Direct-to-card printing technology

DTC Printing.jpg

With a direct-to-card card printer, the print head is in direct contact with the card surface during the printing process. Printing technology combines two thermal methods, dye sublimation and thermal transfer, commonly known as D2T2 (Dye Diffusion, Thermal Transfer). Typically, the yellow (Y), magenta (M), and cyan (C) color tables use color sublimation technology to provide a photo quality print result with continuous tones (no dots) while the black field is being printed with heat transfer and is usually used for text and barcodes are used to achieve strong, crisp black printing.

How it works?

If you are using a single printhead printer, the card will make multiple passes under the printhead, usually as many as the segments of the ribbon.

Let's take the example of the most commonly used ribbon, YMCKO, where each letter represents a panel:

Y: yellow (dye sublimation)
M: magenta (sublimation)
C: cyan (dye sublimation)
K: black (heat transfer)
O: overlay





















The printhead is lowered at the beginning of the yellow field and printing starts.

Images and text are printed directly on the surface of the card by heat. The dyes sublime and get into the PVC pores, where they are mixed to achieve a photo-quality finish. The black resin is used after the color images that are normally used for personalization (variable data) and other special graphic elements (fixed logos, barcodes, etc.). Finally, the overlay panel protects the printed surface of the card for improved durability.

What are the main features of a direct card printer?


  • Direct-to-card printers usually use print heads with a resolution of 300 dpi

  • Direct-to-card printers offer faster printing speed and lower cost per card than retransfer printing (since no retransfer film is required).

  • As a result, direct card printers offer lower costs per printed card

  • Direct-to-card printers also offer a variety of monochrome tapes for special applications (black, white, red, green, blue, silver and gold - metallic -, scratch-off, etc.).

  • The print area is the entire surface of the card, commonly referred to as "edge to edge". However, a very thin white border appears around the map. The MC310 offers the best edge-to-edge printing in the card industry.

  • Direct-to-card printers are usually cheaper than retransfer printers, which are more complex due to the simultaneous management of two consumables.

  • Direct-to-card printers are designed for printing on normal PVC cards.


When should I buy a direct card printer?


  • Direct-to-card printers are ideal for companies with a lower investment budget or lower cost per card

  • The card has a short lifespan of 2-4 years at most

  • Ideal for users who need less monthly printing, e.g. B. Gift / customer cards, temporary ID cards / visitor ID cards or contractor ID cards

  • Limited or no chips / antennas embedded in the cards (embedded elements in the card body can cause the card to have uneven surfaces that can damage the printhead that is in direct contact with the card surface.)