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Blank ID cards are designed to be written to by encoders and read by readers. Blank ID cards are frequently manufactured from plastics such as poly vinyl chloride (PVC) and are polished on the surfaces to allow for printing or applying a magnetic encoded strip. Blank ID cards can be used as simple identification cards, providing a name and photo and an ID number associated with an organization, or may be encoded with a magnetic strip to provide access to a restricted area by using an ID card reader.

Blank ID cards are almost always one size, the same as a standard credit card. Some vendors will sell a blank ID card that can be oriented in a landscape or portrait configuration and is prepunched to take a string or clip for employees to wear as an ID badge. ID badges may be simple photo identification, or may also be fitted with a magnetic stripe to allow access to buildings or other facilities, or to track entry of personnel. Blank ID cards used for monitoring or controlling access are typically thicker and have a higher polyester composition to withstand more swiping through ID card readers. Blank ID cards can also be used with automatic data collection systems, such as membership or customer loyalty systems used by grocery stores.

Blank ID cards are printed using special printing equipment that typically uses a template based on the size of the card to print a photo and other pertinent information about the card holder. ID card encoders can print images as well as created access cards with sophisticated embedded electronics or encoded data. An ID card encoder uses high definition printing to make smart cards or technology cards. Some blank ID cards can also be fitted with holographic laminates or films to provide another layer of protection against copying or counterfeiting. Many ID card encoders also come with software packages for designing images or creating a library of templates that contain specific data necessary for creating everything from restricted access or personnel ID badges to visitor cards.


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