Card Printing Tips & Advice

How to Stop Photo ID Cards From Fading

Fading photo ID cards can be harmful in many ways, and can do a lot more than impact just your corporate image.

Rather than constantly spending time and money reissuing fading cards, it may be worth looking at why your ID cards are fading, and how to prevent them from doing so.

In this post, you’ll learn:

  • Why your photo ID cards are fading
  • The risks of faded ID cards
  • How to prevent your photo ID cards from fading

Why Your Photo ID Cards are Fading

Environmental Factors

One of the main reasons why photo ID cards fade is due to environmental factors.

If you’re using your ID card every day, it will be exposed to several elements, especially if you’re working outdoors. Naturally, ID cards will deteriorate much faster if they frequently make contact with the wind, rain and sun.

Alongside this, if cards are used for access control purposes, they may be frequently swiped or pressed against door readers, which can cause them to fade much sooner.

Card Storage

Most employees need their ID cards with them at all times, therefore they must be kept on their person. However, this can lead to them becoming quickly damaged.

With staff usually keeping their ID cards in their pockets, they can easily be scratched by keys or left in clothes and put into the wash.

This damages cards, eventually causing them to physically deteriorate or for images to become unrecognisable.

Quality of Cards

This is the most common reason why cards fade. Of course, environmental factors and card storage contribute to long-term damage, however if the quality of the cards is sub-par to begin with, they’re bound to get damaged quickly.

Ensuring your ID cards are made from a high quality, durable material will extend their life and help them to stop fading prematurely. If cards are produced externally, you can check their quality with your ID card printing service provider.

Power Supply

If your card printer is printing out a very pale card or is reporting multiple errors when you try to print, you should check your printer’s power supply.

All ID card printers are supplied with a specific PSU (power supply unit) bespoke to the printer model. These are always rated at 24v output which is the voltage required for a card printer to function properly.

Although other IT equipment may have a similar looking PSU, it will undoubtedly have a lower power rating and will not work with your printer correctly.

These are the most common PSU’s that are shipped with card printers:

  • Evolis = Switchbox
  • HID Fargo = LHV
  • Magicard = Sunpower
  • Zebra = Zebra
  • Datacard = Cincon
  • IDP Smart = Adapter Tech
Power Supply Units

It’s vital to check your using the right PSU for your ID card printer.

Card Design/Printer Selections

If the card design you’re printing is not compatible with your ID card printer, this will cause printing issues.

For example, direct-to-card printers cannot print over-the-edge so leave a small, white border around the edge of the card. If you haven’t taken this into account and changed your measurements, then you will be cutting off the edge of your design.

It’s essential to look at the type of printer you’re using and whether it is compatible with your current card design.

This is especially important if you change your card design. Your printer selections and specifications may also need to be altered to ensure a solution that works for both your design and printer.

The risks of faded ID cards

There are various risks of faded ID cards, including:

Security Risk

If the image on the card isn’t clear, then anyone can claim it’s their card. External threats could even use a blank ID card and declare the image completely rubbed off.

Faded photo ID card

This will leave you vulnerable and potentially open to a security breach.

In larger companies, it’s impossible for security staff to remember every single employee. There is also generally no way to verify a staff ID card. This could have a detrimental effect if an external source uses a faded ID card to gain access to sensitive data or expensive equipment.

This not only calls for you to question your ID cards but also to question how staff members challenge unknown visitors with no visible ID.

Even if these visitors are regular, it is imperative to have secure visitor protocols in place along with staff having fully functional, identifiable ID cards.

Expensive to Reprint

If you are having to reprint cards again and again due to fading, costs can quickly add up, especially if these are access control cards.

Even if you only need to replace one faded card, this may also become an issue as blank plastic cards are generally sold in packs of 100, causing you to spend more.

For many companies, employees need their ID card to access the premises, so waiting for a new card to arrive also causes problems.

It’s imperative to assess the root of the issue, whether that be the cards you’re using or the printer itself. Always check all equipment as otherwise, you will only be wasting money on ID cards that won’t stand the test of time.

Poor Corporate Image

For many organisations, one of the first things a visitor sees on an employee is their ID card.

If these cards are not up-to-scratch, this shows a lack of effort and professionalism.

First impressions count, so it is vital that everything, including staff photo ID, is of a high standard. This is one reason why it’s essential to create a staff ID card policy if your organisation does not already have one.

Additionally, when staff wear their ID cards out of the office, this is a great way to market your brand to a wider audience. However, if your company logo has faded and can’t be seen then it is a wasted opportunity.

How to Prevent Photo ID Cards From Fading

Prevention is better than cure, as they say. Instead of stopping photo ID cards from fading, it’s much more effective to prevent them from fading in the first place. And here’s how:

Protect Your Cards

It’s easy to tell staff to be careful with their cards. However, we know it’s not that simple. With most people using their ID cards every day, cards can easily get scratched and exposed to the environment and other factors, regardless of how careful they try to be.

That’s why we recommend using ID card holders.

The best way to look after your cards is to protect them, and that’s exactly what ID card holders do. ID cards are slotted into holders, and holders shelter them from the environment, while still ensuring complete visibility of your ID.

Card holders also protect your cards from cracking and bending, and increase durability. This ensures your ID cards will last much longer.

With card holders being fairly inexpensive, they are the perfect low-budget way of keeping cards protected from damage.

Upgrade your cards

The reason your ID card may be fading could be due to the card itself.

When was the last time you bought new ID cards? Perhaps they’re overdue an upgrade.

If the cards you’re printing with are outdated or of poor quality, they will fade quickly. You may need to reassess the type of cards you’re using and determine whether they need updating.

In addition, upgrading to better quality cards can also help to reduce photo ID card cloning.

Change your printer

Alternatively, it may not be your cards that need updating but your printer.

Once printers become dated, it’s very common for their printing power to become decreasingly efficient. And if your printer’s are becoming inefficient, it’s likely the cards they produce will be, too.

It’s therefore important to stay current with your ID card printing and evolve alongside your printing needs.

Your ID card printer can even violate your business’ security policy if all aspects are not properly looked after. For example, incorrectly disposing of used card printer ribbon data could cause a data breach.

Let’s Recap

Faded ID cards require as much attention as cracked or broken ones – if not more. A simple change of card can massively improve the safety of your employees and organisation as a whole.

If you’re looking to upgrade your current photo ID cards to make them fade-resistant or want to reduce those mounting reissuance costs, get in touch on 0800 988 2095 for a free card analysis.

Alternatively, learn more about creating secure ID cards and find out what information should be printed on an ID card.

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