Best ID Card Printers for 2021

We review what’s on the market and which plastic card printer is right for your needs and pocket

The world of ID Card printers can be a confusing one. With so many manufacturers and models available, it can be difficult to decide which plastic card printer is right for you.

We take a look at the best ID Card Printers available in 2021 and break them down into different categories. We’ll look at what they’re good at, who they’re ideal for and what you can expect for your money.

This review concentrates mainly on Direct-to-Card Printers which are most popular due to their lower price point.

Best for First-Time or Low Volume Users (up to 1000 cards a year)

If you’re printing ID Cards for the first time, you want something uncomplicated, easy to set up and use. You also don’t want to be spending a lot of money if you’re not printing large volumes of cards.

We recommend three of the best ID Card Printers based on ease of use, capabilities and price point.

These printers are ideal for printing between 500 – 1,000 ID Cards or plastic cards a year.

1. The Magicard Pronto100, Best in Class RRP £629+ VAT

Pronto100 ID Card Printer
The Pronto100 is Magicard’s newest printer in the entry-level category

The Magicard Pronto100 is Magicard’s new and improved version of the well-known Pronto, an ID Card Printer that’s been around for many years.

It’s taken everything that was good about the original Pronto (small in size, fast and easy-to-use) and built on it with a load of new features that makes it a serious contender for best ID Card printer in this category.

This new model has been designed to be easily portable and is ideal for the home worker as it’s small (around the same size as an A4 piece of paper), light (2.9kg) and quiet.

It gives a good quality of print and comes with an automatic hopper, meaning you can stack up to 50 cards for automatic print.

  • Prints single-sided cards only
  • Prints a colour card in 23 seconds, a mono card in 7 seconds
  • USB and Ethernet connection
  • Automatic card feed & output hopper (50 cards)
  • Digital Shredding – meaning the data transferred from your device to the printer is rendered irrecoverable
  • Magicard’s ‘holokote’ design feature is built-in. This allows you to print a watermark on top of your ID cards for added security
  • 3-Year Warranty.

Magicard is a very well-respected brand in the ID Card Printer market. They are the only card printers to be Made in Britain.

Upsides to the Magicard Pronto: The quality of print is the best of all entry-level machines in our opinion. It also comes with Ethernet connectivity which isn’t found in any other printer at this level. Magicard printers are extremely reliable, but there’s UK-based support if you should need it. For the environmentally conscious it’s made from 75% recycled material.

Downsides to the Magicard Pronto100: There aren’t many. You can’t print double-sided. Although bear in mind that this price is for the printer only, so you’ll also need to buy a ribbon, cards and software to go with it, which pushes the price up.

How does the new Pronto100 differ from the original Pronto?

See more of the Magicard Pronto100

2. The Badgy200 – Complete Card Solution, RRP £699 + VAT

Badgy ID Card Printing Bundle
The Badgy is an all-in-one badging solution

The Badgy200 is Evolis’ ‘starter printer in a box’ solution. It’s a compact printer, smaller than a piece of A4 paper and just 1.7kg, so is very portable – ideal if you’re badging at an event or conference.

Evolis are another long-established manufacturer in the market (based in France) and have invested a great deal in the branding and marketing of this model.

Badgy features:

  • Prints single-sided cards only
  • Prints a colour card in 38 seconds
  • Includes 100 print ribbon, 100 blank cards and card design software
  • Windows and MAC compatible
  • Good quality print

Upsides to the Badgy200: It comes with everything you need to get started right away, no need to purchase anything in addition. It’s easy to set up right out of the box, and there are lots of free card design templates available within the software library. There are also lots of user guides and how-to videos available at badgy.com

Downsides to the Badgy100: It’s more expensive than some of the other models available, which is a deal breaker for some and only comes with a 1-year warranty. Also, it isn’t scalable – encoding options are not available.

See more of the Badgy200

3. IDP Smart 31, From RRP £599+ VAT

ID Card Printer Smart 31

The Smart 31 replaced the Smart 30 a few years ago and its sleek design makes it one of the more attractive ID card printers to look at.

It includes the ‘SmartMark’ – a watermark feature that is printed as an overlay on the top of your ID cards. It can also print an image in UV ink onto the card which is only visible under UV light for extra security and to lower the risk of cloned cards. IDP Smart is a Korean brand.

USB connection comes as standard, but you can also upgrade to Ethernet connectivity. Unlike the Pronto100 and the Badgy200, it’s available as a double-sided printer, though you’ll pay around £150+ more for this model.

  • Print single or double sided cards (the double sided model is required for this)
  • Automatic card feed – holds 80 blank cards in its input hopper and collects up to 25 cards in the output hopper
  • Prints a full colour card in under 30 seconds
  • Options to upgrade to Magstripe or Smart Card Encoding.

Upsides to the Smart 31: A 5-year warranty. IDP Smart is the only manufacturer to offer 5 years as standard, which demonstrates their faith in the product. Magnetic stripe encoding and smart card encoding are also available as bolt-ons, so the printer can grow with your card needs.

