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Smart card printing

How to print on smart cards


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inCard: ID card software

Smart card is a plastic card with an embedded microprocessor and/or memory. It can store, personal data, and bank-account details. The smart card can be used as a credit or debit bank card, a phone card, and an access card. The smart card was invented by French journalist Roland Moreno in 1974. Smart cards are widely used nowadays. They are becoming even more popular comparing to magnetic stripe cards because their chip can store much more information. Also, the contactless smart cards provide very fast transactions, and they are indispensable if it is necessary to provide an access for the big flows of people (e.g. in the transportation systems).

Smart cards can be contact or contactless.


Contact smart cards have a contact area, comprising several gold-plated contact pads, that is about 1cm square. When inserted into a reader, the chip makes contact with electrical connectors that can read information from the chip and write information back. The contact smart cards are secured better comparing to contactless smart cards. They are widely used for the bank cards.
Contactless smart cards do not have a contact chip on the card surface. These cards do not require the physical contact of the card and reader, they require only close proximity of the card and the card reader to cmplete transaction. They are often used when transactions must be processed quickly or hands-free, such as on mass transit systems, where smart cards can be used without even removing them from a wallet. The contactless smart cards are used as transport cards, identification cards, door access cards in the hotels and similar. Being the less secured comparing to contact smart cards they are not used by banks.

How to print on smart cards?

Printing on contact ISO smart cards with microprocessor chip:

When printing on the face side of the card with the chip avoid placing the visual information on the chip. Preparing ID card design make sure that your artwork is not on the chip but around it. The chip position and height are specified by ISO standard, and your artwork must be sized to proper smart card dimensions taking into account the chip position. Set up the card printer driver so that protective varnish is not placed on the chip. Please find below pictures showing how to do this for Evolis and Zebra printers. For other printers please read the corresponding documentation.
Printing on the back side of the smart card do not use very strong colors. Avoid using colors on the back of the chip. The back surface in the place of the the chip is usually not flat, and the printing quality will suffer. It is recommended to leave this place white or very light colored.

ID card software
Smart card printing


Zebra printer: Print options - Parameters tab - Front overlay vanish - Properties. Select Smartcard ISO overlay varnish type. Evolis printer: set up your driver so that protective varnish is not placed on the chip. To do this, open the driver properties in the Graphic tab : Select smart cards in the Varnish panel section.

Printing on contactless smart cards:
Creating the card design use the light colors in the place of card chip (if the colors are dark the printing defects caused by the slightly waving card surface in the place of the chip will be more visible).

Our ID card software, inCard, provides an ability to create ID card designs and print high quality contact and contactless ID smart cards.



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