Troubleshooting for Laser Compatible Cards

There are basically 3 categories of upscale membership cards that can be configured for laser output: (1) cut cards glue affixed to carriers; (2) clean release cards affixed to carriers, and (3) integrated cards die cut from the form and most likely laminated with laser compatible material. Each card type presents unique challenges for the document professional to insure that the final product works with the intended equipment. One thing is for sure…card products and lasers are often uncooperative partners, even with the technological advances in recent years. The probability of significant pain is enormous for the document professional who thinks “laser compatible” really means compatible with all lasers.

Surprisingly, many manufacturers really don’t know for sure if the “laser compatible” cards they are producing are performing as expected in the field. Often, compatibility problems are “buried” by an eager-to-please laser personalization operator unwilling to reveal, or unable to document, how much trouble the product caused. In addition, many of us in the document business assume that “no news is good news” and, if nobody calls to complain, that means the product we provided worked perfectly. The reality of the situation is that cards and lasers are still uncooperative partners, and even cards that run well sometimes don’t perform trouble free (variable and elevated substrates along with multiple thickness issues alone will be burdensome for many laser operators).

So, if we want laser compatible cards to actually work on the user’s laser, we come to:

Troubleshooting Rule #1: Make sure you know what laser the user intends to use and provide a product intended for use on that specific laser.

Troubleshooting Rule #2: Always supply/request laser test samples with the blueline or proof and ask the user to sign an image approval form in addition to a blueline/proof approval form.

Troubleshooting Rule #3: Do not raise your client’s or user’s expectations by promising a completely trouble free product. All card products have both advantages and disadvantages – The trick is to find the best card for the intended laser printer, and then educate the operator(s) how to make that card best perform on that laser.