Downsides to the Smart 31: Like the Magicard Pronto100, the Smart 31 doesn’t come with ribbon, cards or software, so these will need to be purchased separately, pushing up the price point.

Best ID Card Printers for medium volumes – up to 10,000 cards a year

If you need your ID Card Printer to be capable of handling larger volumes of cards and printing at a faster rate, you’ll want to step up to the next level.

We look at two printers that fit into this category:

1. Magicard 300, RRP £699+ VAT

Magicard 300 Card Printer
The Magicard 300 is a significant step up in terms of performance

The Magicard 300 is the next model up from the Pronto. It’s bigger, faster and more capable. You get a lot of printer for a very reasonable price tag. It’s ideal for schools, colleges and organisations that need to print batches of hundreds of cards at once.

It’s also scalable, allowing you to add encoding options on at a later date if you need to.

Magicard 300 features:

  • Prints up to 180 single sided colour cards per hour  
  • Good quality print
  • Allows you to print custom HoloKotes on your cards – these are watermarks that you print on top of your cards, and could be your logo or corporate graphics
  • Includes Digital Shredding – once the personal data has been used, it is fragmented and rendered irrecoverable, helping you to meet your GDPR responsibilities
  • 3-year warranty.

Upsides to the Magicard 300: At the time of writing Magicard are running a promotion that gives you a double-sided printer (normally £150 extra) for the same price as single-sided. Manufactured in the UK, with UK-based support. 3-year warranty.

Downsides to the Magicard 300: You’ll still need to purchase a ribbon, cards and card design software to go with the printer.

See more of the Magicard 300.

Javelin DNA Pro, around £750+ VAT

The Javelin DNA range has a range of upgrade options

Javelin is a name that’s been around in the ID Card Printer industry for a long time. Their DNA range is their next generation of card printers and the DNA Pro fits into this category nicely, thanks to how effortlessly it produces volumes of high quality cards.

It is also very scalable, allowing you to add extra features like encoding or WiFi according to your needs. It includes ethernet connectivity as standard well as USB.

  • Prints up to 200 colour cards per hour or 800 mono cards, making it ideal for batch printing
  • Has an LCD display for ease of use
  • Includes a ribbon, software and cleaning kit – all you need to buy is the cards
  • Range of upgrades available including Wi-Fi, security locks, additional hopper and contact and contactless smart card encoding modules
  • 30 month warranty.

Upsides to the Javelin DNA: The speed and quality of print, and the ease of diagnostics from the LCD display.

Downsides to the Javelin DNA: The lack of security features. Most other printers at this level provide watermark or UV security features for added card security. That said, if you don’t need these features, it doesn’t matter.

Search Javelin DNA Printers

Best ID Card Printers for Quality of Print

If branding and high-resolution print are the most important criteria for you, these printers pack quite a punch when it comes to print quality.

HID Fargo INK1000, RRP £950+ VAT

HID Fargo INK1000 Card Printer
The INK1000 Printer delivers a quality of print usually only found in more expensive retransfer printers

It’s not often an ID Card Printer comes into the industry and shakes things up a bit, but the HID Fargo INK1000 has done just that.

The Fargo INK1000 is the only ID Card Printer on the market to print using ink rather than ribbon panels, in exactly the same way your inkjet desktop printer does at home. As such, it’s incredibly easy to set up and use, with no fiddly ribbons to change.

It’s targeted at users printing up to 5000 cards per year.

The other reason it stands out is the Quality of print and the low print cost-per-card.

Direct-to-card printers always leave a slight white edge around the card as they’re unable to print over-the-edge (you need a retransfer printer for that). This is minimised with the INK1000 and you get a truly sharp print finish on images and text, as it prints at 600 x 1200 dpi resolution.

So basically, with this printer you get a print finish normally only found on a retransfer printer – at half the price.

Upsides to the HID Ink: The quality of the print, the ease of use and the lower cost per card. Because it uses ink rather than ribbon panels, it goes further. It provides true edge-to-edge printing, which you normally only get from a much more expensive retransfer ID card printer.

Downsides to the HID Ink: There are cheaper printers out there that are capable of printing more than 5,000 cards a year, but they don’t come with the advantages above. Not knowing exactly how many prints you have left in the ink cartridge could be irritating, given it depends on the saturation of colour you’re printing on each card.

Why the Fargo INK100 should be on your shortlist

See more of the Fargo INK100 Printer

Magicard 600, RRP £995+VAT

This high performer can easily handle over 10,000 cards a year

The Magicard 600 sits at the top of Magicard’s Direct-to-card printer tree. So named because it prints at 600 x 300 dpi resolution, resulting in high quality cards with vibrant, rich images and sharp text.

It’s also a workhorse. This high performer is designed to handle large volumes of cards on a regular basis with ease – over 10,000 cards a year. It’s reliable, fast and comes with Magicard’s UK-based support.

