By Ellen Arndt, AlphaCard
If your company or organization requires small volumes of dual-sided ID badges, then you might want to consider a single-sided card printer. There are two basic ways to print on both sides of the card without the use of a dual-sided printer.
Manually flip the card
If you don’t need to create ID badges quickly or in large sets, you can use a single-sided printer with a hand-feeder to print both sides. These printers come with a built-in slot to manually insert your ID cards. Some printers come with hand-feeders, some don’t.
The downside of hand-feeders is their inability to print large batches of cards. The manual task of inserting each card can be a time consuming process, especially if you have dozens or hundreds of cards to print. When you factor in the time it takes to print the first side of the card, switch ID templates, and then print it a second time, you’ve just spent three to four minutes printing one card.
Many companies fail to realize how time consuming this can be. It is, however, a short-term money saver for companies on a strict budget. Only companies with extremely low volume printing jobs should consider this option.
Batch card printing or pre-printing
Batch printing is a convenient option for printing dual-sided cards as hundreds of cards can be printed at once with printer models containing card hoppers. Multiple cards are placed into the card hopper to print one side of the card.
This process is then repeated to produce the other side of the badge. The good news is card hoppers are available on most ID card printers and software today. This method of printing is ideal for cards that have a design with static data on one side — a company logo, address, or other information — and custom information on the other, such as employee name, bar code, or student data.
In comparison to manually flipping the card, batch printing is not as time consuming and does not require a person nearby to insert a card every few minutes. Schools will often employ batch printing to print the static side in one pass. Facilities can also save money by using an inexpensive black ribbon to print the static side of the design, and then switch to a color-only ribbon to add cardholder information on the reverse side.
Be sure to have a clear plan for your ID cards before buying an ID card printer, including what cardholder information and design elements you want to include. These factors will have a direct impact on whether or not a dual-sided printer is best suited to your application.
If both sides of your ID cards change in the future, a dual-sided printer is your best bet. Some printer models offer the best of both options, and give you the ability to upgrade with a duplex module.
High-volume printing jobs are always better served with a dual-sided printer. An ID card expert can help you determine which option is best for your lD badge needs and budget.