Print On Plastic Card (Everything You Need To Know)

While business cards tend to be printed upon index-sized sheets made of cardstock, you will notice that ID cards are pressed out on PVCs. Ever wondered why?

Unlike business cards, ID cards get used on a regular basis to portray proof of membership or identification. They need to be swiped into machines or held up in front of chip readers while entering or leaving places. These days, vaccination cards have joined the list since they need to be revealed before entering most public spaces.

So, it is high time that you start learning how to print on plastic cards! That way, you can easily print out your own data without having to pay somebody to do it. Let us assist you throughout the journey!

Print On Plastic Card

What is Needed to Print ID Cards In-House?

If you have decided to print out your own ID cards, good for you! You can experiment with countless designs and receive your output whenever necessary. Money can also be saved as you can work on reducing the cost per page.

Here are some things that you will need:

  • Printer: Not all printing devices are able to make etches on PVC cards with their ink. So, you will need to spend some time looking into many printers that run using inkjet printing technology. While doing this, you should also compare the printing features like speed, resolution, and connectivity to find the best device for yourself. The printer also needs to be compatible with the media you are using, along with its weight.
Printer TypeSpecialty
Direct-to-card printerUsed for photo ID cards, loyalty cards, membership cards and more
Not recommend for access control cards or smart cards
Best for simple card designs with basic photos, logos and text
Retransfer printer3 times more durable than standard DTC
ideal for access control cards and smart cards
High definition print quality
Inkjet printerExtremely user friendly
Can print on plastic card and access control card
  • PVC Card: As mentioned above, there are many card options that you can choose from, for your ID or Vaccination card. Remember to keep their size, color, thickness, and durability in mind while making a purchase. The price also deserves a lot of attention as it directly increases or decreases the cost per page.
PVC Card TypeDetails
PVC cards CR-80Dimensions 3.375″ x 2.125″ or 85.6 mm x 54 mm
Similar size and thickness as VISA & MasterCard
PVC cards CR-79Dimensions 3.303″ x 2.051″
Extended PVC CardDimensions 4.3” x 2.125”
CR-100 PVC CardDimensions 2.63″ x 3.88″, or 67 mm x 99 mm
Composite PVC cardsMore durable than standard PVC card
Suitable for retransfer printer
Magnetic Stripe CardContains encodable magnetic strip
Proximity cardkey card or contactless smart card
Pressure sensitive printable cardMost common size is CR 80
Common thickness are 10 mil, 14 mil, 24 mil
  • Design: Before printing, you always need to have a reliable design ready. Make sure to check that it perfectly fits the size of your card and add font colors that stand out from the plastic card’s background.
  • Ink: Not all inks can permanently sit on the glossy surface of your plastic card. So, you will need to invest some time searching for the right kind. Also, do not forget to put the cost of ink cartridges and the yield into consideration while making your purchase.
  • Card Software: ID cards need to display your employee’s personal information properly. To make sure you do not mess anything up, it is essential that you seek the assistance of the right card software. These are designed to assign information and images to the right spaces automatically. You also do not have to worry or waste time typing in everything again and again into the template.

How To Print Your Own Plastic Cards:

  1. Get Your Paper Tray Ready. Place the blank ID card that you want to print upon on the paper tray and adjust the paper guides so that they nicely hold it in position. Check to ensure that the clasp is not too tight otherwise; your printer will be unable to roll the plastic ID card in.
  2. Design Your Card. Type in the information at the designated spots and add colors, shapes, and photos. Make sure your image’s size is equal to the card’s dimensions to get a perfectly fitting output. Remember that you will need two images for the front and one for the back.
  3. Change the Print Settings. Go to the image that displays your ID card’s design and clicks on the Print icon. The Print dialogue box will appear, and you need to click on the Print Properties option to access other settings. Select Photo Printing present amongst the Commonly Used Settings options and do not forget to check the box before Borderless Printing. For Media Type, select Photo Paper Glossy and change the Print Quality to High. Lastly, change the Printer Paper Size according to your plastic ID card’s size and press the OK button present at the bottom.
  4. Print On Other Side. Your printer will slowly start churning out your printed ID card. Be careful not to touch the printed side as soon as it comes out to avoid smudging. After a couple of minutes, insert the card back in and print out the image on its other side. You will then receive your printed plastic card!

