New Turnaround Times for custom printed cards

We’ve just pinned down our turnaround times to make it easier when ordering a custom printed product from us.

Standard Turnaround time

Our Standard Turnaround time is 10 working days from card proof approval.

Whenever you place an order for custom printed cards from us, we’ll always send you a PDF proof of your artwork to sign-off. Approve that, and in most cases, we’ll also send you an actual card proof from our printing press to sign-off too. That way, you’ll know exactly what to expect from the final cards.

When you approve the card proof, we’ll get your run of printed cards to you within 10 working days.

You can choose to skip the card proof stage if you need your cards faster.

Fast Track Turnaround service

You can upgrade to our 7-working day Fast Track Turnaround for just £30.

The same applies as above – we’ll get your order to you within 7 working days of you signing off the card proof.

If your deadlines are tight, you can choose to move directly to print from PDF approval and skip the actual card proof.

Printing branded plastic cards? Make the back count

Rocksalt cloakroom tag

Whether you’re getting some membership cards, cloakroom tags, loyalty cards or key tags printed, don’t miss out on the branding opportunity presented on the back.

Most plastic card companies will print on the reverse of the card within the same quoted price, or for a bit extra.

So when you’re thinking about your design, here are a few ways to really make the back count.

Cloakroom Tags – branding, a disclaimer and even sponsorship Benares restaurant cloakroom cloakie tag

The back of your Cloakroom Tags is the perfect place for your disclaimer and Ts and Cs, but also for a message in your brand’s distinctive tone of voice, like Rocksalt’s “If you’ve got this ticket, we’ve still got your stuff.”

Atul Kochhar’s Benares Restaurant uses the back as a sponsorship opportunity – with Cobra taking pride of place. Perfect partnership.

Membership Cards – Fixture lists, sponsorship and member benefits

Rugby membership cardThere’s loads of ways to maximise the opportunity presented by the back of your membership cards. We have a number of clubs that print their fixtures on the reverse and others that promote other club facilities.

It’s also prime advertising space. Offer it up to the right sponsor, and you can Printed membership cardeasily cover the cost of the cards, and enhance your own brand image at the same time.  Think about relevant local partners or national brands that would be interested in the profile of your membership, or even brands that you sell internally that may want extra promotion (for example food or drink providers).

You can also use the back to remind members of the benefits or discounts available to them.

Hotel key card
Or just give a simple instruction!

Hotel key cards

There’s loads you can do here. Promote other services available in the hotel like your spa or restaurant, raise awareness of a special offer or give a discount on a repeat booking.

Carden park hotel key card
Include checkout times, useful numbers and other guest information

You could also use it to remind guests of useful numbers or opening/checkout or breakfast times, like Carden Park in Cheshire does for example.

Loyalty cards

Discounts, offers and text relating to the loyalty scheme are all ideally placed on the back so you don’t have to mess up the branding and design on the front. Put your social media buttons on there too.Printed loyalty cards

Or you could include a guest message encouraging card holders to call to book or pre-order for example, like Kemps Bistro in Liverpool have done here.

Bar tab cards

We’ve all got home after a night out to discover a bar tab card in our pocket. Which can mean only one thing – your bank card isn’t. A message on the back of the bar tab card is reassuring, and can be as fun as you like.

Basically, the back of a plastic card is up for grabs, and if you’re going to the expense of getting cards printed, it’s worth maximising the potential of both sides. You could of course include a QR code, signature strips or include blank panels that you can write members’ details or expiry dates on for example.

Badge your event better

Whatever the size of your event or conference, first impressions count. The car parking, the pathfinder signage and welcome branding; it all counts towards determining your guests’ initial impressions of your event.

And the same goes for their name badge.

So rather than printing out their names in Times New Roman and buying the same old throw-away badge holders, turn it into an opportunity.

Branded, personalised name badges make a big impression

Greeting attendees with a branded, plastic name badge conveys a far more professional image than a paper one ever could.

