When you have decided to print plastic cards for identification purposes, such as plastic ID badges, or any kind of photo ID cards, then it is important to consider the level of security your plastic card machine can provide.
Plastic card security level that you pick hinges on two deciding factors: cost and benefit. In other words, while “more security is better” does hold true if you had all the money in the world. In most other situations, you need to weigh the plastic card security level advantages versus its cost.
We will explore free ways to add security to your cards and paid ways to add to plastic id card security. We will break down paid ways into two categories, one that requires no special devices to verify, and the one where you need extra special devices to verify the security element.
Free security features of plastic ID cards
A very simple way to increase your plastic ID card security is to add small text to the card. This text should be approximately 0.5 mm high. While still possible to read from up close, it is impossible to copy with the standard copy machines, and will turn into a broken straight line if copied. This security feature can be viewed with a naked eye.
Another simple way to add to your photo ID card security is a shadow image. This is a copy of the normal photo present on the ID card, but it is a copy that is of reduced size, reduced contrast, and reduced color saturation. Again, such images are easy to print but are difficult to copy using standard color copiers which adds to the overall security.
Paid security features – visible by a naked eye
One of the best security features is an overlay hologram. This is an extra layer of plastic which includes an image that changes its shape when viewed from different angles. Because of that it is impossible to copy. The cost associated with an overlay hologram level comes from the special printer ribbon that includes such overlay layer, but otherwise do not require modifications of your plastic card maker.
Another option that you can use is the built-in hologram that is implanted on the front or the back of the card. These require special blank cards instead of a ribbon with an overlay layer.
Printing a glossy layer in the same color as the matte card color is another feature that can be very difficult to copy.
Paid security features – need special devices to verify
These are the most expensive as they typically require add-ons to the blank cards, plastic card printers, and the card readers.
Adding a magnetic stripe is the most common plastic card security feature. All credit and debit cards have it. It is also popular option for adding a secure access to the building. By swiping the plastic card with the appropriate security code, the door mechanism will unlock the doors to a secure part of the building.
Smart cards and contactless smart cards, or RFID cards are becoming a popular choice to be included in the plastic card designs. It requires a blank plastic card with the smart chip built in, a printer and the corresponding software to encode the information on the card, and the special readers, typically present at the point of service or at the security entrances.