Access cards or badges are an integral part of our daily lives. Finding a suitable laser ID card printer can be challenging especially for the offices that regularly need to print these for the employees and guests. This in-depth guide will help you to shortlist access card printers currently available in the market.
Why does someone look for ID Card Laser Engraver?
- Why does someone look for ID Card Laser Engraver?
- These are the best PVC laser ID card badge printers
- Magicard 600 Dual Side Laser Badge Printer (Best Overall)
- Fargo HDP 5000
- Evolis Primacy 2
- Zebra ZXP Series 7
- How does Laser Engraving work in Access Card?
- Can You use a laser printer to print ID cards?
- Consider These before buying a Laser Engraving ID Card Printer
- ID Card Printing (Maintenance Guide)
If you closely look at the application of such cards with the magnetic reader, security would be the primary concern. An access card printer with a laser engraving option protects someone from accessing the property illegitimately. Or even if someone does that, there should be clear recordings or the access point must restrict any unauthorized entry.
Furthermore, a laser engraving option is a secure and personalized method that is highly efficient to stop forgery and manipulation.
Applications of such cards can be from the following perspectives:
- Employee access badge
- Students access card
- Visitors’ ID card
- Loyalty cards
- Gift or membership cards
- or any specialized payment cards (that act similarly to the debit cards but for the retailers)
These are the best PVC laser ID card badge printers
After considering all the available best practices, we brought 11 sample access card printers to our lab and performed in-depth tests. We have conducted 9 surveys to collect user opinions and spent a total of 37 hours testing the access card printers.
Here’s what we are concluding:
- Magicard 600 is best overall considering the price and other positive issues
- Fargo HDP 5000 is a bit costly but the printing speed is great with better durability
- Zebra ZXP is also costly but is compatible with all types of cards
- Evolis Primacy 2 is comparably new but offers a lot more advantages such as digital erasing & encoding
There is the in-depth review:
Magicard 600 Dual Side Laser Badge Printer (Best Overall)
So, far Magicard 600 is the most premium service laser ID card printer currently available in the market. This printer can print on both sides of the PVC card with laser engraving. This access card printer follows the Dye sublimation printing technology which is very good when someone tries to print pictures or multi-color elements on any tough surfaces like PVC material. Moreover, their anti-fraud watermarking was excellent compared to other established ID card printer brands.
The most amazing part is that you can add up to Ten holographic patches as an anti-fraud mechanism. Besides, this ID card printer offers a 600 DPI resolution which is a signal of quality printing and also ensures better durability. As of today, 600 DPI is the highest access badge printing resolution available in the market.
What helped Magicard 600 be unique from the others?
These are points that helped Magicard 600 to stand out among the other competitors.
- The printing speed is 3 seconds lesser than the Fargo.
- Holographic watermarking appears premium than the Magicard 300 & Magicard Pronto
- Set-up time is 5 minutes lesser than Badgy
- All comes in a box and makes customers’ life easier which is not available with Badgy
- It allows up to 10 custom holkotes (holographic marks) which is limited to three in others
- Barcode & QR code quality is better than Fargo
Other Positive sides of Magicard 600 Badge Printer
- Bodno’s tech support team is really helpful. The support staff will come to your assistance instantly while setting up the printer
- Very easy to use, no prior technical knowledge is needed
- Compatible with both Mac & Windows
- Works great with the NFC cards
- You can save multiple ID card templates even with their Bronze software package
- Importing ID card templates from other ID card printing software is a one-click process
- Works great with SLE4442 chip cards
- It automatically flips the card and saves printing time for dual-sided printing
- Only one license is assigned with a single computer, which ensures better security
Negative Sides of Magicard 600
- You cannot print raised or, textured letter
- Price is a bit higher than others
- Only diamond and platinum software can allow you to print magnetic stripe card encoding
- The power connection is only 110 V which means it would be tough for you if residing in a place where the power connection is 220 V
- Does not work with Microsoft publisher (However, it’s a minor issue)
- Software upgradation is costly
It is important for you to understand the scope of each license. Otherwise, there is a possibility that you might buy the wrong product. The table illustrates a list of additional features which you can get upon upgradation.
|Image Browsing||Import XLS, CSV, TXT||Auto Face Recognition||Automatic Print as per DB||Web Print Server|
|Drag & Drop Interface||Password Protection||2D Barcodes||Fingerprint Acquisition||License for 16 Computers|
|Embedded photo editor||QR Codes||Search Option||UV Panel Management|
How Magicard 600 differs from its own product line-up?
