Specialist ID Blog

Blank PVC ID Card Stock: A guide to understanding blank PVC cards

Understanding PVC Cards for ID Card PrintersBlank PVC ID Card Stock
A must read guide to understanding blank PVC Cards

All standard ID card printers print on blank PVC Card stock. These cards can be 100% PVC or a composite of PVC and other materials, depending on the application. The most common variables are:

  1. Size
  2. Color
  3. Magnetic Stripe
  4. Material

Size - CR-80 is the most common sized ID card and is the same size as a standard credit card or drivers license. Some ID card printers can print on larger CR90 or even CR100 cards, however, these are relatively uncommon.  The thickness of a standard card is 30mil (30 thousandths of an inch). The most common alternate sizes are 20mil and 10-14mil (business card thin).

Color – PVC Cards can be ordered in many different colors, the standard color being white. When ID card printers print on white, the clear color panels blend with the white background from the white card to create colors. Printing on a card any color but white, will alter the color of the printing on the actual card. Just like trying to color on a black piece of paper with crayons, printing on a black PVC card will render the printing almost invisible. When coloring on black paper you have to use special pens, and when printing on black card stock you must use special ribbons. The “monochrome” printer ribbons can print on colored cards and still look great. For example, printing on a black or red card with a silver or white monochrome ribbon yields great results. As does printing on a white or orange card with a black monochrome ribbon.

Magnetic Stripes - The next option is a magnetic stripe. Everyone is familiar with these on the back of credit cards and airline tickets. There are two main categories of magnetic stripes. HiCo (High Coercivity) and LoCo (Low Coercivity). Coercivity is the strength of a magnetic field. A dark black strip is HiCo (as on most credit cards) and a coffee color brown is LoCo (as seen on airline tickets). For an application where the magnetic strip will be used over a long period of time HiCo is ideal, whereas a disposable application can use a LoCo without any issues. It is harder to erase a HiCo magnetic strip accidentally than a LoCo. Magnetic Strips can also vary in width. Half (.500) inch are standard on most ID’s while it is very common to find a thinner.330” strip on most credit cards.

Material - PVC Cards can be 100% PVC or composite cards. For standard card printing applications, 100% PVC cards are fine. However, if an ID will be laminated, a composite card is required. This is due to the high heat used when laminating the ID card during the printing process. (Laminated PVC cards only have a laminate film over the top, such as the hologram panel found on your drivers license. The entire card is not laminated in a pouch like the older style ID cards). These “composite” cards are a Polyester (“PET”)/PVC blend. Typically 60% PVC, 40% Polyester.

Our Part Numbers – We create our part numbers based on the above mentioned options. For example:
A CR80, 30 mil PVC card, blank white with no mag stripe would be:
8030WHITE (if no mag stripe is specified it will be assumed to not have a magnetic stripe)

A CR80, 20 mil PVC black pvc card with no magnetic stripe will be:
8020BLACK

A CR80, 30mil, silver card with .500” HiCo Magnetic Stripe will be:
8030SILVERHICO

A CR80, 30mil, silver card with a .330” HiCo Magnetic Stripe will be:
8030SILVERHICO.330

A CR80, 30mil, white card with a .500” LoCo Magnetic Stripe will be:
8030WHITELOCO

For ordering, please see our blank card stock online.  If you have any questions about ID card printing, please contact us online or call us at 1-800-380-6726

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