It’s also a key branding opportunity: one that’s on show for the whole of the conference or event, and will be prominent in any photography or media coverage.

So what’s the best – and most cost-effective – way to do it?

You’ll need a plastic card printer, commonly referred to as an ID card printer.

These aren’t as expensive as you might think. The model you’ll need (and therefore the cost involved) will depend on how much of a workhorse you need it to be. Entry level plastic card printers like the Evolis Badgy start at around £650 and are perfectly good for the light user, though you can spend up to £3,000 on an all-singing, all-dancing model if you need to produce large volumes of cards quickly.

Evolis Badgy ID card printer
Small and lightweight, the Badgy has everything you need to get started – just plug in and print

Most are small and lightweight, easy to carry around and designed to sit comfortably on a registration desk.

Before the event, set up the design template you want printed on the badges (you do this through the card design software) and do some test runs.

You can then pre-print attendees names so that they’re ready for them as soon as they arrive, or if you want to minimise wastage, print them when they turn up on the day.

Speed the process up by having the base cards pre-printed

Where this doesn’t work so well is when you have large numbers of people arriving at the same time.

One way to speed up the process is by having the card design pre-printed onto a stock of cards, so all you have to do is over-print the name on the day.

The most cost-effective way to do this (particularly in large numbers) is for a plastic card bureau to print a bank of cards, which you then put through your own ID card printer when required.

The bigger the run of cards at the bureau, the cheaper the unit price. So if you have a number of events planned throughout the year, think ahead and order all your cards now to make it most cost-effective.

Need the cards to be more than just name badges?

Using a card bureau is often the best way if you need the cards to do something more than just identify the wearer. For example, if you want the cards to also act as an access control card, or smart card; allowing the attendee to access VIP areas of a conference for example; it’s quicker and easier to have these capabilities already programmed rather than trying to do it on the day.

Then think about how your attendees will wear them

If you’ve spent time creating beautifully branded name badges, make sure they are shown off to their full advantage. Some card holders can encroach on the design; others require you to punch a hole in the card to attach to a lanyard or holder.

Pin crocodile clip for name badges
Using this fitting, the name badge can be pinned or clipped onto clothing

The easiest way to let the name badges take centre stage is to use a pin/crocodile clip, that affixes onto the card via an adhesive pad.

Want to recycle and re-use the cards?

Thousands of name badges end up in the bin at the end of conferences, but there is a way to re-use them.

A re-writable ID card printer, like the Evolis Tattoo, allows you to rewrite and reprint the same card up to 500 times.

Which not only makes it rather clever, but also highly economical and environmentally efficient.

Evolis Tattoo rewritable card printer
Lightweight and small, the Evolis Tattoo can re-print the same card up to 500 times

So ask your attendees to hand their badges in at the end of the conference, erase the name and you’ll have a card ready for your next event. The branding design that was pre-printed by the card bureau won’t be erased; just the name details you entered through your own card printer.

One thing to note: you’ll need to buy rewritable cards, regular plastic cards won’t do it.

Of course if your budget will stretch to a self-service registration kiosk that automates the entire registration and badging process, then brilliant. But if it doesn’t, there’s still plenty you can do to improve the way you badge your attendees.

 

Don’t throw name badges in the bin after an event – reuse them

How to re-use and re-issue your name badges at your next event or conference

Box for name badgesIf you run events or conferences, you’ll know that you never get back all those name badges you’ve spent time creating.

Usually, a big pile of them end up in the bin by the door. Or most commonly, the attendee doesn’t hand their name badge back in – and they end up in the bin by their door.

If you’ve spent time and money on your name badges and holders, this can be rather annoying.

Not to mention wasteful, and bad for the environment.

So what’s the answer?

There is a way you can reissue your name badges with a new name at your next event – using a rewritable card printer.

