Why does my dye film tear?

Written By John Fieldsend
Magicard Article
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1. Your card has already been printed (even though it looks blank)

ID card YMCKD leyersIn most cases, it’s easy to spot whether a card has already been printed as it shows an obvious image or text. However, if there has been an error in the print and no design has been printed, it can look like a blank card. However, as the card has in fact been through the printer, it will have the protective overlay layer on it.

This is probably the most common cause of dye film tearing. The overlay is part of the dye film and forms the “O” in YMCKO films (find out more about dye films here) and is usually the last to be applied to the card following the three colour and black resin layers. Besides providing a degree of UV and physical protection, the layer effectively seals the card, preventing any further printing on that card.

If a previously printed card is fed into the printer for printing, the dye film will stick to the overlay layer. The card will continue to feed through but the film will pull tighter than normal until the film tears or snaps.

It is important to always use cards straight from the box and not ones you may have found lying around on a desk!


2. You’re using the incorrect card size

Another -perhaps less common- cause is the incorrect size of card used. For most applications, the standard ‘credit’ card size is CR80 (85.7 x 54 mm) which is the size set by default in the printer driver (please see attachments). Less common is the CR79 card size (83.9 x 52.1 mm). Problems arise if the driver is set to expect CR80 cards and CR79 cards are actually used.

If CR79 cards are used, being slightly shorter, this will cause the printhead to overrun one end of the card and the head -which is hot at this point- will simply cut through the film.

Here is an example of the CR79/80 option in the driver (selected from the printer tab) together with the respective sizes.

Card size
See our Driver Guide which provides further details on driver tabs and functions.

What can you do?

Fear not; the film is not wasted, it can simply be re-attached by pulling a small amount of unused film (on the blue spool) and winding this around the used film (on the white spool) two or three turns to gain some traction on the white spool. The repaired film can then be re-inserted and used as normal.

Alternatively, you can join the two ends of the film together.

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22nd Aug 2022