Hotel Key Card and PVC cards – a technical overview

By: Aslam


Hotel Key cards are not a new thing to many frequent travelers. Not specially for those who travel every month, or those special ones who use the room for a few hours! New Technologies in hotel key card printing are magnetic key cards, which let visitors gain entry into hotel rooms. Key cards have become common in the lodging industry. Many other businesses and industries use security key cards to limit access to company buildings or to certain areas within company buildings. Key cards provide several benefits over traditional keys including:

Cost effectiveness:
Key card systems eliminate the need for re-keying locks when a guest or an employee has taken off with or lost a key.

Security:
In the hotel industry, security key cards are not marked with room numbers.

Limiting Access: Security key cards can be used by companies that want to prevent non-employees from entering the premises or that want to restrict admittance to specific areas.

Marketing opportunities:
Advertising key cards enable you to print information on your key cards to promote your brand or advertise services.

We will briefly discuss what type of information is embedded in the credit card type hotel room keys used throughout the industry. Although room keys differ from hotel to hotel, a key obtained from the a major hotel chain would contain following information·

Customers (your) name·
Customers partial home address·
Hotel room number·
Check in date and check out date·
Customers (your) credit card number and expiration date!

Most of this information on Hotel Key Cards is are encrypted with minimal information while printing -- the guest's name, room number and arrival and departure dates -- and encrypted in such a way that they can't be read by ordinary card readers.

Same is true for PVC card printing.The advent of new technologies have had their impact on this industry too !

Usually the most common methods used for printing are:

Dye Sublimation Printing
Dye-Sub printing prints directly onto the surface of the card by putting down layers of ink in the primary colors (Yellow, Cyan, Magenta and blacK) to create all of the colors in your design. This method leaves a very small border around the card so as to protect the print-head from damage.

Reverse Transfer Printing
Just Like Dye-Sub this method of printing uses YMCK colors but in place of printing on the card, the printing is reverse image printed on a laminated surface that is then adhered to the card. This method of printing provides edge to edge "full bleed" printing capabilities.

Lithographic Press Printing
Using a traditional printing press, sheets of PVC or High Impact Poly-Styrene (HIPS CardStyle) are printed and then the finish cards are cut from the sheet using a die cut method. This type of printing is most efficient and economical when printing 4,000 or more of the same cards.

The hotel key cards as well as PVC cards are usually printed by same firms, and a complete list of these firms is available with major search engines.

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Abid Shahzad is a seasoned hotel key card printing specialist who has done great amounts of research on PVC card printing as a study subject for his MS in multimedia design.

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