Retransfer Technology for Card Printing
How can retransfer technology deliver the optimal solution for card printing?
by Timmy Thermal
Everywhere you look these days there are smart cards – from loyalty program cards, gift cards for just about every occasion from every store and service, to security access, ID cards, and just about anything else you can think of. You can’t go into any retail store without being bombarded with them.
I’ve noticed though that over the past few years they seem to be getting fancier. What I’ve determined is that this is due to the print technology being used. This print technology is called retransfer printing. It has many benefits over the old technology of DTC (direct to card) printing.
Retransfer technology uses a process called reverse thermal transfer. It involves two steps:
- High-resolution image is printed in reverse directly onto a clear receiving layer carried by a flexible intermediate film
- The image and the entire image-receiving intermediate film are then thermally transferred (with heat and pressure) onto the card surface. This causes the layer to be thermally bonded to the card surface with the printing image underneath the clear image-receiving layer inside the card.
Key benefits of retransfer printing:
- Superior image quality
- sharper graphics and photos
- technology allows for dye optimization regardless of card material used
- allows for better identification for security and also better for product and corporate branding and imaging
- Increased flexibility
- able to use wide variety of different card materials, unlike DTC wich only allows for porous surfaces of PVC-based cards
- Improved security/tamper-resistance
- it is easy to identify any tampering or fraud made to the cards – the film is damaged when the data on the card is tampered with
- any damages made to the card not be easily repaired or covered up
- allows for additional security through use of holographic images and optical variable ink
- Reduced print head costs
- Less wear and tear and replacement costs on the print head – the print head life span is extended due to the softer transfer film panels used
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