New Smart-51 Card Printer range replaces the Smart-50

Smart 51 plastic card printer


As of November 2017, The IDP Smart-50 card printer range has been discontinued, and replaced with the new Smart-51; IDP’s next generation of mid-range card printers.

So what’s changed?

The official line is that the Smart 51-has inherited the most successful and proven elements of the Smart-50 card printers, but comes with superior speed and print quality.

Around 10% faster

The Smart-51 is 10% faster than its older cousin, and now boasts an impressive print speed of 5 seconds for a monochrome card (or 720 cards per hour) and 17 seconds for full colour.

So if you’re printing significant quantities of cards at any one time, you’ll notice the difference. The reduced printing noise is a welcome addition too.

The range also comes with a host of user-friendly features:

  • State of the art CPU display
  • A larger card loading capacity of up to 200 cards with the cover open
  • A new input hopper and removable output hopper
  • Support of transparent cards
  • Cartridge type laminate film loading
  • Al-in-one type lock system
  • A new metal frame body for the printing engine which makes for more stable card printing.

Various add-on options available

The Smart-51 is designed to be flexible, and to grow as your card needs change. You can choose the printer that suits you best now, and is therefore most cost-effective, with the confidence that it’s future proofed if you need to add on more capabilities later.

From the most basic model, you can easily add a flipper or laminator for dual sided printing or laminating, or add magnetic stripe, contact or contactless encoding technology if you need to.

Ribbons and consumables for the Smart 50 range still available

Smart 51 ribbonsAlthough the Smart 50 printers themselves have been discontinued, we are advised that the Smart 50 ribbons and consumables will continue to be produced for a long time yet.

One thing to bear in mind that the new Smart 51 ribbons and consumables won’t work in the ‘old’ Smart 50s, and vice versa, so be careful when you’re ordering.

Free software still available

Buy a Smart 51 printer from The Card Network and it comes bundled with the Easybadge Lite ID Card Software, which normally retails around £105 + VAT.

This software is ideal for first-time users, as it’s very easy and quick to set-up and use. The Easybadge App that comes along with it also allows you to create ID badges for staff at different locations easily, as they upload their photographs and details via the App.

5-year warranty as standard

All models come with IDP Smart’s unrivalled 5-year warranty, which show’s IDP Smart’s confidence in their technology.

Search the IDP Smart range of plastic card printers.

New collection of card holders and lanyards for Spring

purple pink yellow lanyards

Fed up of winter?

Banish the blues (and greys and dark greens) with our new collection of brightly coloured ID Card Holders and Lanyards.

They might not bring sunshine into your life in the way a holiday to Barbados would, but the bright spring colours are bound to cheer your surroundings up a bit. Choose from pink, yellow, orange and purple.

What’s more, our new collection of card holders are manufactured right here in the North-West, so you can proudly Buy British.

Made by Evohold, from recycled plastic,  100 card holders will set you back just £8 + VAT for 100.

Beat that China.


The Card Network produces the first Hynt cards

Hynt access card
New Hynt cards to help disabled patrons access the arts in Wales


The Card Network in Sandycroft has just begun to print the first ever Hynt cards, part of a new initiative to support disabled patrons and their Carers in accessing the arts at venues across Wales.

Hynt, which launched at the beginning of April in Cardiff, is a pan-Wales initiative, commissioned by Arts Council of Wales and managed by Creu Cymru in partnership with Diverse Cymru.

Hynt is made of three main components: a centrally administered card scheme, entitling cardholders to a ticket, free-of-charge for a Carer or Personal Assistant; a website providing a range of accessibility information; and an ongoing training programme for its network of venues.

The Card Network were awarded with the contract for the production and administration of the Hynt card, mainly thanks to their experience of delivering similar programmes.

ID card specialists

For the last ten years, The Card Network has managed and administered the Cinema Exhibitors Association (CEA card) – a national card scheme for disabled guests visiting the cinema. Disabled patrons with a valid CEA card are also eligible for one complimentary ticket for their carer.

Neal Smith, MD of The Card Network said:

We’re delighted to see the first Hynt cards rolling off our presses and being posted out, and we’re really pleased to be part of such an important and ground-breaking scheme. It’s great to know that we’re supporting a Wales-wide initiative from Flintshire.”

30 of Wales’ cultural venues are currently signed up to the scheme, including Clwyd Theatr Cymru in Mold and Venue Cymru in Llandudno. It is expected that up to 9,000 disabled patrons will sign up as scheme members.

Hynt Project Manager Emma Evans said:

The Card Network has been much more than just a supplier on this project, they’ve been a true partner. Their experience in managing the CEA card has proved to be invaluable to us. We’re looking forward to seeing the first Hynt cards presented in the venues themselves, then all our hard work will have become a reality.”