So far the Magicard 600 is the most updated ID card printer from Bodno. The earlier version of this badge printer was Magicard 300 and there were a few differences between both.
- Magicard 600 comes with 600 DPI resolution whereas the Magicard 300 is with a DPI of 300.
- Magicard’s 600’s printing speed is 4 seconds lesser than the Magicard 300.
- Apart from those, Both Magicard 600 & Magicard 300 has two versions with the flexibility of single and dual-sided printing.
- In a nutshell, a dual-sided access card printer costs around USD 200 to 300 higher than single-sided printers.
However, Magicard Pronto 100 is also another popular product from the same company with a few differences as below:
- Magicard pronto is a cost-affordable version with a single-sided printing ability
- Magicard Pronto’s printing speed is around 5 seconds higher than the Magicard 600
- It weighs 4 pounds lesser than the Magicard 600
Magicard 600 Vs Other Prominent Laser ID card printers
Here’s a quick comparison that illustrates how Magicard 600 varies from the other similar laser ID card printers currently available.
|Magicard 600||Fargo HDP 5000||Zebra ZXP|
|Connectivity||USB & Ethernet||Ethernet||Wi-Fi, USB & Ethernet|
|Print Speed/side||19 Seconds||10 Seconds||10 Seconds (Color) & 3 Seconds (Monochrome)|
|Print Method||Dye Sublimation||Dye Sublimation||Dye Sublimation & Thermal|
|More||Check Details||Check Details||Check Details|
Fargo HDP 5000
Fargo HDP 5000 is a high-definition Laser ID card printer with great productivity. It works through ethernet and dye sublimation printing methods. We have noticed that the Fargo HDP 5000’s build strength is premium along with a great external appearance. Along with a higher printing speed of 10 seconds per sides, this access badge printer offers a lot more flexibility and internal control mechanism.
- Super fast printing speed (10 seconds per side), even shorter than the Magicard 600
- The dye sublimation printing mechanism allows better durability in PVC cards
- Allows NFC card encoding
- All in one package, nothing else is needed
- Comes with durable HDP films that create more visual appearance than PVC cards
- On-call tech supports are available in need free of cost
- Allows photo template importing from other applications that eases out the processes in case of printer switching
- Allows anti-forgery holograms
- After testing it for 5 hours, there have been no broken ribbon
- Very easy to use
- Allows textured letter for better security
- Card hopper included
- Overall 89% positive user satisfaction
- No web cameras are included
- Would cost extra money if you need to switch to XXS imaging software
- Mag strip encoder is not included, It costs another $100
- Holograms are not customizable like the Magicard 600
- Takes warming up time
How Fargo HDP 5000 differs from other Fargo ID card printers?
This section illustrates how this ID card printer from Fargo differs from other Fargo badge printers. For instance, Fargo DTC 1250e would cost lower but there are some notable differences as follows:
- Fargo DTC 1250e uses glossy photo paper that fades away after some years. Fargo HDP 500 is an upgradation that solves the issue perfectly.
- DTC 1250e is a 300 DPI ID card printer with a lower imaging quality. But that one is also good for budget pickers.
- Fargo DTC 1250e comes with a printing speed of 10 seconds per side which is 100% higher than what Fargo HDP 5000 offers.
- Finally, Fargo DTC 1250e cannot perform magnetic stripe encoding whereas the HDP 5000 is offering NFC card encoding.
Evolis Primacy 2
Evolis Primacy 2 is another excellent access badge printer with a lot of innovative inclusions. It comes with Silveredition software that represents that you can import XLX, CSV, and TXT files along with password protection. Also, there will be flexibility to generate and print Barcodes on each ID card for their uniqueness.
What makes Evolis Superior?
- It’s a 2022 Updated edition that represents that the company has already addressed all the negative issues with other ID card printers.
- Silver edition Bodno software will accompany this ID card printer which represents that you can protect this with passwords and also generate Qr codes.
- Comes with 300 PVC cards which are even more than sufficient for a medium-sized organization
- Includes card hopper that protects unused PVC cards and saves costs for preserving cards for a longer time
- Can also Generate prints in glossy photo papers
- Compatible with both dye sublimation and thermal technology
- Printing speed is approximately 20 seconds per side
- Can print both sides of PVC card with an automatic flipping advantage
- It can also re-write an existing ID card that saves cost
- Works great with Windows, Mac, and Linux and also connects through Wi-FI
- 600 DPI resolution gives a better quality image
- Able to encode information that adds an extra security option
- Can also digitally erase previously encoded data
- Cannot generate the tactile effect
- lamination is thicker but durable
Zebra ZXP Series 7
Zebra ZXP 7 series is also a great piece of laser Access badge printer with a slightly higher price. This ID card printer is insanely fast with a printing speed of 12 seconds for color and 3 seconds for monochromic print output. Like the Fargo, it’s an ethernet-connected device with a lot more other advantages.