Rewritable card printers, like the Evolis Tattoo, are different to regular card printers in that they use rewrite technology rather than printer ribbons. The benefit of this printing method means that the print can be erased and new details printed time and time again, on the same card.

In fact, the same card can be erased and reprinted up to 500 times.

So rather than your name badges being one-use-only, they could carry on badging attendees at future events, and on, and on.

event name badgeThe benefits of using plastic cards for name badges

When you choose to print your name badges as plastic cards rather than paper, you’re making a statement that you value your attendees’ presence. They convey a more professional image, and are a valuable branding tool – one that’s on show for the whole of the conference (and appears in all the photographs).

Although more expensive than their paper counterparts, using rewritable cards means you’ll save money in the long run by reusing them, and help with your company’s environmental policy too.

Now you just need to ensure they get handed back in

The easiest way to do this is to set up a stand by the exit with a sealed box, asking people politely to drop their name badges through the slot as they leave. You could also add an incentive for doing so; say a bottle of champagne to the first card pulled out.

Using a sealed box protects your attendee’s privacy and is more secure, preventing unwanted guests from finding a name badge and gaining access without your permission.

Read more about rewritable card printers and rewritable cards.

Save money on your next plastic ID card printer

Trade-in deals available when you buy an Evolis Card Printer – get up to £150 off

Upgrade to the latest card printing technologies and get money off
Upgrade to the latest card printing technologies and get money off

If you’re in the market for a new ID card printer, you can trade-in your old card printer for money off the best-selling Evolis range.

We accept all brands of plastic card printer, and doesn’t have to be working

Your current card printer doesn’t have to be an Evolis to qualify, and it doesn’t matter if it’s not currently working. All we ask is that it’s a complete printer – i.e. not in parts.

So if you’re experiencing poor print quality that isn’t improved by a cleaning kit, or you’re looking to upgrade to more sophisticated capabilities, don’t just recycle your current printer – trade-it in for money off a new one.

For more information, get in touch with us at sales@thecardnetwork.co.uk, 0344 225 2303 or via LiveChat.

 

Magstripes to microns: Just what do they mean anyway?

 

Know your onions when it comes to plastic cards

Plastic card terminology
Plastic card terminology explained

There’s a fair bit of jargon when it comes to printed plastic cards. Here’s how to know your LoCo from your HiCo (and whether you need them at all).

Microns
You’ll notice that plastic cards are measured in microns rather than mm’s. This refers to the thickness of the card. A standard bank cards is 760 microns. Some discount cards or appointment cards can be thinner, often 680 or 420 microns.

Always check the microns so you know what you’re getting. The higher the microns, the thicker and better quality the card will be.

Magnetic stripe (often referred to as mag stripe)
Whether or not you need plastic cards with magnetic stripes depends on what you want them to do, and whether you have the system that works with them.

For example, if you have the technology that allows members to ‘swipe’ through a turnstile, access lockers or buy their lunch, you’ll need a magnetic stripe on the back of the card.

Mag stripes come encoded or unencoded. If you want them to be supplied already encoded (i.e. programmed to work with your system), you’ll need to provide the relevant information to the card supplier. Or they can be sent unencoded, for you to ‘match up’ at your end. Consult the user manual that came with your system for more information.

HiCo or LoCo?
Next you’ll need to decide if you need a HiCo or LoCo mag stripe. HiCo are typically black, whereas LoCo are usually brown.

HiCo magstripes are more secure and stable. They are commonly used in situations where cards are frequently swiped and the need for security is higher  (for example in accessing a building).

LoCo magstripes are fine in situations where security is less important and the need for the card to hold information is temporary; for example gift cards or hotel key cards.

Mifare cards/smart cards
Smart cards or Mifare cards are capable of many functions, thanks the chip contained within them. They are commonly used for access control, transport, ticketing, smart wallets etc. The Oyster Card is a well-known example of a smart card – capable of being ‘loaded’ with money and scanned by readers.

