HDP printer basics (the what)
A reverse transfer printer, or HDP printer, is a printer that applies a ribbon’s dyes not to the card itself, but to the underside of a clear transfer film. Using pressure and heat that is applied to the ID card’s surface, the film is then laminated.
Beneficial reasons for using an HDP printer for printing ID cards
This process is especially good for the protection of an ID card because not only is the image and information laminated, they are also protected by the original plastic film on which they were initially printed.
They also produce excellent quality ID cards, and because of the reverse transfer technology, they often produce better results than direct-to-card printers.
Advantages to using an HDP printer for printing ID cards
There are numerous advantages to using an HDP printer to create ID cards. The colors can be sharper and brighter that direct-to-card printers and images may come out clearer. Also, text is super defined and sharp, making it ideal for small print.
The reason it often produces sharper colors and printed text is because the surface of the transfer film is always free of debris and the reverse transfer technology adheres to a more precise way of laying colors over each other.
Disadvantages to using an HDP printer for ID cards
An HDP printer can be more expensive, but if you can fit it into your budget, it is an excellent investment. One of the only drawbacks to the HDP printer is that the heat used in the HDP printer’s reverse transfer process can often warp plain PVC cards; thus you should always use composite, or mixed, card stock.
ID card materials that work best with HDP printers
The use of HDP technology is ideal for ID cards like proximity cards, thick clamshell cards, or even smart cards. Once again, keep in mind that composite card stock is also better than PVC, as a regular PVC card does have a tendency to warp.
Ribbons for HDP printers
Because of its unique technology, an HDP printer needs a couple different types of ribbons that are used together. The color ribbon for an HDP printer is usually a YMCK or a YMCKK ribbon. The YMCK applies full color on one or both sides; the YMCKK applies full color on the front, and black resin on the back.
As long as you stick to the recommended materials, your HDP printer should work well with both of these ribbons.