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Frequently Asked Questions

FargoQ: What card sizes and finishes do FARGO Card Printers accommodate?

Standard Card Size: The standard credit card size is called CR-80. CR-80 has dimensions of 3.375" x 2.125" (85.6mm x 54mm) and a thickness of 30 mil (.030"/.76mm). 

Oversized Cards: Oversized cards are called CR-90 and CR-100. They are available from FARGO and are accepted in FARGO Card Personalization Systems. CR-90 has dimensions of 3.63" x 2.37" (92mm x 60mm). CR-100 has dimensions of 3.88" x 2.63" (98.5mm x 67mm). 
(Note: FARGO HDP, DTC700 and Pro-L Card Printer/Encoders can be used to print oversized cards; HDP is required for printing edge-to-edge on oversized cards.)

Smaller Card Size: The CR-79 UltraCard stock offers medium card durability with a glossy PVC laminate on top and bottom. CR-79 has a 10 mil/.25mm thickness with a 10 mil/.25mm adhesive backing (total thickness is 20 mil/.5mm). CR-79 has dimensions of 3.313"L x 2.063"W / 84.14mmL x 52.39mmW.
(Note: This card is slightly smaller than the CR-80 size. It is designed mainly for adhesion to proximity cards, fitting just inside the edge of the cards for ease of placement.)

Glossy and Matte Finish Cards: FARGO provides both glossy UltraCardsT for direct-to-card printers and matte finish HDP Cards for High Definition Printing.


Q: What card types should we use in our FARGO Card Printers?

FARGO provides two card types for use in traditional direct-to-card printing, as described below:
(Note: The optimal surface texture for printing is smooth and glossy, as well as dirt- and debris-free.)

UltraCardT cards have a clear, glossy PVC laminate on the top and bottom of the white PVC cards. These cards provide moderate durability and are optically inspected to provide clean, scratch-free surfaces for optimum print quality and extended printhead life.

UltraCard III PVC/polyester cards provide maximum durability and print quality. These cards have the same clear PVC laminate on the top and bottom as the UltraCards, but have a polyester core that prevents warping during lamination.
(Note: UltraCard III cards are required when using PolyGuardT or Thermal Transfer Overlaminates.)

Q: What are High Definition Printing (HDP) Cards?
What do we need to know about these types of cards?

Low-cost and non-laminated: HDP 100% PVC cards are low-cost, non-laminated cards with a distinctive matte finish.

Moderate Durability: HDP Cards provide moderate durability and are ideal for cost-sensitive applications.

Usage: HDP Cards are intended for use only with FARGO's HDP Card Printer/Encoders.

Non-usage: HDP Cards have a matte surface, which is not suitable for direct-to-card printing.

Card Stock: Video-grade PVC card stock (UltraCard and UltraCard III cards) with polished, scratch- and debris-reduced surfaces are also fully acceptable for High Definition Printing.
(Note: A perfect print image is virtually guaranteed by using a card that has been optically scanned to eliminate surface imperfections in conjunction with HDP Film.)


Q: What is the difference between high-coercivity and low-coercivity magnetic stripe cards?

Magnetic stripes are commonly found on credit cards, access level cards and other cards used in all kinds of applications. (Note: This well-established technology is used in industries with low- to medium-data storage requirements.)

Black or Brown Stripes: Magnetic stripe cards are simply PVC cards with either black or brown stripes on them (made up of magnetic particles of resin). Brown stripes are generally low-coercivity (LoCo), while black stripes are high-coercivity (HiCo).

Encoding Levels: FARGO LoCo cards encode at a level of 300 Oe (oersteds) while HiCo cards encode at 2750 Oe.

Coercivity: Coercivity is the ability of the magnetic stripe to resist demagnetization. (Note: Higher coercivity means that it is harder to encode and erase information from the stripe; thus it provides more robust data.)

Magnetic Head: Magnetic stripe cards can be printed and encoded in a card printer/encoder (equipped with a magnetic head).


(Note:  The FARGO HDP, DTCT, and Pro-L Card Printer/Encoders can be used to both print and encode magnetic stripe cards.)



Q: Do you have card-handling tips for direct-to-card printer/encoders?

Contamination: Always handle blank cards with care to prevent contamination from dust, dirt, lint, oils and fingerprints. This contamination can result in voids, lines and/or dull areas on the printed cards. This contamination can greatly reduce the printhead life of direct-to-card printers.

Preprinted Cards: Handle all preprinted cards from the edge (like you would handle a photograph).

Card Storage: Always store the cards in their original packaging or in a dust-free environment. 

Soiled Cards: If cards are dropped or soiled, do not attempt to use them. Instead, replace the soiled cards with clean, fresh cards.

Card Maintenance: You should continually maintain clean cards at your site.
(Note: This maintenance can result in an extended printhead lifespan, as well as an increased consistency of high-quality printed images.)


Q:  What are card quality issues for direct-to-card printing?
  There is a considerable variability in cards, based on:

Surface Textures: Refers to different surface textures and different sources of raw materials.

Assembly Methods: Refers to varied methods of assembling IC smart cards and proximity cards.


Q: What concerns should we have about our card stock?
  Cards are manufactured worldwide and can be purchased from a multitude of sources. It is critical to obtain cards of acceptable quality for dye-sublimation, direct-to-card printing for these reasons:

Damaged Pixels: When a printhead comes in contact with a dirty card surface, the dirt can crack the covers on the printhead pixels, as well as damage the pixels themselves. These damaged or broken pixels cannot transfer dye to card surfaces, and will leave thin white streaks across a card.

Assembly Methods: Varied methods of assembling IC smart cards and proximity cards.

Jagged Edges: Some manufacturers use inexpensive production methods (e.g., punching cards out with dull dies) that leave rough, jagged edges.

Burrs: Burrs on card edges can snag printheads and ribbons.
(Note: This can result in defective card prints and costly printhead replacement expenses.)

Unclean Printing Room: Cards produced in factories (with no quality control or clean room practices in place) are often coated in dirt and debris.

Dirty Card Surfaces: Small pieces of dirt and debris on a card will appear in the print.
(Note: This can make the cards appear unattractive and unprofessional.)


Q. Do I need this hardware key after I install the program?

A. Yes, the hardware key (or Dongle) must be on the LPT port at any time you want to use EPISuite.

Q. Is there a faster way to change a card status to unprinted?

A. Yes, the F8 key located on the top, middle section of the keyboard will bring up the change status window with the “unprinted” selection already chosen. Then a simple press of the enter key will change the status.

Q. Can layout of the data entry screen in GuardCard be changed?

A. Only to a small degree can this interface be changed. You can adjust what fields show on the screen and what order they are displayed but you cannot change where they show up on the screen. To change this you click on View from the menu bar, then Data Field Setup. This will open the Field Setup screen where you can make adjustments to the fields that display.

Q. Can I put different colors on my card design to designate different departments or security levels?

A. If you have the Lite or Classic versions of the software then the answer is NO. Each different color would need to be on a separate card design. If you have the Pro version of EPI then you can utilize the conditional display functionality of GuardDraw to assign variable information to a single card design.


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