SOLUTIONS to problems related to wear and tear on ID cards (four of four)

Now we have looked at the impact of wear and tear on ID cards, the reasons behind it and how to avoid it , we will complete this series by deliberating real-world solutions. We will consider: durability, print quality and protection within an over-arching context of maintaining security standards.

Nothing lasts forever, and that applies to your ID card stock AND the printer itself. You may have invested in a large quantity of cards in the belief that it would see you through a number of years. The materials used to make the blank cards will deteriorate over time and are prone to breakage. If your stock is over 2 years old, it’s worth investing in a smaller quantity of quality composite (PET) stock, especially if they will be swiped through a reader or used outside; you can base the amount you buy on past and projected consumption. And if you haven’t re-issued staff cards in the last couple of years, they will have suffered damage through the day-to-day use we’ve discussed in this series.

To be confident in protection levels, look out for internationally recognised standards such as ISO 24789 (a methodology for determining a card’s expected lifespan) and ANSI 322 (a test which defines the card’s structural integrity).

Ultimately, cards – especially if their primary purpose is for photo ID – should be replaced on a regular basis. Peoples’ appearance can change significantly over time as we’ve seen previously in our blog, “Emerging from lockdown: dealing with identity” and security requirements need to be updated (more below).

And it’s not just the cards that need to be regularly replaced; your printer does too. No warranty lasts forever, and there’s a reason for that: device performance will deteriorate through use and over time will not offer the features you require. Like a car, while it provided everything you needed when you first bought it, it starts to decline -no longer giving you the mpg of newer models; it keeps misfiring or takes a while to start; you need on-board Bluetooth and sat-nav and all the other features you didn’t know you would miss as time goes on.

Questions to ask:

Are the photos on my ID cards clear? If your ID card needs to show an image that is a true representation of the cardholder, you should consider photo-quality print capabilities

Is the card design I’m using compatible with my printer? This can be the case when you are getting low quality results. It is often seen when you are trying to print a design intended to reach to the very edge of the card but you end up with a small white border. If you’re using a direct-to-card printer (one which uses a dye sublimation process), this will happen so you need to take this into account and alter your measurements so you don’t cut off the edge of your design. If your design needs to print right to the edge (“over-the-edge” printing), you will need a printer that uses the retransfer process. This method will also provide high definition print results even on cards with uneven surfaces such as SMART cards.

Will my cards be used regularly outside? If this is the case, consider printers which offer lamination. This adds an additional overlay to protect the card from wear and fading of the image, mainly for cards which are used frequently or in outdoor environments.

What security considerations do I need to take account of? Times change, and so too do the methods fraudsters and other security threats employ. Once you have addressed print quality as discussed above, what else can you consider to make sure the ID cards you see around you are legitimate?

One of the most simple yet powerful ways is to use secure watermarks (HoloKotes®).  Without this security feature, anyone with access to any ID card printer could make a convincing copy of your card. The HoloKote is printed on to the card surface during the normal print cycle of all Magicard printers using standard ribbons and cards. Some devices allow you to customise the design so it reflects your organisation specifically. The image is frosted into the clear overcoat application and can be visually verified when the card is tilted in the light.

These can be further enhanced by using a HoloPatch® card which has a highly reflective gold ‘super diffuser’ seal. When a HoloKote watermark is printed on to the seal, the watermark becomes clearly visible under all lighting conditions. HoloKote with HoloPatch has a similar appearance to hologram seals: it provides a distance visible security mark allowing a security guard or colleague to easily verify badge authenticity from a distance of six feet or more.

For further security enhancement, you can select a printer that offers threat benchmarking whereby security scans are run against a comprehensive vulnerability assessment tool such as Nessus Pro, one of the most widely deployed security technologies in the world. Regular updates are pushed to the device, ensuring that the printer software and associated system configuration conform to the highest levels of security.

How do I protect my data? In line with GDPR and other regulations around personal information, it is essential to bear in mind that your printer can not only violate your business’ security policy but also that of international law if all elements are not appropriately managed. It is no good simply throwing away used card printer ribbon in the bin under your desk: that is a breach of security. If this is a concern for you, consider a printer equipped with digital shredding™: once data has been used for the print job, it is fragmented, rendering it irrecoverable, helping to ensure the device is not a repository for data.

Cards – and printers- don’t, and arguably, shouldn’t last forever. Wear-and-tear happens. We hope we have helped you to minimise its effects and encouraged you towards future-proofing your response to it.

For further information, contact us.

About the author

Clare Lamb
By Clare Lamb

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