Looking for a comprehensive list of definitions for many of the industry terms used on our site? Check out our Glossary for more information.

Plastic cards used to gain access to a restricted location or piece of information. Access control cards usually make use of magnetic stripes and proximity chips.

Software used to design and print ID cards, gift cards, visitor badges, or any other card requiring specific images.

Contains a single embedded circuit chip that contains memory and/or a microprocessor. Contact smart cards must be inserted or swiped through a device containing pins attached to the reader, which make contact with the surface of the card to read and store information.

Sometimes called a Proximity card or “Prox” card, a Contactless Smart Card contains a chip that is connected to an antenna rather than contact pads, as used with contact smart cards. The communication between the chip and the reader is wireless, making direct contact unnecessary within a certain range of the card reader.

The process of scanning or capturing images which can then be edited, saved, and printed on a plastic card.

The process of printing digital images directly onto any plastic card with a smooth, clean surface.

Refers to the maximum printable area on a card. Printers and encoders with edge-to-edge printing capability can print to the very edge of a card, resulting in printed cards with virtually no border.

EMV stands for “Europay MasterCard Visa” and refers to a global industry standard for credit and debit payment cards based on chip card technology. Already popular in many European countries, EMV was created as a more secure means of processing credit and debit card payments and its use is rapidly becoming widespread across the United States as well.

The process of electronically “writing” information on magnetic stripes or smart card chips.

Describes fast, efficient printing processes used to produce large quantities of cards with minimal downtime for media loading or maintenance.

A unique photographic overlay that provides a three-dimensional effect on a flat surface. Holograms cannot be easily copied and are often used for security purposes on cards.

The process of combining lamination material and core material using time, heat and pressure. Laminate patches used in card printers come on rolls, with and without carriers/liners.

The LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) is a small screen that displays the current status of the printer. LCD communicates an error with text, making it easier to interpret than LED lights.

Mag stripe refers to the black or brown magnetic stripe on a card. The stripe is made of magnetic particles of resin, the type of which determines how difficult it is to encode or erase information from the stripe. Magnetic stripes are often used in logical access, time and attendance, lunch programs, library cards, and other applications.

Oversized cards are used for more efficient visual identification and are available in many nonstandard sizes.

One of many high-polymeric substances, including both natural and synthetic products, but excluding the rubbers. Plastic is capable of flowing and pressure or tensile stress, if necessary, into the desired final shape.

A strong film having good resistance to moisture, solvents, oils and many other chemicals. It is usually transparent.

Proximity cards (sometimes called “prox” cards) allow access and tracking utilizing contactless technology (usually by communicating through a built-in antenna.)

Dimension of the smallest element of an image that can be printed. Usually stated as dots-per-inch (dpi).

Radio frequency identification (RFID) is a wireless technology for communication between electronic devices. In the barcode industry, RFID tags are used in proximity label scanning, while in the card industry, it is RFID technology that enables a contactless smart card to communicate with a card reader.

Smart cards have an embedded computer circuit that contains either a memory chip or a microprocessor chip, and are often used for Contact, Contactless, and Proximity cards, among others.

An electronic device which uses heat to transfer a digitized image from a special ribbon to the flat surface of a plastic card.

The process of creating an image on a plastic card using a heated printhead.