Those who wish to apply for a Hynt card can do so online at The process is simple – fill in a short application form, provide a passport style photograph and proof of eligibility. A photo ID card is then printed and sent to you.

The Hynt scheme is the first initiative of its kind, placing Wales as a leader in the improvement of equality of access across the arts.

How to include holograms & watermarks on ID cards

Protect your ID cards from copying and tampering

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?

Hologram bank card
Look for holograms on your credit cards

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 HoloKote

Magicard pronto printer
HoloKote is included as standard – no extra costs

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.

Read more here.

Evolis and standard holographic laminates

Holographic film
Be aware: holographic films have a shelf life of around 1 year

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.

Read more about Evolis printers



Don’t overspend on ID cards, use our card bank

Photo ID cards cost less than you think – especially when you can ‘bank’ any you don’t need for later use

Photo ID cards aren’t just for large companies with the budgets to match.

The Card Network caters for small companies, charities or organisations that want to badge a small number of staff for security or safety purposes. With more ID card suppliers in the UK switching to offering card printers only, we’re proud to still offer ID cards in quantities as small as 10.

Supporting small enterprises and charities

photo id cards
High quality, durable photo ID cards don’t have to break the bank

Many of our customers are small organisations or charities that need small numbers of ID cards for collectors or fundraisers. The nature of their work means they might need one or two new ID cards every month or so, for a new collector or a new event. This leaves them facing two unattractive options: either invest in an expensive ID card printer, or pay for a new print run every time a new card was needed.

We didn’t think this was very fair, so we introduced Card Bank.

Our ID Cards come in packs of 10, 25, 50, 100 & 250.

If you don’t use all of the cards in a pack with your initial order, you can ‘bank’ the remainder with us for future use at no extra cost.

It’s a great way of meeting future card requirements without any hassle or spending further budget.

How does it work?

Simply choose one of our card packs and whatever quantity you don’t use will be held in a virtual ‘bank’. So if you only need 16 cards right now, order the 25 pack and we’ll hang onto the other 9 cards until you need them.

You can then place orders throughout the year, even for single cards, until your balance is used up. There is no extra charge for this service, and you can order as many times as you like. You’ll only pay a small fee for packing and delivery.

What are the benefits of ordering this way?

  • Save time and hassle

Having a bank of cards ready to be ‘drawn down’ whenever you need them makes the process of ordering cards simple and quick – you don’t have to go through the ordering and billing process again.

  • More cost effective

If you order a larger block of cards than you need straight away, you’ll benefit from a lower unit price and you won’t have to pay for any small quantities in the future.

  • Less paperwork

There’s only one purchase order and one invoice to deal with, rather than the hassle of raising paperwork for every individual order.

  • No minimum quantity

You can order your cards in as small quantities as you like, even single cards. The only thing you’ll pay for is a small delivery charge.

  • Fast turnaround

As there are no purchase orders or invoices to be raised, or designs to be created, we can print your cards and despatch them straight away.

Search our range of photo ID cards.

6 unusual & plain weird uses for ID cards

If you thought ID cards were just for flashing at the security guard at work, or for near strangling you when reaching over to the car park sensor, think again.

ID badges
ID cards: what will they think of next?

We’ve collected together some of the lesser-known ones, some of which are a great idea, others are just bizarre.

1. ID Cards for young carers in Cornwall

Action for Children has just launched ID cards and crisis booklets for young carers, which will shortly be handed out in Cornwall.

Young people who care for a parent or family member often have a list of responsibilities that don’t fit into the ‘norm’, such as the need to leave school early to pick up siblings, collect prescriptions or keep a mobile to hand all the time.

Their ID cards will act as proof of their individual situation and outline their specific needs, and hopefully make their lives a little less stressful and challenging.

2. Chinese Street Lamps

Yes, you read that correctly.

The Shushan District of Anhui in China has recently made ID cards for over 4000 street lamps in the district, complete with a serial number and barcode.

Their purpose is to ensure that each number of street lamp is ‘the only one in the world’, thus making routine checks and maintenance quicker and easier.

We haven’t made this up, honest. It’s part of an information management system that will soon contain ‘all the data in the life-span of the public facilities’. Watch out random piece of broken fencing near the car park, you’re next.

3. Child safety ID cards

These are proving to be increasingly popular in the US, with many towns and districts running community family safety events that include the option to get free child ID cards.

The ID cards are created on the day, and contain name details, biographical information, a digital photo and fingerprint images of both index fingers.

The ID cards are kept by the parents – not the children – as a means of quickly providing up-to-date information to official bodies if a child goes missing, to give them a ‘head start’ in searching for them.

