The new HID Fargo INK1000 Inkjet Card Printer is being hailed as a game changer in the industry. We look at what makes it different and whether it lives up to the hype
It’s not often an ID Card Printer comes into the industry and shakes things up a bit, but the HID Fargo INK has done just that.
Fundamentally, the difference is this: the HID Fargo INK1000 uses ink cartridges rather than ribbons, which brings a number of benefits in terms of ease-of-use, sustainability, print quality and cost-savings.
First things first – the way most ID Card Printers work
The majority of ID Card Printers (unless you’re prepared to spend £2K+ and are printing high volumes of cards) are what are known as Direct-to-Card printers.
This means that ink is deposited directly onto the plastic card itself, through a printer ribbon in the printer. The ribbon passes between the two spools in the printer and prints the card design onto the card when it comes into contact with the thermal printhead – a process known as dye sublimation.
Each ribbon holds a certain number of panels – the most common ribbon is made up of 5 panels – Y (Yellow), M (Magenta), C (Cyan), K (Black) and O (Overlay – a clear thin panel), and has a total number of prints, e.g. 100.
Every time you print a single card, the printer will use all 5 panels to create the design. So even if your design is all yellow with black text, the other panels will still be ‘used’ – or in this case, wasted.
Because the Fargo INK1000 uses an ink cartridge, this problem is negated – meaning you can expect to get a lot more prints out of one cartridge, resulting in a lower per-card run-on cost. We talk more about this later.
Fargo INK1000, Benefit no, 1 – Ease of Use
If you’re new to the world of plastic card printing, it can be a bit daunting learning how to set up an ID Card Printer and install the ribbons. The Fargo INK1000 has the easiest set-up there is – you simply snap in the ink cartridge like you do with your deskjet printer at home and you’re good to go.
It’s one of the reasons we recommend it to first-time users. There are no fiddly ribbons to change and no cleaning rollers to run through each time.
Benefit no, 2 – Superior Print Quality
Direct-to-card ID Card printers talk about ‘edge-to-edge’ printing which means that a thin white border is always left around your card, as these printers are unable to print fully over the edge. To get that quality of print, you would usually have to look at a Retransfer printer, where the price point starts at around £2K.
Because of the way it has been manufactured, the Fargo INK1000 allows you to print right to the edge, leaving no white border.
It also prints at a much higher resolution than other printers in its category, at 600 dpi x 1200 dpi. Most other printers are 300 dpi, some printers in the higher print category reach 600 dpi.
So if the print quality of your finished cards is extremely important to you (say if you are printing cards for prestige members), you will not find better in this price range.
Benefit no, 3 – Sustainability and meeting your GDPR responsibilities
Because you aren’t using print ribbons and aren’t having to change them regularly, there is less waste produced.
Also, nothing needs to be securely shredded. ID card printer ribbons leave behind an imprint of the photograph and data used when a card is printed, so must be securely shredded and disposed of.
Using an ink cartridge with the Fargo INK1000, you don’t have that problem.
Benefit no, 4 – Lower cost-per-card run rate
As we covered above, there can be a considerable amount of waste when using ribbons as you won’t always use all the colour panels. An ink cartridge has the potential to produce hundreds more cards than would be possible with print ribbons.
We say ‘potential’ because this really does depend on the complexity of your design. If you have lots of white space on your ID cards, then the cartridge will obviously last a lot longer than if you are printing a card with a full saturation of colour.
But it’s certainly fair to say that the total cost of ownership of this printer will be lower. Although more expensive to buy than some other models, you will get a better return on your investment in the long term.
Of course it does all the other things well too
As you’d expect from HID Global and Fargo, this is a reliable printer from an extremely long-established brand. All backed up by a 3-year warranty for peace of mind.
It has an optional encoder, if you’re looking to print cards for your time & attendance module, or to offer cashless vending for example.
Our final thoughts
In terms of ease-of-use, there’s no question that this printer stands apart from all the others on the market. The quality of the print is equally impressive – there’s no other printer in this price bracket that can offer such high resolution and coverage of print that goes all the way to the edges.
Whilst it might be more expensive than other ID card printers in the low-medium print run category, you’ll soon get a return on investment in lower print-per-card costs.
The HID INK1000 is currently available at an introductory offer of £750 until end of March 2021 (Usually £950).