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Printer Buying Guide

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Here at ID Card Centre we want to ensure that anyone looking to purchase an ID card printer is advised as best as we can so that you get the most suitable printer for your specific needs.

With hundreds of variations of printers in our ID card printer range, it can be difficult to decide which is the best at what you want it to do. In this guide, we'll look into the key points of each of each printer in our main range. These are print speed (YMCKO), print speed (YMCKOK), print speed (monochrome), volume and price.

This guide doesn't cover our full printer range, so if you can't see the printer that you're looking for then just use our search bar at the top of the page to find the printer you are interested in. Alternatively, you can get in touch with us at and we will be happy to help you further.

Print speed (YMCKO)

HID Fargo DTC1250eEvolis PrimacyIDP Smart 51
1st - HID Fargo DTC1250e
At a maximum of 225 cards per hour, the HID Fargo DTC1250e is the fastest printer in the range for printing full in full colour to one side of your cards. This is helped by the inline card printing process that it adopts- the card enters the printer on one side and travels straight through before emerging from the opposite side of the printer.
2nd - Evolis Primacy
The Evolis Primacy, also with a maximum output of 225 cards per hour, adopts the same inline printing method to speed up the process by reducing card movements. The Evolis Primacy also offers output to the front of the printer for ease of use- but this does reduce print speed slightly as a result. A laminator module is also available for the Primacy.
3rd - IDP Smart 51
In 3rd place is the IDP Smart 51, following closely behind with a speed of 210 cards per hour. On YMCKO print speed alone, the Fargo DTC1250e offers the best value for money and is also capable of double sided printing too, at a fraction under the price of the IDP Smart 51. Like the Evolis Primacy, the Smart 51 is also available with a laminator module.

Key fact: YMCKO stands for Yellow, Magenta, Cyan, Key (Black) and Overlay. These are all the different elements that make up full colour printing.

Print speed (YMCKOK)

IDP Smart 51HID Fargo DTC1250eEvolis Primacy
1st - IDP Smart 51
The fastest printer in the range for full colour printing to one side and black to the rear is the IDP Smart 51 with the optional dual-sided upgrade- the Smart 51D. With a maximum YMCKOK print speed of 160 cards per hour, the Smart 51D is great for producing double sided ID cards at high volumes and with a fast turnaround. The IDP FINE Imaging Technology produces crisp images, true-to-life colours and sharp text, even with very small text elements.
2nd - HID Fargo DTC1250e
The HID Fargo DTC1250e offers a similarly fast YMCKOK print speed of 150 cards per hour and has a lower cost than the IDP Smart 51D. The print quality, although still high, doesn't match the Smart 51- but the DTC1250e does have HID iClass encoding capabilities, making it the go-to printer for organisations using this system.
3rd - Evolis Primacy
In 3rd place is the Evolis Primacy, with a maximum YMCKOK print speed of 140 cards per hour. Unlike the Smart 51 and Fargo DTC1250e however, the Evolis Primacy can print in full colour at 600dpi (dots per inch)- so it's more capable of printing finer details and smaller text or image elements without losing the sharpness. Note that the print speed when printing at 600dpi is longer.

Key fact: The extra K panel enables black print to the rear of the card. For full colour printing to both sides, a YMCKO ribbon should be used- otherwise the additional K panel of the YMCKOK ribbon will be wasted with each print and your printing cost will increase.

Print speed (Monochrome)

Evolis PrimacyMagicard Rio Pro 360IDP Smart 31
1st - Evolis Primacy
The printer with the fastest monochrome printing speed is the Evolis Primacy with a maximum output of 1000 monochrome prints per hour. This is thanks to it's inline printing layout and rear output hopper that can be used instead of the larger output hopper at the front if optimum print speed is required. The Evolis Primacy also offers good print speeds for full colour printing, too- and with its dual sided print capabilities it's also one of the most versatile ID card printers.
2nd - Magicard Rio Pro 360
In second place is the Magicard Rio Pro 360, with a maximum monochrome print speed of 720 cards per hour. The Rio Pro 360 features an upgraded circuitboard over it's predecessor, the Rio Pro- allowing not only faster print speeds but also superior quality and improved HoloKote capabilities. If security is a priority for you, the Rio Pro 360 offers advanced visual security features. Where the old Rio Pro had just 5 HoloKote designs in total, the updated 360 model offers a much more versatile selection of 10 standard designs as well as the option for a further 10 custom designs, integrated through the HoloKote online tool. It also uses Magicard's LYNK technology which makes it easier to integrate the ID card printer with your existing systems.
3rd - IDP Smart 31
The IDP Smart 31 and the Smart 51 share the same monochrome print speed of 720 cards per hour, so based solely on monochrome printing the Smart 31 offers better value for money. Compared to the Evolis Primacy and Magicard Rio Pro 360, the IDP Smart 31 prides itself on a much lower price, but it is also suited to a much lower annual print volume than the aforementioned.

Key fact: Monochrome, despite what many people think, doesn't have to be black. Monochrome simply means 'one colour', so monochrome printing, simply put, is printing in one colour- which may be red, green, blue or any other colour available for your printer!


Evolis PrimacyHID Fargo DTC1250eIDP Smart 51
1st - Evolis Primacy
The Evolis Primacy is the most capable of printing at high volumes, with an approximate yearly volume of 30,000 cards, so it's suitable for large organisations that need the availability to print large quantities of cards on site. It's covered by a standard 3 year warranty which covers both the printer and the printhead.
2nd - HID Fargo DTC1250e
Like the Evolis Primacy, the HID Fargo DTC1250e comes with a 3 year manufacturer warranty- and with an estimated annual print volume of 10,000 cards it's still suited to large print runs. It's the fastest of the 3 at printing in full colour too, favouring large print runs when a fast turnaround is required.
3rd - IDP Smart 51
IDP's Smart 51 also has a print volume of approximately 10,000 cards, but comes with a 5 year manufacturer warranty as standard whereas the Primacy and Fargo DTC1250e are 3 years with the option to extend this.

Print volume should be one of the key things that you consider before you invest in an ID card printer. No, not how loud it is- but rather how many cards it's suited to printing annually. Consider how you intend to use the printer- approximately how many employees does your organisation have? Will you be printing anything else other than ID cards- maybe visitor badges, loyalty cards or membership cards?

Price (£)

Magicard ProntoIDP Smart 31HID Fargo DTC1250e
1st - Magicard Pronto
At the budget end of our ID card printer range is the Magicard Pronto at just £475.00. This hand-fed printer may be small, but it's capable of both smartcard and magstripe encoding making it easy to enroll new ID cards to your existing accesscontrol system on an ad-hoc basis. As well as this, the Pronto features Magicard's HoloKote technology so that you can add further visual security to your cards.
2nd - IDP Smart 31
The IDP Smart 31 offers great value for money. The starting price of £549.00 gets you IDP's FINE Imaging Technology, enabling high print quality in the form of crisp colours and sharp text as well as true-to-life colours. In addition to this, The Smart 31 comes with a standard 5 year manufacturer warranty.
3rd - HID Fargo DTC1250e
With a £674.95 price tag, the HID Fargo DTC1250e is notably more expensive than the IDP Smart 31, but this is justified by the machine's impressive print speed and ability to encode HID iClass cards.

Before you buy an ID card printer, consider your budget first so that you can more easily choose the right printer for you.

Still not sure which printer's right for you? Please get in touch with us and we'll be happy to advise you based on your needs. You can call us on 01604 422422 or send us an email to and we'll be in touch with you.

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