What type of card printing technology should I choose?

In our daily lives, we come across many cards, such as ID cards, membership cards, and credit cards.
We use these cards to identify ourselves to public or government institutions, buy goods, or confirm cardholders using our photo, name, identification numbers, and expiration dates.

These types of plastic card printing include two different ways – one is bulk printing and the other is customized desktop card printer printing.

Among them, desktop card printers are available to issue personalized card designs immediately, are divided into two technologies: Direct-to-card printing & Retransfer card printing

Both card printing methods can immediately card issuance, however, if you look closely, each technology has its own characteristic and differences.

Since new users may not be familiar with these printing methods, this chapter will explain how the cards we use in our daily lives are printed and usher guidelines that can help you choose the right printer in the future.


 What is Direct-to-card printer? 

A Direct-to-card printing is a method of colors directly on the card surface as the meaning of “Direct".
This printing process is not very different from the paper printers we use.

Step 1
The printhead of a direct-to-card printer applies heat directly to the surface of the ribbon.
The dye contained in the ribbon is sublimated to a plastic card and printed

Step 2
The printed card is issued



 What is Retransfer card printer? 

Unlike direct-to-card printing where the card image is printed directly onto the card surface, a retransfer printer will print the image onto a retransfer film, then that image is laminated / transferred from the film to the card.
That’s why it is called a “retransfer card printer” as a structural characteristic.

Step 1
The print head heats the ribbon surface directly and transfers the dye from the ribbon to the retransfer film for printing

Step 2

The printed retransfer film is moved to the position where the card is waiting, and the retransfer head heats the retransfer film to transfer the printed area onto the card, and then the printed card is issued.

 Let’s study closely!  

There are significant differences between direct-to-card printing and retransfer printing.


Direct-to-cad printer leaves a small unprinted margin on both edges of the card (Approximately 0.5mm) in order to prevent the printhead’s surface and ribbon-cut that may occur due to interference between the edge of the card and the printhead.
However, the retransfer card will print the image onto a retransfer film, and then the image is transferred to the card surface, not directly using the printhead, so it produces a full-bleed (over-the-edge) card.


Direct-to-card printer is a dye-sublimation printing method, a plastic card should dye-receiving layer that can transfer dyes directly to the card surface.
Due to the card printer head characteristic, which is flat and has a certain level of strength, in case the plastic card surface is uneven or bent, there may be parts that cannot be printed.

On the other hand, retransfer card printer is relatively unaffected by card surface material or condition.


With direct-to-card printers, the card surface condition will affect print quality.
Depending on the card type and the smoothness of the surface, output quality may not be consistent, and color differences may occur.

On the other hand, Retransfer card will print the image onto a retransfer film, and then the image is transferred to the card surface, so they have consistent and deep color output and can provide higher print quality than the direct to card printer.


Direct-to-card printing is a simpler and faster process than retransfer card printing.


Direct-to-card printers only need a ribbon for printing.
Retransfer card printers require to retransfer film and a ribbon.


Direct-to-card printers have a simple structure compared to retransfer card printers, and the product price is relatively reasonable,
and because it does not use retransfer film, the issuing cost of each card is also more economical. 


 What type of card printing technology should I choose? 


There is no right or wrong answer.
Both card printing technologies are optimized for immediate card issuance.

If you are considering purchasing a direct-to-card printer, users can experience a variety of card printer size and shape options at an affordable price.
It also produces print quality close to a card printed by retransfer card printer.

Users need to know that due to the characteristic of the printing method, a card with a dye-receiving layer and an even surface is required. Even though there may be a little unprinted margin on both edges of the card, the direct-to-card printer is an ideal choice for creating your own card with an affordable product price, and print speed.

If you are considering purchasing a retransfer card printer, users recognize that it enables over-the-edge printing (full-bleed) with results at a level similar to offset printing quality.
In particular, the demands that meet various card designs, services, and security requirements, especially, in the financial market, are gradually increasing in companies, government offices, and large retail markets.

We recommend you choose a card printer that meets your demands and objectives based on the two different card printer technology’s pros and cons.


For more information about the SMART Card printer series,  contact your worldwide IDP sales representatives.