How Much Does It Really Cost to Print Your Own Plastic Cards?

When trying to calculate the cost of your printed plastic card, you will have to take many things into consideration. To start with, there is the price of each plastic card which might be around $0.04 to $0.07.

Amongst them, blank cards are the most budget-friendly option since they hold no details. They are made of PVC, come in white color, and tend to have a dimension of 3.375 x 2.125 inches. A glossy finish is given on both surfaces, which can be easily printed using inkjet printers.

In contrast, colorful PVC cards will cost you around $0.6 per page and bring you several choices in terms of shades. Grey, blue, light blue, navy blue, pink, dark green, cranberry, etc., are some common color options. These also have a glossy finish that makes the printed output stand out at all times.

Other than the mentioned picks, these days, black and metallic cards are also available at a price of approximately $0.08. These can be found mostly in gold, silver, copper, rose gold, and green gold shades. As for cards that glow in the dark, you can opt for fluorescent PVC cards, which come at a cost above $0.125.

In case you want to store data on your plastic printed cards, you have to go ahead and invest in magnetic stripe cards. This will come in white or colorful shades, and one penny is added to the original cost for the new feature.

In addition to the cost of your plastic card, you will also have to think about the cost of ink and electricity. This varies from printer to printer since each uses different brands of ink. Similarly, their efficiency varies depending on the printing technology.

Don’t Forget the Plastic Cards

As all the information has been shared, go print on plastic cards without further ado! They will offer you durably printed IDs that don’t wear out as easily as the cardstock ones. Since such paper remains unaffected by water, you also need not constantly stress about damaging them. Furthermore, folds and scratches are not quickly caused, so you can stash them away in your pockets, wallets, or purses without any issues popping up!

Once you are done properly printing them out, all you need to do is remember about carrying them along with you at all times! Don’t leave behind your plastic cards at home since otherwise, you might face some hassle in your daily routine!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can We Print PVC Card?

Yes, you can print on a PVC card as long as your device can produce output on high gsm papers. Inkjet printers are the most commonly used option since most printable PVCs offer a special absorbent coating for them. The surface is slightly porous, and so, the liquid ink can be absorbed quickly and dried to create amazing-looking results. However, the problem lies in the fact that this print can be effortlessly removed from the PVC card’s surface, allowing issues like identity theft or fraud.

Can My Printer Print On Card?

The answer to this question will depend on your printing device’s features. To learn whether your printer can or cannot print on a card, you will need to check out its specification chart. Then, fish out the maximum supported media weight and compared the value with that of your card’s weight. You will also need to look into the media compatibility since glossy surfaces need to be approved for successfully printing upon plastic cards.

What Plastic Are ID Cards Made Of?

Plastic ID cards mainly consist of PVC – Polyvinyl Chloride – a plastic compound that can be easily found. It is hence, not very expensive, allowing people to make their durable cards at a low cost per page.

However, if you are looking for better quality, then you will be presented with another type of plastic card that uses up to 60% PVC. The rest, 40%, is occupied by PET – Polyethylene terephthalate – a compound that increases the warp resistance and durability.

Are Inkjet PVC Cards Waterproof?

Yes, inkjet PVC cards face no damage after being in contact with water. This is because the ink gets quickly absorbed by the surface when you print upon it, causing the card to dry up in an instant. After this, the ink does not get smudged or leak out even if it comes in contact with other liquid. This makes PVC cards more durable than cardstock ones. As a result, users can rest assured about the safety of their IDs while carrying them along during bad weather conditions.

Can I Use Any Software To Print On Inkjet PVC Cards?

For printing out ID cards on PVC sheets, you will need to arrange the data with the help of software like MS Excel. This will make sure that you do not make mistakes while entering the information onto your card’s template. When talking about the ID card’s template, you will have to use photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop, GIMP, Adobe Illustrator, etc., to get your work done. Once the images for both sides of your inkjet PVC card are ready, you can proceed to press the print button or icons.