- Used as State ID card printers signal the ID printer’s premium quality
- Super fast printing speed helps you in eliminating time especially 10 seconds per side is 50% lesser than what Magicard offers
- Support different types of cards for example PVC, ABS, PET, and PETG is well supported
- Automatically laminates card with a thickness of 0.76 mm, which helps in maximum ID card’s durability
- Allows NFC encoding
- Allows hologram for the anti-forgery mechanism
- Works in both Dye Sublimation and thermal method
- Excellent customer support
- Allows laser engraving
- Does not limited to one workstation
- Allows textured letter
- Comes with card hopper that helps in protecting blank cards and maximizing the print head’s life
- You need separate ribbons for monochrome print and we have experienced that ribbon gets ineffective after ages since we do not print a lot of monochromic prints per day.
- Does not come with a ribbon, you need to buy them separately
How does Laser Engraving work in Access Card?
Normally, there are three available options to perform laser engraving in badges/access cards for security purposes. These are:
- Subsurface laser engraving – which is basically leaving the marks just slightly below the top surface of the access card.
- Tactile effect laser engraving – refers to laser marks on the access cards’ body. You can feel it by touching the thumb.
- Microtext laser engraving – leaving some texts with very small fonts which cannot be read without a magnifying glass. Usually, the size of the fonts is less than a single point.
- Image engraving can also be possible where two separate images, taken from two different angles are placed simultaneously. For instance, the E-Passport has similar laser engraving pictures. Typically, a changeable laser image is found on the short edge or lateral axis of the card and multiple laser image is found on the long axis of the card.
Can You use a laser printer to print ID cards?
A laser printer is a non-impact type printer that is highly efficient in handling bulk documents of different sizes. The purpose of a laser printer is to print documents very fast. Mainly, large offices or notary public agents use a laser printer since they need to print many numbers of pages within a short period of time.
A laser printer cannot print a PVC ID card at all. You must need an ID card printer for such activities.
However, there is a way of printing ID cards on a normal laser printer. You can print the template on hard paper and then crop and laminate it. Placing it in a cardholder would surely serve the purpose but you will be missing these advantages:
- It won’t be as durable as PVC or NFC cards
- There won’t be any anti-forgery hologram
- Easier to copy
- There will be no premium appearance
Consider These before buying a Laser Engraving ID Card Printer
Buying a laser engraving badge printer is a one-time investment. You cannot change the decision after you have made the purchase. This guide will help you to brush up on your knowledge before buying any Magnetic Access Card Printer.
Erase or Re-write Option
Normally, an access card is made of PVC material and it is always recommended to be re-used before destroying it. There are options when you can re-write the information of the badge and give it to someone else for use unless there are no images.
Not all Badge printers offer you the flexibility to erase or re-write the access card. So, it is really very important to check whether the badge printer has this flexibility or not.
HID Encoding Facility
HID or, Hughes or Identification Devices is an American company that mainly works with secured identity products. an HID encoding facility refers to storing a small amount of data inside the card so that any reader can read those information and record tracks accordingly. An ID card printer with HID encoding facility means that you can also store exactly the same amount of data in the access card. Normally, the data is stored in binary digit formats which are either a 26-bit encoding, 37-bit encoding with ID code only, or a 37-bit encoding with both ID code and facility code.
Types of Card
A good Access card printer should work with both PVC card and ribbon. you need to make sure whether the ID card printer can print PVC cards along with laser engraving options.
We have seen so many user experiences where the customer bought a badge printer and struggled to connect with a MAC. Normally, an access card printer does not have mobile connectivity or cloud-based operation but, it should be comfortable with both windows and MAC OS.
Compatible with Asure ID License
Asure ID is a patent of HID global which work with the ID card encoding for security purposes. Compatibility to the Asure ID software represents that the ID card holder can avail of several privileges regardless of the number of workstations and security protocols. Overall, it’s a mechanism for better security with the identification process.
