Using Security Card Printers to Produce ID Cards

James Todman asked:

Card Printers have unique customisable levels of security to ensure an ID card cannot be easily counterfeited. This article identifies some of the methods that are used.

Ensure a strong base card is used. It must be durable and resistant to cracking. Choose card stock that is ten times the flex life of regular PVC cards and check that it does not tear easily. The lanyard slot in the top of a regular PVC card is a weak point. If it can be torn it’s simple for a forger to replace the photo and create an ID card that will fool a brief inspection.

A high capability card printer will have a built-in laminator that extends card life by up to seven years. It applies a protective laminate covering to the ID card. This is recommended if the ID card is frequently swiped using abrasive equipment such as a bar code or magnetic stripe reader.

A basic ID card will have the holder’s name, photograph, signature and in some cases colour coding to show access entitlement. It’s simple to inspect at a glance but also very easy to reproduce.

To prevent illegal reproduction card stock can be purchased that has pre-printed security features including ultra-violet visible text. Micro text can be used that is only known to the issuing organisation. Pre-printed serial numbers can also be incorporated into card stock.

All these features are exceptionally difficult to reproduce. For instance micro text can be as small as 5 thousandths of an inch (0.125mm). Most card printers cannot print text this small so without the card stock it is virtually impossible to reproduce an ID card.

UV holograms printed over the surface of an ID card are an effective security measure. The image is not visible to the ***** eye but can be seen under UV light. A hologram images including embossed micro-text can be incorporated into the over-laminate film that is applied by card printers.

Storing the cardholder’s information on a centrally located computer enables a security officer to check details and compare a photograph by using the ID card’s magnetic stripe, proximity chip or smart card.

High capability card printers can be set up for this function. Card stock must be used that has been pre-printed with a serial number. The serial number is recorded on the card’s credential medium such as the magnetic stripe, proximity chip or smart card. The employee’s details are then attached to this serial number and stored in the printer’s host computer. This information can be uploaded to the issuing organisation’s central database.

When the ID card needs to be checked the serial number triggers the cardholder’s details to be downloaded to a local terminal, on which photographs and card information are displayed and can be compared with the original.

The strength of an ID card’s security comes from a combination of media features, card printer capabilities, database verification and built in security measures such as holographic images. Card printers come in a variety of models, all with different capabilities. A specialist card printer retailer or manufacturer will be able to provide advice about which model is best for an organisation’s needs.

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