It sounds good in principle, but what if the parent’s purse or wallet is stolen? They’ve just handed over their child’s private information on a plate.

Also, and just as importantly, what about the privacy issue? If the information is stored on a database somewhere – which it inevitably will be – then surely the children’s data is subject to misappropriation, in some cases before they’ve even learned to count to 10.

4. Shiver me timbers: Somali fishermen

Bona-fide Somali fishermen are being issued with ID cards by the Somali Government so they can prove they aren’t pirates.

Apparently a good number are being mistakenly arrested or shot at by EU naval patrols that mistake them for profiteers or hijackers. Hardly ideal for them.

5.  Radiation ID cards

An entirely sensible idea for children who are subject to a lot of radiation in hospital through scans or x-rays.

The radiation ID cards, which are currently in use in Joe DiMaggio hospital in South Florida, record each time a young patient is exposed to radiation, and for how long. This way they can monitor their total exposure, and lower doses accordingly.

 6. ID cards for stray cats and dogs

Ok, so really these ID cards are for those animal lovers who feed stray cats and dogs on the streets of Mumbai. They often get a bit of stick from neighbours who don’t appreciate their efforts, so the Animal Welfare Board of India are providing them with ID cards in order to protect them: women and senior citizens primarily.

If you need some photo ID cards printing, say for your collection of goldfish or your drinking buddies down the pub, search our range here. Packs start from just 10 cards.

Biometrics in schools: big win or big brother?

“If you don’t know the password you can’t come in.”

It’s a phrase often heard in school playgrounds up and down the country, as children play games with their friends.

But frankly, passwords could soon be irrelevant if biometrics continue to take off in the way that they have.

A piece of research carried out by Big Brother Watch based on data from the 2012-13 academic year, and published earlier this year, revealed that an estimated 40% of schools in England are using biometric systems. It therefore surmised that fingerprints have already been taken from more than one million school pupils; many without their parents consent.

These fingerprints are the necessary ‘password’ to access many of the school’s services, from paying for their lunch to checking out a library book.

The argument ‘for’

biometrics in schools
One upside can be the increase in library books being checked out

Supporters of using biometrics in schools are quick to point out a number of benefits. The most obvious one being security – a fingerprint can’t be copied or lost in the way that an ID card can. Then there’s the speed and convenience: no more queues at a card scanner when arriving at school or rummaging around for coins, holding everyone up, at lunchtime.

Let’s not forget the ‘cool’ factor in all of this as well. Opponents to fingerprinting in schools tend to be the parents, not the kids themselves, who generally welcome the idea, and look forward to the whole ‘sci-fi’ deal that goes with it.

One of the unexpected benefits was found in the library. Some schools reported a big jump in books being borrowed – the kids liked using the fingerprint scanner so they took out more books. Always having the means to check out a book ‘on them’ meant they were more likely to do so.

The solution also helps to ensure equality at meal times. With everyone using their fingerprint to ‘buy’ their lunch, it’s impossible to tell who qualifies for free school meals, which means no-one is singled out.

The argument against

For all its supporters, there are certainly those who are passionately against the use of biometrics. The concerns range from worries over privacy and the ability to ‘steal’ and misappropriate personal data, to the fact that these systems normalise the act of tracking and monitoring pupil’s behaviour.

Some of those responding to the report released by Big Brother Watch talk about the danger of biometric information lying on a database somewhere, at the mercy of hackers or lost by those clumsy enough to leave a laptop on a train. Biometrics providers are quick to point out that records of the actual fingerprint aren’t stored; rather it is encrypted into a series of digits. This is what’s used to confirm ID against the fingerprint presented.

One comment, left by Anonymous, sums up the concerns around privacy in the future:

Future generations will not have any privacy or know what it is like to have privacy if we do not stop the erosion of privacy now… Yes it might be easier for kids to provide a fingerprint to get a library book out now but can they really be sure that it won’t come back to bite them in the future removing any possibilities of choice and privacy that they might want?”

The Freedom of Information Act

One of Big Brother Watch’s major issues is the fact that as many as 31% of the fingerprints were taken without gaining consent from the parents. With the introduction of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, which was passed in 2013, this should be a thing of the past.

The legal framework states that colleges and schools must follow these rules for biometric recognition systems:

– For all pupils in schools and colleges under 18, they must obtain the written consent of a parent before they take and process their child’s biometric data.

– They must treat the data with appropriate care and must comply with data protection principles as set out in the Data Protection Act 1998.

– They must provide alternative means for accessing services where a parent or pupil has refused consent.

A moot point for many schools

Let’s not forget that installing a biometric system doesn’t come cheap, so it simply won’t be realistic within some school’s budgets. But for those who can afford it, what will be the real price?

