ID cards come in all shapes, sizes, and types. So, before you invest in an ID card printer, it’s best to research. Photo ID cards, regular ID cards, security ID cards, or access control ID cards need different printers. It is because each card is unique.

For instance, access control cards contain tiny computer chips. These are suited for security purposes. On the other hand, a blank photo ID card printer will provide you with a simple-designed card that doesn’t contain a chip. These cards contain basic information about the wearer and are best for universities or business events.  

 Here’s an overview of ID card types and the printers you need for them.

Types of ID Cards

PVC Cards

Between paper and plastic, the winner is plastic, but what kind? Well, the best and most durable ID cards are made out of PVC. PVC is polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a thermoplastic polymer that is most popular for printing ID cards of all kinds.

PVC is a lot sturdier than paper, and it’s also more durable. PVC ID cards don’t bend easily, and they last you a lifetime. While paper and cardboard ID cards crease, PVC cards don’t. If used properly, PVC cards seldom need reprinting. PVC cards have smoother results; the images and fonts on PVC cards are clearer and crisper and are more professional than those on paper cards.

You can use PVC material to print event cards, university ID cards, visiting cards, etc.

Proximity Cards

Proximity cards are different from PVC cards as they have metallic antenna coils embedded in them. These coils hold the information/data of the cardholder. Proximity cards are also known as contactless cards, as you do not need to insert them anywhere; one swipe/touch is good enough to get you access to the information you need. These cards are mostly used as access control cards. These are high-security cards, and you can’t duplicate them. However, you can change the information through the system they were created on.

Preprinted Cards

Preprinted cards are cards that already have a basic design on them. All you need is to reprint them with the information you need, e.g., hotel access cards and loyalty cards.


You can add all kinds of information and even photos to these. Direct-to-card printers are ideal for pre-printed cards.

Different Printers For Different Types OF ID Cards

Once you know the type of ID cards, you will know which printer to invest in; here are some examples.

Direct-To-Card Printer

The most common type of ID card printer is a direct-to-card printer. They are ideal for printing simple card designs, like event ID cards and visiting cards. However, they aren’t good for access control cards or smart cards.

Retransfer Printers

These are great for access control cards.


They offer ultra-high-definition image quality, are perfect for durability and are known for their print quality.

Inkjet Printers

Finally, inkjet printers use snap-in cartridges, and they offer the best results possible. The inkjet models have strong print speeds and offer over-the-edge printing in the most user-friendly manner. They are ideal for printing all kinds of ID cards.