Printing Both Sides
An ID card may carry personal and confidential information in front but, we prefer to put some generic information at the back as well. There are a few Access badge printers that can print on both sides of the PVC and you need to incur some extra amount of money.
Sharing with Other Workstations
An organization with different offices may not have a centralized human resources department. You need to check if the access badge printer has the compatibility to operate from anywhere (obviously with the protocol). It could ease the process and mitigate the additional costs of an extra ID card printer.
Magnetic Card Encoder
There are two types of ID cards. The first is a plain printed PVC and the other one is with a magnetic chip that allows the administration to out some encoded information. The difference between both is that only the magnetic card is readable through the automatic attendance system and the other is not. We insist you double sure the availability of magnetic chips before buying any access badge.
There are some printers whose printings do not sustain on the PVC cards and people often prefer to laminate the ID card. Though laminating a PVC card requires additional costs as well as complexities, some premium access badge printers do not require such lamination. Evaluate carefully before closing the deal.
Compatibility to UV Ink
UV ink allows better adhesion to tough surfaces such as PVC and steel. In the case of access card printing, applying UV ink ensures stronger durability and a better appearance of the details. Moreover, curing the UV inks boosts the durability of the access badge and protects it from scratches. Good ID card printers can apply a glossy lamination above the ultraviolet inks along with the laser engraving so that the access badge seems to be lucrative, tough to copy, and sustainable to carry.
Does it have an Input Hopper?
An input hopper allows a PVC access card printer to hold a sufficient amount of cards so that it can print immediately without any need for cleaning. Having an input hopper ensures that the PVC ards are cleaned and not exposed to light. Also, it directly contributes to speeding up the printing process.
There are two ID card printing methods. One is Dye-sublimation and the other is resin thermal transfer. A dye-sublimation is a heat transferring process that helps to stick the image on any surface with the help of heat. On the other hand, a resin thermal transfer is an alternative to dye-sublimation that ensures better durability of the printed ID cards. The most interesting thing is that the dye-sublimation is just directly pasting the images over the PVC but, in thermal heat transfer – the color drop starts getting fused together with the PVC and offers a lucrative and durable printed access badge.
Generally, thermal heat transfer is best for printing single color such as a barcode or, QR code. Dye-sublimation is good for printing multiple-color images. We strongly suggest using a thin glossy lamination over the access card to boost the durability.
As we have seen earlier that a resolution measures the image quality in the digital printing process. A printer’s print resolution or quality is measured by dots per inch or DPI. Normally, we can consider an ID card printer above good if it has a printing resolution of 300+ DPI. You need to check before making your purchase of any access card printer.
Moreover, an ID card carries our identity such as a picture and it is equally important to ensure a better appearance. Otherwise, the person may get into trouble upon fading away of the ID card image. Ensuring this is easy if the ID card printer has a capacity of 256 or more shades per pixel.
ID Card Printing (Maintenance Guide)
These are the best practices you should follow while printing PVC ID cards in an access card printer.
The print head is the most important part of any printer, especially for badge printing machines. Also, it is much more costly so, you should take care of that properly. The first thing you should note is that the ID card printers are also thermal printers. That means the print head burns the color and put it on the PVC card. We strongly recommend using any blank PVC cards with the bump in them. It can fully destroy the print head.
Also, be very careful while opening the printer’s cover. Make sure that nothing touches the print head while changing the ribbon.
Ribbons are the panel of colors that delivers the ink to the print head of an access card printer. There are different types of ribbons such as Black & Overlay, YMCKOK – Yellow, Magenta, Cyan, Black, Overlay, and Black and Monochrome (Black and red).
Try to less re-open the cover as it may destroy the ribbons and even the print head because of dust. If the ribbon breaks, do not throw them rather try to re-use it later. This is very normal for a thermal printer when the ribbon often breaks.
However, too often breakage is not a good sign. Re-check the printer’s temperature and if needed, call customer support.
In need of great sustainable service, you need to clean the badge printer regularly. Follow these steps while cleaning the ID card printer.
- Make sure to remove all the cards from the hopper before initiating the cleaning
- Try to use a CR80 cleaning card (a dust collector) and avoid alcohol-type cleaning substances
- If the cleaning roller seems too dirty, replace it for better service
Choosing the ID card printer with laser engraving is your skill. You need to be very careful about what are you demanding. We recommend you to stick to our top picks and blindly choose any of them as they have already passed all of our testing parameters.
We believe this guide helped you a lot to know things more interestingly. If you have anything to share, do not hesitate to comment and let us know about the matter.