You can read the full Big Brother Watch report here

Does your school use a biometric solution? What kind of feedback have you had from parents and the children themselves? We’d love to know what you think.

Proud to still provide printed ID cards

As more ID card suppliers in the UK switch to offering card printers only, The Card Network continues to offer printed ID cards in quantities as small as 10.

Supporting small enterprises and charities

Printed plastic ID card
Our high quality ID cards start in packs of 10

Many of the people who buy our ID card packs are charities, who need small numbers of ID cards for their collectors or fundraisers. Our packs of 25 or 50 cards are also popular with smaller companies and primary schools that want to badge their staff.

Neither has the money to invest in costly card printers. Whereas larger organisations with a regular need for ID cards may benefit from a plastic card printer, the return on investment simply isn’t there for the smaller player. We don’t believe you should be penalised for your size, which is why we continue to offer small runs of ID cards.

Use only what you need and ‘bank’ the rest for later

All our ID card packs also come with our ‘card bank’. This means we only print the number of cards you need now, then save the rest until you need them. So if you only need 17 ID cards at the moment, buy the 25 card pack and you can call on the remaining 8 ID cards throughout the year. You can ‘call off’ the remaining cards as many times as you like – the only charge will be a new posting fee.

10 ID cards, clips & card holders start from just £93.09. We can also add signature panels or magnetic stripe for extra security from as little as £1 extra. Our prices also include design & artworking – simply send us your details and we’ll do the rest.

The Card Network is committed to supporting small enterprise. We supply our high quality, low cost ID cards to schools, colleges, healthcare organisations, charities and companies all over the country.


Bonfire night safety: ID badges

Fireworks display
ID badges play an important part at an organised Bonfire event

Bonfire night is just around the corner. If you’re planning an organised fireworks event, safety and security will be at the top of the agenda. When you’re going through your health & safety checklist, consider the benefits of ID badges.

Clearly badging event organisers promotes safety and security

– It’s a simple thing, but giving organisers ID badges helps to increase security and promote safety. For a start, event-goers then know who’s in charge, and who to go to if they need help – which prevents people milling about unsure of where to go. From a security standpoint, it means only those badged should access specific areas.

– Giving ID badges to the people actually in charge of the fireworks clearly signifies that only those people can access the fireworks area – no one else should be allowed in. As well as wearing fluorescent jackets, Stewards should be badged too.

– If you have first aiders standing by in case of an accident, ID badges are particularly important. They make them easily identifiable in times of distress – as well as giving confidence and reassurance.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to buy a large quantity

Many small organisations or charities don’t consider ID badges because they think they won’t be able to afford them, or that they won’t come in small quantities. The Card Network sells 10 plastic card ID badges with clips and lanyards from just £90.09. Each card is personalised to your details, so you could have 2 for first aiders, 3 for stewards etc. Simply send us the information and photographs and we’ll do the rest.

Of course ID badges can only do so much. The building blocks of a successful bonfire night lie in the planning and organisation: having the adequate insurance in place, crowd control, parking, adequate lighting, supervised areas etc. For more information on planning a display and safety recommendations see the Safer Fireworks website.

Bonfire night should be a fun and exciting time for everyone, but it’s especially important to keep children safe. For advice on child safety, download and print out this helpful leaflet from the Children’s Safety Education Foundation.

ID cards replaced in a heartbeat?

Ever thought you’d be able to unlock a door or your PC with your heartbeat?

No? We didn’t either. But Bionym’s latest brainchild – the Nymi – promises to do all that, and more.

Bionym nymi
It’s enough to set our pulses racing

On first glance, the Nymi is a simple looking wristband, a bit like a minimalist watch. But according to Bionym, it’s actually “the first wearable authentication technology that allows you to take control of your identity through cardiac rhythm recognition”. Or put another way, this nifty wristband is able to authenticate your identity by measuring the rhythm of your pulse.

So in any situation where you have to prove your identity to do something – like use your ID cards, pay for your lunch or boot up your laptop – the Nymi will automatically do it for you.

The latest advance in access control?

There have been a lot of innovations unveiled recently in the world of access control and ID cards security. HID Global have recently introduced their gesture based methods – which would allow us to open doors with the right wave of the hand. New biometric methods and smartphone technologies continue to make headlines. Will this new wristband be the way you unlock your car doors in the future?

Be still my beating heart…

What we want to know is what happens if your heartbeat speeds up or down? What if someone in the office reception sets your heart racing? Will you be locked out until you calm down?

We’ll have to wait and see – it’s early days. The company haven’t released the hardware yet, or the developer program.

However if you want to be first in line when they do come out, you can pre-order for the launch price of $79. There’s even a choice of colours.

See more at