Different technologies in Plastic Card Printing

The specialty of plastic card printing is that materials are mostly PVC. This makes it different from other forms of printing. Here, the material in use is not porous. As a result, the dyes cannot penetrate the material. Whereas in other forms of printing such as paper printing, the ink can easily penetrate inside the material and settle.

Thus, Plastic Card Printing requires special techniques to penetrate the dye within the material. Alternatively, they are bind to the surface with the help of adhesives.


In its simplest form, it can be done through dye sublimation. Here, the dye enters into the material and stays there intact, holding its form. However, this technology is not suitable in the case of edge-to-edge printing. In such a case, retransfer printing becomes necessary. It makes use of an intermediate transfer ribbon helps. Thus, while dye sublimation is the simplest technique, retransfer printing helps in eliminating the disadvantages of the former technology. Further, it is also tamper-resistant and has compatibility with technology cards. 

Apart from these, inkjet systems, as well as electrophotographic systems, are other options for printing Plastic cards.

Screen printing and offset printing are some of the traditional methods of printing these cards. While the former is useful in printing holograms and similar items permanently to the card, the latter helps in the case of providing fine details to the card. The offset printing makes use of UV-cured inks. These inks cure on their exposure to UV lights. On the other hand, screen printing uses thermoplastic inks that require drying to fix permanently on the card. Usually, printings involve the use of both technologies in combination. 

Uses of Plastic Cards

The uses of these cards are varied. From simple visiting cards to more sophisticated national ID cards, they have multiple uses. Digital technology enables the printing of customized information on pre-printed cards. In the case of credit cards, users may get a certain design on their cards. This digital technology is very important in the case of licenses and ID cards as they necessarily require photographs on them.

Data shows that as many as 30 billion cards are printed each year. The market for printing plastic cards is growing at the rate of 1.5% per year.

Smart cards

These are the cards having in-built-processors. They are most suitable in cases where high security and identification are required. This makes them fit for financial transactions. Further, these cards are dominating revenue generators for the Plastic card printing Industry. They generate more revenue than any other type of plastic card. The main reason behind its large revenue is the complexity of its printing. They may undergo 30 different types of steps to receive their final form.

Security features in the card

The security features can be added to the card in the process of printing with the use of specialized materials. Alternatively, they may have security features in the pre-printed cards. There can be the following elements in the cards as security features: Holograms, signatures, photos, security patterns, laser engravings, etc.

Fluorescent UV printing is a security feature that one can add to the pre-printed cards. However, with the use of specialized inkjet inks, this feature can be added during the customized printing process. Some printing may make use of fluorescent thermal transfer printing in place of inkjet inks.

The advancement in technology has provided yet other advanced security systems. For example, low-power lasers can be used to add a metallic layer to the card. These layers duplicate the photo present in the card. This adds further security for the user. These lasers not only add some ink to the card. Instead, they change the card thermally.

Image printing in plastic cards

For an image, there are both photographic portions as well as texts. While the photographic portions need the image to be of high quality with a continuous tone, the text requires high-resolution printing with high quality. This is usually achieved by combining the resin-based black panels with dye-based CMY ribbons.

To choose among the different printing technologies, one needs to understand the requirements of the market to which it is catering to. Accordingly, factors such as durability, security, cost, etc. have to be considered.


Internal Link – Newtimezone

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