How to improve the security on your school’s ID cards and badges


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How secure are the ID cards and badges for your school’s students, faculty, staff, and visitors? If you’re still producing them on your laser printer and then applying lamination, you have a gaping hole in the safety and security that this system is supposed to provide.

Card printing has come a long way—both in ease of use and security features. More and more schools that used to outsource their ID card printing have reconsidered, now that those two concerns have been met with the new technology.

A school that prints its own cards with a dedicated card printer gains greater control over the information contained on those cards. In other words, your private data is more likely to stay that way.

Secondly, today’s card printing technology makes it effortless to improve the security on your school’s ID cards and badges. Here are a few ways you can achieve heightened security with a better card printing system:

  1. A card printer with a lockable enclosure and card feeder means unauthorized users can’t produce ID cards.
  2. Security images—like holograms, photos, and Guilloche patterns—imprinted on your ID cards increase the difficulty of counterfeiting the ID cards. One image makes it a challenge, and two makes it twice as hard to duplicate.
  3. By applying tamper-evident lamination—which can be automatic, depending on your card printer—it’s apparent when someone has tried to duplicate or alter an ID card or badge.
  4. Pre-printed cards can be purchased with built-in security features, like serial numbers, laser-etched micro-text, or text and graphics that are only visible under ultraviolet light.
  5. Cards that have a magnetic stripe or chip (contact or contactless) increase the security value of your cards and enable you to quickly change access codes as needed.
  6. Using a quality printer designed specifically for cards—like direct-to-card, thermal transfer, dye sublimation, or retransfer printing—provides lasting clarity that isn’t easily copied. Plus, the cards stand up to regular use and the kind of handling that students are known for: shoving the card in a backpack, pocket, or textbook.

Before you decide on your ID card printing system, learn about your options. Then decide how much security you need in order to protect the most valuable asset you have: the people in your school. Here’s a useful white paper from our partners at Zebra Technologies: “Understanding Technologies for Creating High-Security ID Cards”.

If you need more information, contact us at J. O’Brien. We specialize in ID card systems for schools, and can help you find the right solution.