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Selection guide: KIOSK New Range

In the card printer industry, the demand for kiosks that are used for various applications such as membership cards, ID cards, and credit cards has increased greatly.

IDP meets these new market demands with a new range of kiosks. 

• A multi-hopper and card printer combination. 
• A multi-hopper line that allows you to use a single card dispenser or combine external devices such as a card printer or encoding module.



Compact Multihopper for Kiosk

Many customer-facing companies use self-service kiosks to help facilitate the printing of their cards quickly and easily.

In line with the growing demands of self-service kiosks, IDP has recently developed a compact multi-hopper that is designed with a new block-like structure to be less restricted by the internal space compared to the existing SMART-51K kiosk equipment and SMART-70 multi hoppers, which has a great advantage.


privacy Policy

Privacy Policy

IDP Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as the “Company”) regards the protection of personal data of customers who use card printing solution and all related services (hereinafter referred to as “Services”) as very important, and the Company complies with applicable laws and regulations such as GDPR, law on protection of personal data.

Article 1 (Items of Personal Data and Method of Collection)

Article 2 (Purpose of Collection and Use of Personal Data)

Article 3 (The Disposal of Special Categories of Personal Data)

The Company shall not collect any sensitive personal data (such as race or ethnic origin, ideology, creed, birthplace, domicile, political propensity and criminal record, health status and sex life) that may be of concern to the customers’ basic human rights violations, but inevitable when the Company must collect the data, the Company must get the customers’ prior consent.

Article 4 (Term of Retaining and Use of Personal Data)

Article 5 (Customer’s Rights and Methods to Execute Customer’s Rights)

Customer has the right, at any time, to access or rectify his/her personal data, and customer may request to erase the data. the Company shall take measures if customer contacts the data protection officer by writing, telephone or e-mail after the identity verification process. If customer requests rectification of an error in personal data, the Company will not use or provide the personal data until the rectification is completed. In addition, if wrongful personal data has already been provided to a third party, the result of rectification will be notified to the third party so that the rectification can be made. The Company treats personal data that has been erased at customer's request as described in “Term of Retaining and Use of Personal Data” and prohibits the data from being accessed or used for other purposes.

If customer exercises ‘right to object’ on data collected for marketing purposes by the Company, the Company immediately ceases processing the personal data. Notwithstanding, the Company may process personal data if the Company can demonstrate that its compelling legitimate interest overrides the interests or the fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject, or if the processing is for the determination, exercise or defense of legal claims.

Article 6 (Outsourcing of Processing of Personal Data)

Article 7 (Processing of Children’s Personal Data)

The Company does not process personal data of children under 14 (In Europe, children under16). The Company may verify the age at the time of collecting personal data.

Article 8 (Data Protection Officer)

The Company has designated customer center and a data protection officer to protect the personal data and cope with relevant complaint.

1. Republic of Korea
KISA Privacy Center privacy.kisa.or.kr / 118
Supreme Prosecutors’ Office of the Republic of Korea www.spo.go.kr / 1301
Cyber Terror Response Center cyberbureau.police.go.kr / 182
2. Other Countries
Country URL Country URL
EU www.edps.europa.eu/EDPSweb Greece www.dpa.gr
Austria www.dsb.gv.at Hungary www.naih.hu
Belgium www.privacycommission.be Italy www.garanteprivacy.it
Bulgaria www.cpdp.bg Latvia www.dvi.gov.lv
Croatia www.azop.hr Lithuania www.ada.lt
Cyprus www.dataprotection.gov.cy Luxembourg www.cnpd.lu
Czech Rep. www.uoou.cz Malta www.dataprotection.gov.mt
Denmark www.datatilsynet.dk Netherlands www.autoriteipersoonsgegeve ns.nl/nl
Estonia www.aki.ee Poland www.giodo.gov.pl
Finland www.tietosuoja.fi Portugal www.cnpd.pt
France www.cnil.fr Romania www.dataprotection.ro
Germany www.bfdi.bund.de Slovakia www.dataprotection.gov.sk
Ireland www.dataprotection.ie

Article 9 (Modification and Notification of Privacy Policy)

Additions, deletions, modifications to this privacy policy will be notified through the homepage of the websites, etc.


This privacy policy takes effect on May 1, 2020.