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Best ID Card Printer: Top Printers for Business, College, School

Struggling to put names to faces? Check out our guide for the best ID card printers available now!
Last Updated on December 11, 2023
Best ID Card Printer

If your company or institution wants to improve security or record-keeping, then investing in an ID card system could be a valuable solution. The best ID card printers allow you to create high-quality and versatile identification cards that are long-lasting and quick to produce. For small-to-medium-sized organizations, they can be a great investment, but it can be difficult to know which is the best choice for you.

To help narrow the search, we’ve put together a few options for the best printer: depending on your particular needs, these choices should help cover ID printing on any budget or scale!

Products at a Glance

How We Picked the Best ID Card Printer

When looking for the best ID card printer, we considered a few factors to compare. Most ID cards are made out of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), so at minimum our printers needed to be able to do that. Alongside typical budget and quality considerations, we also chose printers that could print quickly and double-sided for high-demand and versatility.

Our Recommended

Product Reviews

1
PROS
  • High print quality
  • Rewritable cards
  • Data is kept secured
CONS
  • Wireless connectivity not included as standard

Packed with tons of useful features, the Primacy 2 from French manufacturer Evolis is an easy cinch for the best ID card printer! With data-secure and economic features to minimize waste, this printer is great for businesses of any size to create quality identification!

Capable of printing up to 280 ID cards per hour, the Primacy 2 is great for mass-producing color PVC ID cards. One of the most distinguishing features of this printer is the ability to “rewrite” cards, erasing and reprinting information should you land that promotion, or change any other personal information. And that personal information will be kept safe, as the Primacy 2 utilizes specialist Kineclipse technology to ensure no record is kept after printing. You can purchase magnetic stripe and smart card upgrades for additional encoded data. For added durability, there’s also a lamination upgrade.

We have no major issues with the Primacy 2, other than the price point. Smaller businesses may struggle to justify the cost of this printer. Similarly, whilst printing over wired USB and Ethernet is a breeze, the WiFi connectivity is a purchasable upgrade rather than included as standard. Other than that, however, there’s a lot to like about the Primacy 2, and we think it’s the best printer for ID cards available!

2
PROS
  • High value-for-money
  • High quality of prints
  • Great starter kit
CONS
  • Slower printing speeds
  • Single-sided printing only

Going for a premium, high-volume printer may not always be the right move. Instead, an affordable yet reliable printer can better suit your needs. If that’s the case, look no further than the ID Zone 31S. Although this printer costs far less than contemporary ID printers, don’t mistake its affordability for weakness, as ID Zone have made a reliable machine with impressive print quality.

While the industry standard is 300 DPI resolution, the 31S can print up to 1200 DPI, making it one of the highest printer resolutions on this list. You also get a hundred PVC cards as standard when you buy the printer, giving it tremendous value. The build quality is also solid for the price point, a fraction of what other printers on this list cost. Lightweight with a small footprint, the 31S is an asset to small-to-medium-sized businesses or institutions. 

However, larger-scale projects may find this frustrating. Compared to the Primacy 2, this printer can only print approximately 150 cards per hour, and that’s with maximum human efficiency. Each card takes about 23 seconds to be individually printed. It’s not a huge issue, however. And for sheer value-for-money, it’s hard to beat the 31S as a budget printer for ID cards!

 

3
PROS
  • Great value for money
  • Low environmental cost
CONS
  • Slower print speeds
  • Single-sided prints only

Made from recycled material, the Evolis Zenius is already minimizing its environmental impact before you even buy it. For the environmentally-conscious organization, this ID card printer is perfect with efficient printing in a compact frame – a small footprint and a smaller carbon footprint.

The Zenius is capable of printing up to 150 cards per hour in full color, or an astonishing 500 cards per hour in monochrome. It keeps the cost-per-print low with an ink-saving design and makes very little noise while printing. Even the “Bronze” level package packs a lot of value into the purchase: coming with 200 PVC cards, printing ribbon, and even a small camera. The printer is user-friendly and truly makes itself a worthwhile purchase for the average business.

It’s not all good news with the Zenius, however. Like the Primacy 2, you are exclusively able to connect over wired connections for the default price. It also only prints single-sided cards. These small drawbacks are outweighed by the benefits, however, and we still highly recommend the Zenius as an eco-friendly ID printer for any application!

 

4
PROS
  • Wireless printing available
  • High quality and quantity
CONS
  • Expensive

If wireless printing is a dire necessity for your ID card system, then the Entrust Sigma SL2 is the best print solution. With a ton of features for both convenience and security, the SL2 combines a lot of our favorite features into a compact – if expensive – printer.

Alongside wireless printing, the SL2 also features double-sided printing and a rewrite option, along with data-protecting technology. Printing to a resolution of 300 x 1200 DPI and capable of pumping out 250 prints per hour, this printer allows for heavy-duty printing with ease. Should you run out of ribbon or PVC cards, you can conveniently re-order them through the built-in display.

Where the SL2 loses out on the crown of best ID card printer, however, is in the price. Retailing at around three times the price of the budget ID Zone 31S, this is a printer for larger-scale businesses with larger-scale budgets. Those who can afford it will find the Sigma SL2 quick and easy to use, and capable of printing out ID cards en masse to a fantastic quality.

Best printer for ID cards: Features and Considerations

Before we finish, we should discuss the most important features to look for in an ID card printer before buying:

Print Quality

The print quality on an ID card printer is measured in Dots per Inch (DPI). Tiny dots form complete text, illustrations, or photos, so the higher DPI that a printer has, the more detailed and clear the print quality. The best ID card printers have print resolutions of at least 600 DPI.

Double or Single-Sided Printing

If you want to print simple ID cards with a few lines of text, look for an inexpensive printer that prints on one side of a card. Alternatively, if you want to maximize the spatial utility of your ID cards, go for a double-sided printer.

Encoding Capabilities

Aside from the written information displayed on an ID card, you can additionally encode them with RFID signals or a magnetic strip to add hidden data in your cards. This can be done through a few encoding features. Magnetic striping is the preferred encoding method of many organizations for its convenience. Instead of having your staff manually check every ID, a card with a magnetic strip can be swiped into a reader to display information on a screen or automatically clock your employees in and out of work. With Radio Frequency Identifier (RFID) tags, more complex data can be transferred instantly with a single touch. 

Can my printer print onto ID cards?

No. It takes specialist printers to print onto PVC cards for Identification. Even multimedia printers capable of adding designs onto other materials will likely not be able to suitably print onto IDs.

Can my single-sided ID card printer print double-sided?

Yes, you can print double-sided on a single-sided printer by flipping the card and placing it into the printer for a second print. This is of course time-consuming and inefficient, so if you frequently need double-sided printing, go for a machine that does this automatically.

Our Verdict

Though it lacks premium wireless functionality, we think that the Evolis Primacy is the best printer for ID cards overall! With data-secure and high-quality printing available from the outset, this ergonomic print solution is perfect for organizations of any size to create the best ID cards for their clients, members or staff!

Looking to print a different kind of card? We have a guide out now on the best printers for greeting cards – check it out!