Smart cards can be printed on and branded in the same way that regular cards can. They’re more expensive than a regular plastic card, because they’re capable of so much more.

Other features to personalise cards
You can also choose to include a range of features on your printed plastic cards, for example signature panels, bar codes or QR codes. These usually cost extra, so consider whether you actually need them before ordering.

One other thing – check what the card is made of

Don’t just assume that the plastic cards are 100% plastic. Some printed plastic cards have a cardboard inner core, particularly if sourced from the Far East, which results in a much lower quality card.  It impacts on colour definition and vibrancy – you’ll often see a border around the card where the cardboard ends, and they aren’t as durable.

If you need any help on ordering printed plastic cards, our friendly team are happy to answer any questions.

Save money when printing your 2015 membership cards

Print more than you need & ‘bank’ the rest for overprinting new members’ details throughout the year

Most clubs use a card bureau to issue their membership cards, or print their own in-house. A combination of the two may be most cost-effective…

With 2015 nearly upon us, many clubs and organisations are in the throes of organising their membership programme for the new year. Printing the actual membership cards themselves is often the biggest expense to bear, so here are a few ways you can save money and reduce admin time.

First – consider the most cost-effective way to print the cards

The two main options here are: a) invest in a plastic card printer and print your own, or b) have them printed by a plastic card supplier (a card bureau).

Which path you choose will depend greatly on how many membership cards you need to print, and how often throughout the year you need to print them.

If it’s a one-off run of hundreds of cards, outsourcing to a card bureau will always be cheaper than investing in a card printer and consumables. However that’s in terms of one-off costs – a plastic card printer does begin to return value after a few years of use – but depending on how much a work horse it is, it may not last much longer than that.

If you only print small quantities of cards, an entry-level card printer like the Badgy may be your best bet. Yes you’ll have to buy consumables and you’ll have the initial outlay, but you’ll also have the flexibility of printing one or two membership cards throughout the year, whenever you need them.

Or you could do both and save money

If you print a significant number of membership cards, and need to issue new ones throughout the year, have your card bureau run a quantity of unpersonalised membership cards, for overprinting with new members’ details throughout the year.

This in effect creates a ‘bank’ of membership cards for when you need them – produced professionally so they don’t look any different from the initial run. The card bureau can then overprint members’ names and numbers when required – or you can run them through your own card printer.

This route cuts down on reordering costs throughout the year, and if you choose the card bureau route, the need to invest in a card printer at all. The Card Network offer this overprinting service – please get in touch with us for more information.

If you’re going to be using a plastic card printer for all, or part of your programme…

… make sure you’re using the right ribbon

The range of different printer ribbons out there can be a bit bewildering. In order to keep your printing costs down, choose the right ribbon for the job.

If you’re printing double sided membership cards yourself, on a double-sided printer, the most common mistake is using a YMCKO ribbon, rather than a YMCKOK one.

A YMCKOK ribbon basically has a second black panel, and is designed specifically for use with double sided card printers. It allows you to print full colour on the front of the card and black on the reverse – making it ideal for clubs who print graphics on the front, but only sparse details on the back.

If you were to use a YMCKO ribbon instead, you would have to use all 5 panels on the front, then all 5 panels on the back. The result? You use up the ribbon twice as fast.

However if you just want to overprint a member’s details (like name and membership number) onto an already printed card, you don’t need an all singing, all dancing ribbon. A single-colour ribbon could do the job just fine. You can get ribbons in a choice of colours, including silver and gold, and the cost is considerably cheaper per print than using an YMCKO ribbon.

Also think about the quantity of membership cards you need to produce and don’t overbuy on printer capacity. Each ribbon is capable of printing a certain number of cards, so if you only need a handful on an irregular basis, don’t shell out on a 1000 capacity ribbon when 200 would do. Especially as ribbons have a shelf-life – generally of about a year.

