When you are considering acquiring a printer to generate large numbers of membership cards, be it for your gym members, school or college students, or for buyers club members, then the question of what type of ID card printer you should get. The two main possibilities are ID card laminator and a plastic ID card printer. How do they differ and which would be best for you?
In this article we will examine the following properties and decide on the pros and cons of each type of printer: quality of finished product, speed of generation, manual work required, versatility and price.
Quality of the finished ID card: plastic card printer vs ID card laminator: 1:0
There is no doubt that since a plastic ID card is made of a single resin, and there is no need for either thermal or pressure lamination, the final product will look more professional and clean. The difference could depend on the quality of the laminator. When the laminator does a good job, there are no creases or bubbles between the paper card and the plastic pouch, so the final result looks good. But there is no guarantee. Further the laminated cards will always show a clear plastic border needed to seal the plastic covers together. There are no such imperfections with a plastic ID badge.
Speed of generation: plastic badge printer vs card laminator: 2:0
Especially when aided by the blank plastic ID card feeder holding 100, 200 or more blank plastic cards, there is no doubt that the plastic ID badge printer will finish a big job much faster than the laminator. With the laminator, you need to first manually place the paper cards into plastic pouches. Then, you need to turn on the laminator, wait until it heats up. So regardless whether you have hundreds of ID cards to make, or just a single one, plastic badge printer will always be faster.
Work required in generating an ID card: plastic card printer vs ID card laminator: 3:0
As you can imagine, there is quite a bit of manual labor required when laminating. You need to print the paper cards first, place them in pouches and then laminate a single card at the time. In contrast, a plastic card printer can print a single card or a stack of cards in a single run, even without you being present. There is no manual labor involved after you have designed your cards and submitted the print job.
Versatility: plastic card printer vs laminator: 3:1
Versatility is where a laminator wins big. You can pick and choose size, thickness, and color of the laminating pouches, and correspondingly the sizes of your finished ID cards. The size of the laminated product is only limited by the width of the laminator machine, and your paper printer width. Besides small ID cards, you can laminate letter size pages such as restaurant menus, reminder pages, your affirmation pages, and make them sturdy and durable. With the plastic badge printer, you are usually highly limited to a single side ID card. The credit card size happens to be the most popular. While there are some plastic card printers that will print different size cards, they are not common. So you plastic card printer investment will only be good for the ID card printing, and printing of cards of the same size.
Price: plastic card printer vs laminator 3:2
No question about this item either. A laminator is a clear winner. You can get plastic card laminators for as little as $50 and as much as $200 depending on the features, while plastic ID card printers start at around $1,000 and go into many thousands of dollars, even over $10,000 depending on add ons. So if your budget is tight, a laminator is a clear price leader.