an ID photograph is lit correctly for colour and brightness and is properly focused as the printer cannot improve a poor quality input.

7 – If you add a logo or bitmap to the design, ensure that the size of the original does not cause distortion and pixilation if it must be enlarged or reduced to fit into the design.

8 – It is more important to ensure the colour of any picture element is correct when printed even if the colour looks incorrect on the screen.