For more information on choosing the right printer ribbon for your job, read our blog. http://blog.thecardnetwork.co.uk/2014/07/save-money-use-the-right-ribbon-for-your-plastic-card-printer/

For more information about our overprinting service, please get in touch.

Deck the halls with… printed plastic cards

What do you do with your used gift cards & old printed plastic cards?

We generally have a load of old printed plastic cards lying around (no surprise there).

There are only so many guitar picks we can make, especially given we don’t even play the guitar. And we already have an inexhaustible supply of ice scapers. So we’re always looking for new ways to recycle them.

printed plastic card wreath
Forget the Holly & the Ivy & upcycle instead

Here are a few different ways you can get crafty and put your old loyalty cards, gift cards or discount cards to good use.

1. Adorn your door with a festive loyalty card wreath

Definitely our favourite this one. We’ve started on ours, so we’ll let you know how it goes. But we doubt very much it will ever look as good as this by Lauren Venell.

2. Turn it into a lunch fork

Recycled plastic fork
Handy!

This clever fella came up with the idea of a pocket sized piece of disposable cutlery. Ta Dah! The credit card fork was born. Easy to carry and doesn’t cost you anything. Brilliant.

3. Create some stables for your nativity.

Get the kids involved in sticking together some of your old printed plastic cards to make miniature buildings – the cards make good walls and roofs.

We’ve had a lot of fun making sheds for the sheep, but you’ll note we’re not showing any photos. There’s a good reason for this.

recycled plastic card necklace
A gift for the woman who has everything?!

4. Make a necklace

It’s hard to believe that this necklace is made out of Starbucks gift cards, but it is. You’ll have to put some serious time and care into pulling this one off, but we reckon no-one would know what it’s made of when you’re done.

5. Bookmarks and paperclips

Bookmarks with a difference – good little stocking filler gifts. You can find some templates & how to do it here

printed plastic card plant marker
The ‘green’ green choice

6. Mini blackboard plant markers for the garden

Another great idea this. Get some blackboard paint and a plastic fork and hey presto, you’ve got some funky little plant markers. You’ll have to source a grease pencil though (whatever that is) as obviously chalk isn’t exactly weather proof.

If you’re looking for a few ideas that take a bit less time and effort, here are a few suggestions:

– Cut out some collar stays for your shirts

– Put them in your cutlery drawer – printed plastic cards are great for scraping up biscuit dough or pastry

– Give them to young kids to put in their purses and play pretend ‘shop’ with

– They make great art implements for kids – use them with paint and get them to scrape the paint along the paper

– Put them in the toolbox for the next DIY job, they’re perfect for smoothing on Polyfilla or scraping jobs.

Any other ideas? Have you created a full Noah’s ark out of last year’s gift cards? Please let us know. Oh, and send pics.

 

 

Fisticuffs in your shared car park?

 

Visible from a distance, durable and flexible

Deter illegal parkers with hanging car park passes

Parking is often quoted as one of the most stressful parts of a working day.

Finding someone parked in your allocated spot or being unable to find a space when there should be enough to go round gets stress levels rising – before you’ve even reached your desk.

Shared car parks are often the worst

If you share a car park with lots of other companies in the building or business park, it can be hard to monitor who’s using it. Even if you have a car park barrier in place, that’s no guarantee that each person is parking in the right space when they’re inside it.

Hanging car park passes visibly deter ‘illegal’ parkers

One easy and cost-effective way to get round the problem is to have branded hanging car park passes printed with your own company information. Made in durable, flexible plastic, they hang from the rear view mirror and are highly visible – much more so than standard passes that sit on the dashboard.

As well as making it easy for security to spot them, branded hanging car park passes will deter any opportunistic parker from a distance – far better than just a sign could.

As the weather gets worse, so will the problem

People who were happy to stand at the train station or bus stop in the summer are less inclined to do it in the winter. If you make car park hanging passes company policy, they won’t be able to ‘chance their arm’ in their car when the weather’s bad.

