Realistically, anyone could copy your photo ID cards if they have half a brain and a dye sublimation printer. It might not be totally perfect, but it’s likely to be good enough to fool a security guard or event officials.
Put a hologram or a watermark layer on the cards and it’s a different story.
What is a hologram anyway?
Holograms are 3D images built in layers, making them multi-colour and multi-level. This is what makes them very difficult to forge. Flex one of your bank cards, or hold it in a different light and you’ll see a Holographic image visible and shining in 3D.
The gold standard in card security
Having a Hologram on your ID cards is the gold standard in security, especially if the Holographic design is unique to you. They simply can’t be faked in one (or two) dimensional print.
So how do you get one on your ID cards?
Contrary to popular belief, holograms aren’t printed as part of the card; they’re added on as a layer. Some printers do this by using what’s called a holographic overlaminate – a roll of film put over the surface of the card. Some companies use blank overlaminate to strengthen the durability of the card (great for heavy-duty use, for example outdoors), but embed a hologram onto it and it gives the card anti-counterfeiting protection too.
Creating your own custom 3D image in high resolution does come at a price
The large card printer manufacturers will custom print your own Holographic images, either directly onto a ‘bank’ of ID cards or onto bespoke overlaminate film ribbons. HID for example can print large quantities of Holographic Foil cards with your own unique hologram that you can then overprint with individual data and photographs using their Fargo printers. But origination fees are expensive and turn around can take up to 8 weeks.
Need a cheaper solution?
If your budget won’t quite stretch to a bespoke Hologram (and let’s face it, most SME’s budgets don’t), then you might want to consider a standard over laminate or watermark graphic on your ID cards instead. Although this provides a more basic level of security, it still gives protection from card alteration or tampering.
And better still, it’s included free of charge in some printers.
Magicard’s patented HoloKote technology is built into the majority of their card printers including the very attractively priced Magicard Pronto (you can snap one up for just £637). This anti-counterfeiting feature prints a frosted watermark graphic across the entire face of your ID cards during the normal printing cycle that gives the appearance of a hologram. There are no extra costs to do this and no consumables like holographic lamination ribbons to buy – it’s all built-in.
The Pronto comes with a choice of four watermark designs to choose from. Bear in mind though that this does only provide basic security – anyone with the same printer could theoretically produce exact the same cards with the same watermark.
This won’t worry those who are just looking to deter opportunists. But for situations where the risk is greater, you should consider upgrading to the likes of HoloKote with a custom key logo. Magicard can produce your own unique ‘logo’ panel that you then insert into your printer (currently available on their Rio and Tango models) for less than £400. This then prints your own unique logo watermark onto your cards.
Many card printer manufacturers have standard holographic designs available as an overlaminate film ribbon. For example, you can buy overlaminate ribbons for Evolis printer models including the Zenius and Primacy for around £60. Choose from a generic, genuine Globes or world holographic design. The ribbon slots into your printer and overlays the holographic image on each card. The ribbon is good for about 350 cards, after that you’ll need to buy another. Also bear in mind that this type of ribbon has a shelf life – typically around one year.
We’ve just added the Evolis Badgy to our range of plastic card printers, because we think it’s one of the best printers around in its price bracket. That, and we kinda like its name.
Who is it designed for?
The Evolis Badgy is aimed at users who want to print small to medium runs of photo ID cards and badges. The emphasis is on simplicity – the printer is so user-friendly that anyone can use it. It’s an all-in-one solution, so there’s no messing about with adding bits on, internal parts or complicated software. Set up is as easy as you would expect it to be.
If you need to be able to print your own photo ID cards for new starters throughout the year, or for contractors visiting your site on a daily basis, the Evolis Badgy is a great, cost-effective option.
Custom design your own cards
The Badgy comes with hundreds of free-to-download, easy-to-edit badge templates. Simply choose which one you want and customise it to your own requirements using the Office-Card software (add your logo, pictures etc.) All the templates are in Excel-format, so you can use them immediately.
The results are waterproof and tamper-proof quality cards.
What impressed us?
For such a small printer, we were impressed by the photo quality resolution and how quickly it prints. We also like the fact that there’s only one ribbon to replace, and it’s easy to do it. The package also comes with a stack of blank cards and ribbon so you really can just plug in and print.
It’s light and compact (and it looks cute), so it doesn’t take up a lot of desk space and is easily portable, making it ideal if you need to badge people at an event or conference.
What doesn’t it do?
It can’t manage large volumes and it doesn’t come with encoding technologies, though at this price we wouldn’t expect it to. If you need your cards to be ‘smarter’, you’ll need to look at an alternative, for example the Evolis Primacy printer which comes with the option of magnetic encoding.