RFID cards are plastic cards that have the dimension of a standard credit card with a RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip. The chips are divided into frequency bands in which they operate: LF (Low Frequency at 125 kHZ), HF (High Frequency at 13.56 MHz), and UHF (Ultra High Frequency at 860~960 MHz). The individual chips then differ in the amount of memory, read distance, additional protection, or other functionalities.
The RFID chips we use the most are:
• 13.56 MHz chips: Mifare Classic®, NTAG, ICODE®, Desfire, Ultralight, Fudan F08...
• 125 kHz chips: EM4200, EM4102, EM4100, TK4100, T5577, EM4550, etc.
• UHF chips: Alien Higgs-3 and other.
We can combine two chips with different frequency into a single card and produce dual frequency cards.
For printing, we offer different card printing technologies:
1. When ordering 500 printed RFID cards or more we usually use offset printing technology
2. When ordering 1–500 printed RFID cards we use Thermal Retransfer printers
3. For serialization (QR codes, barcode, numbering) or personalization with names, we use special, high speed thermal printers.
Offset printing technology for cards
RFID card printing requires special equipment and is usually done by specialized printing houses. When using the offset printing technology, RFID cards are printed during a card production process. For the printing, we usually use digital printing with CMYK colors which we combine with silk screen printing when there is a need for Pantone colors or metallic effects (golden colors, silver, glitter, etc.).
The production process is the following:
The artworks of the front and back side are printed on a thin plastic layer, which has to be perfectly white and the highest quality as possible. When printing, we combine the multiple plastic layers into a sheet. The typical printed RFID card contains the following layers:
1. A clear protective layer,
2. A layer with front side artwork,
3. A layer with RFID chip and antenna,
4. A layer with back side artwork,
5. and another clear protective layer.
The quality of these layers defines the quality of the print on cards and the lifespan of the RFID chip.
The sheet with all layers is then heat-treated (laminated) so that the layers stick together and act as a whole. In the next step, we cut out the RFID cards to their final size and shape according to the ISO standard ISO/IEC 7810 ID-1. Later, we print variable data like QR codes, barcodes, serial numbers, names, etc. and at the end we do a thorough quality check.
When producing printed RFID cards, we can add the following features:
- Signature panels which allow users to write on the card surface data with pen
- A magnetic stripe for older magnetic card readers (HiCo or LoCo)
- Card punching – holes on the side of the card for lanyards or clips
- Chip encoding – writing custom data, change keys
- Security holograms and other security elements
- Custom cutting to produce cards in different shapes.
RFID cards printed with offset printing technology are very high quality and durable, but the process is quite complicated, and so the usual production time is 2–3 weeks.
Print with Thermal Retransfer Printers
When ordering small quantities of printed cards, we usually use high quality thermal retransfer printers which print CMYK colors in the stunning resolution of 600 dpi.
The advantage of thermo retransfer printer is that it prints one card at a time and allows us to print even a single card when needed. The printing speed for a color-printed RFID card on both sides is about one card per minute. The disadvantages of thermal retransfer print are high costs of ribbons and slow speed, so it makes it less cost effective for higher quantities.
Other direct-to-card printing technologies are usually not appropriate for printing the background artwork on RFID cards because the chip makes some imperfections on the card surface. These irregularities result in the print not sticking properly and it will look like it is a printing mistake.
Serialization or personalization
If our clients only need the print of variables, we use special thermal printers with monochrome ribbons (usually in black color, white, gold, or silver).
Our services include:
- Numeration or personalization form Excel table
- Printing different kind of barcodes and QR codes
- Reading and printing the chip ID numbers in various formats
- Chip encoding - writing custom data, change keys.
When reading and printing the chip ID numbers on cards, we take extra care that the reading format is correct for the desired application.
For a quotation, please send us the needed quantity, chip type, and other specifications and we will send you an offer within three working days (usually the same day).
If you need larger quantities send an email to email@example.com or call +38641 884 124 and we will be happy to help you.
If you are an integrator or reseller, we offer special discounts.