Features include:

  • Fast printing in large batches – 190 colour cards per hr (18 secs per card)
  • WiFi connectivity as standard (with USB and Ethernet)
  • Digital Shredding – meaning the data transferred from your device to the printer is rendered irrecoverable
  • Magicard’s ‘HoloKote’ watermark security feature is built-in. You can also create a custom HoloKote, to print your own design as a watermark on your cards

Upsides to the Magicard 600: This is reliability and performance in a box. And in the unlikely event that it does let you down, the warranty includes a free loan replacement printer while yours is being fixed. Encoding options are also available.

Downsides to the Magicard 600: If you’re printing significant volumes of cards, it’s hard to think of any.

Learn more about the Magicard 600.

Best for High Volume, High Performance (10,000+ cards a year)

Evolis Primacy, RRP £949+VAT

Reliable, very fast printing and capable of more than 30,000 cards a year

The Evolis Primacy is a tried and tested printing solution that’s been around for years. It’s fast, powerful and reliable, and is capable of printing more than 30,000 cards per year.

  • Very fast printing – up to 225 single-sided colour cards per hour, 140 double-sided colour cards
  • High capacity card feeder & output hopper – good for batch printing
  • Good quality print – 300 dpi resolution
  • Colour Touch Screen for ease of use
  • 3-year warranty.

Evolis run a Trade-In, Trade-Up Promotion on the Zenius and Primacy, giving you money off a new model if you trade in your old card printer.

Upsides to the Evolis Primacy: This is one of the fastest printers there is, ideal for large print runs. The Primacy is also scalable on-site – meaning you can upgrade to double-sided print without sending the printer back to the manufacturer, and you can add card lamination or contact/contactless encoders.

Downsides to the Evolis Primacy: The resolution of print isn’t as high as other such as the Magicard 600, being 300 dpi. Also, it doesn’t have some of the features that newer models can boast, such as digital shredding or watermarks.

Search Evolis printers.

Magicard 600, RRP £995+VAT

The Magicard 600 sits at the top of Magicard’s Direct-to-card printer tree. So named because it prints at 600 x 300 dpi resolution, resulting in high quality cards with vibrant, rich images and sharp text.

It’s also a workhorse. This high performer is designed to handle large volumes of cards on a regular basis with ease – over 10,000 cards a year. It’s reliable, fast and comes with Magicard’s UK-based support. Available as a single-sided or double-sided printer.

Features include:

  • Fast printing in large batches – 190 colour cards per hr (18 secs per card)
  • WiFi connectivity as standard (with USB and Ethernet)
  • Digital Shredding – meaning the data transferred from your device to the printer is rendered irrecoverable
  • Magicard’s ‘HoloKote’ watermark security feature is built-in. You can also create a custom HoloKote, to print your own design as a watermark on your cards

Upsides to the Magicard 600: This is reliability and performance in a box. And in the unlikely event that it does let you down, the warranty includes a free loan replacement printer while yours is being fixed. There are plenty of security features and encoding options are also available.

Downsides to the Magicard 600: Hard to think of any – other than grey may not be to everyone’s taste.

Learn more about the Magicard 600

Best Future-Proofed Printer Range

The Entrust Sigma DS Range, starting from around £865+ VAT

One of the most secure printers on the market. The ability to issue mobile flash passes & credentials is on its way

Smart & Future Ready

Entrust is a name synonymous with data security. Their new Sigma DS range is simply one of the most secure card issuance printing solutions on the market. It’s a next-generation printer, built to adapt to future needs.

The main point of difference with the Sigma is that is had been created to be cloud-ready, with the ability to offer digital ID cards – also known as mobile flashpasses – built in.

Expanding this mobile capability to also include access control and NFC/RFID smart cards is also on the roadmap, which is why this is a forward-thinking printer that can truly adapt to access and identification needs in the future.

This Sigma DS2 card printer is ideal if you’re printing medium-high volumes of single-sided colour plastic cards. If security is high up on your agenda, these printers are built to protect your cards and your data at every step of the process.  

300 dpi print resolution – giving rich colour and sharp print quality
Secure boot up, data encryption and watermark security features
– USB & Ethernet Connectivity  
– Magstripe & Smart Encoding options available
– The ambient variable LED light ring can be changed to your corporate colours
– 3 Year Warranty.

Upsides to the Entrust Sigma: This is a truly future-ready printer range, and the only one to currently offer the capability of Mobile Digital Flash passes, with plans to offer digital access control cards in the near future. If you see your organisation moving towards digital security credentials in the future, this printer has it built in. It’s a forward-thinking printer and a good investment for the future.

Downsides to the Entrust Sigma: The card print resolution isn’t quite as good as others in a similar price range and the price tag may put some off.

Still not sure which is the best ID Card Printer for you?

Get in touch with one of our friendly team of experts, we’ll be happy to advise you.

Call 01244 526009 or email sales@thecardnetwork.co.uk