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.
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.
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.