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There are many different reasons to create your own plastic cards. Some of the most popular uses include gift cards, ID cards, membership cards, VIP cards, loyalty cards, and business cards.

Whether you are printing on plastic because you want a high-end look for your business cards, or you need a gift card with a functioning magnetic stripe or barcode, you should first decide if you have the equipment needed to print them yourself or if you should order PVC cards from a vendor.

Printing Features For Plastic Materials

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The first thing you need to remember is that plastic has many advantages over other materials. Still, there are some characteristics you need to bear in mind to achieve perfect printing. The quality, resistance, versatility, and efficiency of plastic and the fact it is easy to process make it ideal for packaging many products. However, it is also important to remember that it does not absorb fluids and easily attracts static electricity, and special inks are required for certain types of plastic.

How To Print On Blank Plastic Cards?

Unlike paper card stock, plastic can’t be run through a regular inkjet or laser printer. If you plan to print plastic cards at your home or office, make sure you use a printer designed specifically for plastic. Otherwise, your equipment will likely be damaged. Find here and know more about the cards. Magicard printers can help to print faster.

Selecting The Right Card Printer

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The most popular type for non-commercial use is a thermal ID card printer. They are most popular for printing ID cards but can print just about any type of design you’d like onto blank PVC cards.

The cost for the machine itself typically ranges from $1,500 – to $5,000+, which often does not include the necessary software.

As with any printer, it is important first to determine your needs. There are a lot of features to consider. Some are single-sided, while others can print double-sided cards. Do you require a magnetic stripe encoder? Is speed important? Are you printing a single card or many at a time?

How Much Does It Cost To Print Your Plastic Cards?

The actual cost is more than just the price of the machine. Don’t forget to factor in ribbons and cards. Rather than using inks or toners, ID card printers use thermal ribbons. These are available in black and color. Some manufacturers also offer fancier ribbons like gold foil or specific colors like red or blue.

Black ribbon is not very expensive and averages $0.01 – $0.02 per card side. Color ribbon can get very pricey, averaging $0.28 – $0.40 per card side, depending on the brand.

This means that the ink/ribbon cost alone for a single plastic card printed with color on both sides is $0.56 – $0.80 per card. The ink costs for a card printed with color on the front and black ink on the back are $0.29 – $0.42 per card.

Don’t Forget The Plastic Cards

When calculating the cost to determine if it makes sense to print your PVC cards yourself or outsource printing to an online printing company, don’t forget the blank plastic cards. Pricing on these can vary depending on the quantity, color, and finish selected.

The standard configuration on blank PVC cards is similar to a credit card in size and thickness. They measure 3.375″ x 2.125″ (CR-80) in size and are 30 mils thick. The standard finish is gloss, with satin and matte available in most colors.

The cheapest blank plastic cards are white with a gloss finish. They are priced at only $0.04 – $0.05 each in quantities of 1,000 – 5,000. Make it a magnetic stripe card for another penny or so.

Cards are also available in a variety of colors. Standard blank card colors include light blue, medium blue, dark blue, hospital blue, cranberry, medium green, dark green, grey, orange, pink, red, tan, and yellow. They are priced at $0.06 – $0.07 each in quantities of 1,000 – 5,000 with a gloss finish. Make it a LoCo or HiCo magnetic stripe card for another penny or so.

If you are looking for something with an upscale look, try black or metallic plastic cards. The metallic cards are available in red gold, green gold, silver, and copper. They are priced at $0.07 – $0.08 each through our website in quantities of 1,000 – 5,000 with a gloss finish. Order a magnetic stripe card for roughly a penny more.

Looking for something super bright? Try fluorescent plastic cards in fluorescent yellow, pink, green, orange, blue, and red. These are priced a bit higher at $0.125 – $0.14 each in quantities of 1,000 – 5,000 with a gloss finish. A LoCo or HiCo magnetic stripe can be added for a bit more.

Conclusion

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If you’ve priced out the cost of a thermal ID card printer, along with the necessary software and ribbons, and determined that you’d like to print your own ID cards, gift cards, membership cards, or plastic business cards, that’s great!

Select from the largest selection of blank plastic cards, including a wide range of colors and magnetic stripe options.

If you are curious to see if ordering printed cards make more sense, get instant pricing on printed cards for gift cards, ID cards, membership cards, and business cards.

A third option to consider is ordering printed card shells for any portions of the card in color or remaining constant from card to card.

For example, if you ordered membership cards, your design would contain the logo, background color, and everything but the member’s name and number. You could then run the card shells through your thermal printer to personalize them on-demand. Adding the member name and number in black ink will be a more cost-effective solution than printing the entire thing in color yourself.