Stand Alone ID Card Laminators

By: Daisy McCarty

Companies often use an existing desktop printer to create photo IDs on heavy card stock. Lamination is an excellent way to improve the appearance and longevity of these badges. To make this work, you will need a few supplies to go along with your laminator:

1. Basic ID creation software. This type of program can be linked to your HR files for easy information transfer. It can also be used to make visitor passes.

2. A digital camera for taking headshots. A tripod and backdrop are also nice to have.

3. A hole or slot punch. This will enable you to attach badge clips and/or lanyards to your IDs. Use thick lamination pouches (10 mil or higher) to create credentials that are sturdy enough to handle hole punching.

Optional: If you are using full sheets to laminate multiple badges at one time, you will need a corner rounder. This trimming device clips the sharp corners off of each card and gives them a uniform appearance. If you are using individual badge pouches, you won't need this item.

Popular Laminators

These 2 models are good examples of entry level and high end laminators respectively. They are both "carrier free". This means you can run materials through the heated rollers without using a protective card stock carrier. These machines come with a 2 year warranty.

Model KL-10A

This is a compact small business or home office unit designed for low volume use. It features temperature control and 4 rollers for even feeding. You will find it convenient for laminating everything from government documents to business cards, luggage tags, and photographs. This machine accepts materials up to 10.2" wide and up to 10 mil thick.

Model KL-12HR

This unit is designed for frequent, high volume use. It can handle documents 12" wide and up to 20 mil thick making it one of the most versatile desktop laminators on the market. Temperature adjustment, speed control, and reverse switch features come standard on this machine. These allow you to fine tune your lamination process to handle a wide variety of materials.

Plastic Card Lamination Information

You can use a laminator to enhance 10 mil plastic bar-coded cards. Use a "wrapped" rather than a bar-sealed pouch for these cards if they will be swiped through a reader. A wrapped pouch is made of a single folded piece of laminate rather than two pieces glued together. This renders the leading edge highly resistant to wear and tear. You can use a peel & stick hologram laminate (such as the one manufactured by Zebra) to add a topcoat to magnetic stripe cards if you wish. Just don't stick it on the side of the card that has the stripe on it.

Encoded cards should not be run through a traditional desktop laminator since this can cause damage to the data device. If you place a custom order for encoded cards, have these laminated by the vendor as part of their process. Don't try to do it yourself. RFID access devices contain an antenna that should not have too much pressure or heat applied to it. Smart chips must not be laminated over or the contact surface will not be available for docking. ID card printing companies use reverse thermal transfer printers specifically designed to print, encode, and protect such cards in a single pass. The Fargo HDP5000 is a good example of this type of equipment.

Note on Operation: Remember that it takes 4-5 minutes for laminators to heat up before they are ready for use. It is tempting to walk away and tend to other tasks during this prep time. However, you might forget that you turned the equipment on and come back later to find it has been running for hours unattended. This causes unnecessary wear and tear on machines that should last for many years if they are properly maintained.

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