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Edge-to-Edge vs Over-the-Edge ID Card Printing

Getting the right ID cards printed can be a more confusing undertaking than most people first realise. Everyone would love a solution that’s simple, straight-forward, and universally applicable – unfortunately, no such solution exists.

Breaking down the Process

It’s up to you then to understand the differences between popular forms of ID card printing. This allows you to determine which is right for you, your purposes, and, of course, your budget.

Presuming you’ve already handled the important matters of the layout, card type and design you’re looking for your ID cards to have, it’s now time to consider the print method. That is, are you going to opt for edge-to-edge or over-the-edge printing?

Before you can make that choice, you need to know what each is.

Edge-to-Edge Printing

To put it in its simplest possible terms, edge-to-edge printing is where a slim border is left around the surface of your final printed ID card. This isn’t a deliberated printed design, rather it’s simply an area of the card which has had no printing applied to it.

White is the most common colour for the border because the vast majority of ID cards are white. However, the colour of the card blank will determine the colour of the border. So, if you have a black blank card it’ll be a black border, a red card leaves a red border, and so on.

Whether you know it or not, you’ve seen and handled edge-to-edge printed ID cards countless times. It’s a highly popular and economic method of printing. This method of card printing uses YMCK ribbons.

Over-the-Edge printing

So, edge-to-edge printing means there is a small blank border left around the edge of the card. Over-the-edge printing, it shouldn’t be a surprise, means that there is no visible border left around the ID card’s edges. The whole surface space of the card is taken up with the print design.

This is achieved through the different printing method used. Direct-to-card printers allow the print head to come into contact with the card itself during the printing process – hence the blank border. A retransfer printer, as used in over-the-edge printing works differently.

The design is instead printed on a thin layer of transfer film, before being applied to the surface of the card. This means there are no blank gaps, the design takes up the whole face of the card.

Which one is right for you?

The printing method you choose depends on the results you’re looking to achieve, as they each have benefits and drawbacks.

The main benefit of edge-to-edge printing is that it’s more affordable, and the printing process is generally quicker. This makes it better suited to applications where you’re going to be ordering your ID cards in bulk.

Over-the-edge printing is more expensive and time-consuming, but the final result is of higher quality. This makes it better suited to low volume prints, or situations where the most professional image possible is the desired effect.

There’s no right answer. There’s only the best printing method for your purposes.

Contact ALG ID Cards today to order our ID card printing service (we offer both edge-to-edge and over-the edge) or if you have any questions about card printing.

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YMCK, YMCKO & YMC – Choosing the Right Printer Ribbon


If you’re at all familiar with printing, you’ve probably heard the term ‘CMYK’ and you likely know it stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (or black), and you can probably have a fair guess at some of the letters in YMCKO and YMCKOK.

YMCKO and YMCKOK ribbons aren’t for standard printers, though. They’re made specifically for ID Card Printers and they have panels of colour, called dye sublimation panels to print what you need on your ID cards. And here’s what all that jumble of letters actually stands for:


No surprises for guessing this stands for yellow, magenta and cyan. These printer ribbons can create just about any full colour design you want, including black, as long as composite black (made from a mix of the three colours) is good enough for your design.


Again, it’s quite straightforward and stands for yellow, magenta, and cyan, but where it differs from standard printing is that the black is actually a black resin panel which is used for clear, precise black text and also has to be used if you need to print barcodes, as composite black won’t work for them.

YMCKO Printer Ribbons

These have the standard colours, the black resin panel and the ‘O’ stands for an extra overlay panel which will coat your printed ID card to help protect your design and make it more durable. Some printer ribbons allow you to add security watermarks using the overlay panel which can help improve the overall security of your cards and organisation.

YMCKOK Printer Ribbons

These ribbons have all of the above and a further black panel so you can print in black on the back of the card.

YMCKO and YMCKOK ribbons can do rather more than the others, but what’s the difference between the two? Why pick one over the other?

Well, you can print vibrant full colour and a clear black, plus a barcode and an overlay on one side of your ID cards with a YMCKO ribbon, so they’re great for cards that are only printed on one side. You can also print colour on both sides of your ID cards with the same ribbon, though you will go through your printer ribbon twice as fast if you do that.

With YMCKOK ribbons you can also print your full colour design, clean black type, a barcode and an overlay on one side of your ID cards, as well as printing a plain black design on the other side, where perhaps the rear of your card doesn’t have to be in colour.

All of the ribbon types are useful in different ways and choosing your ribbon is just a case of deciding what sort of design you want, including whether it’s double-sided or not, and whether you also need to be able to print a barcode on your cards.

Monochrome / Single Colour Ribbons

Monochrome ribbons are available in a range of different colours. However, as the name implies, monochrome ribbons can only print in one colour. You can also purchase special monochrome ribbons such as scratch off ribbons.

Retransfer Film

Retransfer ID Card Printers do not use the traditional YMCK ribbons, instead they use retransfer film with a YMCK film. Check out our Edge-to-Edge vs Over-the-Edge card printer blog post which explains the difference between the difference between Direct to Card Printers and Retransfer Card Printers.


We sell a range of different YMC, YMCKO & YMCKOK ID Card Printer Ribbons. Make sure you check out the MA300YMCKO & MA250YMCKOK, our best selling printer ribbons which are designed specifically for Magicard Printers.