Direct-To-Card and Retransfer Card

When looking into a new ID card printer it is easy to get confused by all the terms applied to them.  Many customers do not understand the difference between Direct-To-Card and Retransfer badge printers.

Direct-To-Card printers are the most common printers on the market.  The term direct-to-card means the print ribbon is directly adhered to the pvc card.  The main difference in this process from Retransfer printers is the ribbon does not adhere over the entire surface of the card.  When the card is printed there will always be small gap or margin between the edge of the card and where the ribbon has adhered to the card.

Retransfer printers, commonly referred to as Over-The-Edge, Reverse Transfer, or HDP (High Definition Printer), print full bleed.  This means they have the ability to print over the entire surface of the pvc card.  They can do this through their print method.  Retransfer printers adhere the ribbon to a separate film which is then adhered to the surface of the card. 

The advantages of a retransfer printer are a better looking card, lifetime warranty on the print head, and the ability to add on modules as you need them.

The disadvantages are they cost more and they print cards slower to due the extra step with the ribbon.  They also require you to use composite pvc cards because of the high heat used to apply the film.


A list of Retransfer printers by brand carries:

Or you can veiw them all at one time