Make hanging car park passes part of your visitor policy too

One of the issues in a shared car park is visitor parking. Make handing out a car park pass part of your signing-in procedure at reception, and it will soon become clear if other staff are trying to pass themselves off as a visitor.

Our custom designed plastic hanging car park passes start from just £190.68 for 100, and come in two sizes: 245x90mm or 148x85mm.

If there’s one thing that’s going to prompt a scuffle over a latte and croissant, it’s not getting the car parking space you’re entitled to.

 

Save money: use the right ribbon for your plastic card printer

Choose the right ribbon for the right job & save money on re-ordering

Do you know which card printer ribbon is best for your particular card printing? If you don’t know what all the terms mean, it can get a bit confusing. Selecting the right ribbon for the job won’t just ensure better results; it can also save you money and maximise the productivity of your plastic card printer.

First things first – what do all those terms mean?

plastic card printer ribbon
Increase productivity & save cost by choosing the right ribbon

Although you might be used to seeing CMYK on your desktop printer inks, plastic card printer ribbons are a bit different. They are split into panels, each panel being represented by a letter. These mean:

Y = Yellow dye sublimation panel
M = Magenta dye sublimation panel
C = Cyan dye sublimation panel
K = Black resin panel
O = Overlay panel.

Your plastic card printer mixes the yellow, magenta, cyan and black together to create all colours in the spectrum.

So which is right for which purpose?

YMC ribbons
These are fine for full colour cards where you don’t need a crisp black, because the black will be made by mixing the yellow/magenta/cyan together. For example, basic membership cards. Don’t shell out for one of the ‘all singing, all dancing’ ribbons if that’s all you need to do.

YMCK ribbons
However if you need to print barcodes or QR codes, you’ll need a ribbon with a black panel for the codes to be good quality enough to be scanned. If you’re printing photo ID cards or need crisp black text, you’ll almost certainly want a YMCK ribbon.

YMCKO ribbons
YMCKO ribbons include a transparent overlay panel that basically adds a thin layer of protection to the cards, sealing in the print colours and giving them more durability. This helps with fading and wear and tear – important if cards are used outdoors regularly, or in a manual job. They increase the shelf life of your cards and are becoming the standard purchase for many customers, as there isn’t a big price hike.

YMCKOK ribbons
A second black? Well, yes. These ribbons are designed specifically for double sided plastic card printers, to allow you to print full colour on the front of the card and black on the reverse. In other words, the YMCKO panels work on the front, the K on the back.

Using one of these ribbons for this job will save you money over using a YMCKO ribbon. Using a YMCKO ribbon means the printer will use all 5 panels to print the front, and another 5 panels to print the back. The result? You use up the ribbon twice as fast.

Want to print double-sided cards, but both in colour?

Unfortunately plastic card printer manufacturers haven’t come up with a YMCKOYMCKO ribbon yet, so you’ll need to use a YMCK or YMCKO ribbon to print both sides. Just be aware that you’ll also use it up twice as fast, but there’s no alternative.

Only printing a single colour? Then use a monochrome ribbon

You’d be surprised how many people think that ‘monochrome’ means ‘black’ rather than ‘one colour’. If you’re overprinting in a single colour, for example adding name or membership data, then use a monochrome ribbon rather than wasting a YMCKO one. Monochrome ribbons come in a variety of colours, including gold and silver and are considerably cheaper, per card, than YMCKO ones.

How many cards do you need to print?

Each printer ribbon is capable of printing a certain number of cards, so make sure you choose the right one for your need. If your plastic card printer is only printing a handful of cards on an irregular basis, don’t waste money on a 1000 image ribbon for example, when a 200 image would do.

The larger the print ribbon the less the cost per card, so if you’re printing larger numbers, invest in a higher image one. This will also save on re-ordering costs such as delivery.

Still not sure which ribbon is right for your plastic card printer?

Give one of our friendly team a call – we’re happy to help guide you.