Three examples of ID cards

Increase Card Security Without Added Cost: The Benefits of Watermarks

With ever-increasing security threats, large and small organizations alike are keenly aware that one of the best ways to protect their people, data and monetary assets is to ensure that the cards they issue are highly secure. Depending on the type and size of the organization, these can range from ID cards and employee badges to membership and loyalty cards.

Although many organizations recognize the importance of card security, they may still have concerns regarding the cost of adding visual security elements (VSEs) or highly technical covert or forensic security features to their cards. Often, the expense of covert features, holographic overlaminates or foil cards is simply cost prohibitive. So, what can be done to increase card security without breaking the bank? The answer is a custom overlay watermark.

Custom Overlay Watermarks: Increased Card Security at No Additional Cost

Smart organizations seeking to increase card security without increasing their cost-per-card have discovered that choosing the right ID card printer can make all the difference. Solutions such as the FARGO® DTC1500 ID card printer from HID Global® come equipped with a built-in custom watermark overlay function — allowing organizations to apply a reliable and highly secure visual element to their cards at no additional cost.

This visual security element allows for the application of a customized transparent security image — such as a logo, symbol or text — to be integrated as a permanent watermark within the printed card’s overlay panel, making the authenticity of valid cards easy to verify but virtually impossible to duplicate.

Graphic illustrating the overlay watermark and ID Card

Watermark Advantages

Beyond the incredible cost-savings, another significant advantage of using watermarks over more technical visual security features, custom holographic overlaminates, or foil cards, is that they can be created quickly and in-house for immediate use.

With other custom visual security solutions, there is often an eight-to-twelve-week lead time (or longer) from when an organization places an order to when they receive their customized laminates or cards. Often, these types of made-to-order products also carry a minimum quantity requirement to justify custom tooling — putting them out of reach for smaller organizations that typically print cards in lower volumes.

Applying a watermark using the DTC1500 is also incredibly easy to do. Users simply create their desired watermark image, save it as bitmap (.bmp) file and upload it to the printer’s driver so that it can later be accessed and applied during the printing process. Users also have the option of printing the watermark as a single image or as a repeating wallpaper image.

A Superior Solution

What makes the DTC1500 watermark feature superior to that of other card printers? Well, unlike many other card printers on the market today that offer some type of watermark feature, the DTC1500 does not require additional investment in special consumables such as print ribbons that incorporate a fluorescent panel. The DTC1500 applies the watermark directly onto the standard overlay panel of the print ribbon during the normal printing process.

Another benefit of the DTC1500 watermark feature that sets it apart is that it only applies custom images. Many other printers on the market include stock watermark imagery. The drawback to these types of solutions is that because the images are not custom or proprietary to the individual organizations using them, there is a greater risk of fraudulent duplication. Anyone with the same ID card printer can apply the same stock image watermark, thus rendering the ID badge or card inherently less secure. Conversely, the custom imagery that is applied with the DTC1500 ensures that credentials are truly unique to the organizations that issue them and cannot be easily replicated.

Watermarks: A Favorable Alternative

Given the complexities and cost associated with more high-tech, embedded security features and the expensive, long lead times and quantity requirements of made-to-order overlaminates or foil cards, customizable watermarks are proving to be a more favorable alternative for today’s cost-conscious organizations. Watermarks significantly increase card security but require zero additional investment — putting highly secure yet surprisingly affordable cards and IDs within reach.