Rewritable cards aren’t particularly new in the world of ID card printing. But they’re having a resurgence, as more and more companies look to print sustainably, reduce plastic and save money at the same time.
We look at how investing in an ID card printer that can print rewritable cards can save you thousands in consumable costs during its lifespan.
The answer behind this is a technology called rewritable printing, a process that requires no ribbon to personalise cards and the possibility of reusing and reprinting on cards up to 500 times.
How does rewritable printing work?
Rewritable cards are plastic cards that feature a gloss side that can be printed on by any desktop card printer, whilst the reverse side has a matte effect that contains a thermosensitive material that can be printed on and erased.
The thermosensitive material within the plastic card becomes visible when heated to 180°c, which then allows card printers with the rewrite technology to print information onto the surface of the card.
To then erase the rewritable card, simply apply a temperature of 110-160°c which in turn makes the material invisible – erasing the card with effectively a heating and cooling process made possible by the thermal head within the printer.
When would you use rewritable cards over regular cards?
The rewritable plastic cards are perfect for projects that update cardholder information frequently, such as companies that receive a high volume of visitors or one-off event passes for example – removing the cost of the blank cards and printer ribbons completely from regular card issuance.
What ID Card Printers have rewritable technology built in?
Rewritable technology is a feature that continues to be implemented in recently released printers, with the Evolis Primacy 2 and Magicard Pronto100 boasting rewrite capabilities.
The cost of rewritable cards vs regular plastic cards
You might be put off the price of a pack of rewritable cards versus a pack of regular blank cards, but it's important to look at the whole picture.
- A pack of 100 rewritable cards is approx. £80, or £0.80 per card
- Each card can be printed on approx. 500 times, giving you the potential of 50,000 total prints
- For 50,000 total prints, the per-card cost comes down to a tiny £0.0016p
Now let's look at regular prints, using a black ribbon for comparison.
A pack of 100 regular blank plastic cards is approx. £9.00, or £0.09 per card. For 50,000 total prints, you would need 500 packs = £4,500.
An average black ribbon is £15 for 1000 prints, so the total cost for 50,000 prints would be £750.
Giving you a per card printing cost of £0.10p, 6250% more than a rewritable card.
Of course there's a degree of common sense to be applied here. You won't always get 500 prints out of each card, and some will probably go astray and not be handed back in. But even taking that into account, the cost savings (and the sustainability win of not throwing thousands of plastic cards in the bin) are hard to ignore.