When you have multiple ID membership card to produce, you are faced with the dilemma about which type of a printer to use to print your membership cards. In this article we will look into three components that decide which type of printer will be more economical for your project, either an ID card laminator, or a plastic card printer.
We will take into consideration the two main factors: the price of the machines, laminator or card printer, and your labor cost. We will neglect to take into account the difference in price of the laminator plastic pouches and the cost of plastic cards or paper, and will assume that you already use a color or black and white paper printer that you mainly use for other purposes. We will also not consider the time it takes to design the membership ID cards. This should take about the same time regardless whether you are designing for laminated paper ID cards or for the plastic ID cards.
We will talk here about a specific example of needing to produce 1,000 color membership ID cards. Your situation will vary but you can always use your numbers in the calculations below.
The price of the machine
A good laminator that will have sufficient speed to produce one card in less than a minute will set you back by about $100. The least expensive, single sided plastic card printing machine will cost at least about $1,000.
The labor cost
I will assume here that a technician or a secretary will do the printing and laminating job at a cost of $25 an hour. I will assume that it takes about two minutes to generate a laminated card: this includes preparing a sheet of paper ID cards, cutting them up, and waiting one minute per card for the laminator to finish its job. So 1,000 cards will take up 2,000 minutes, or 2000/60=33 hours, and will cost 33*$25=$825. On the other hand, buying a plastic card printer with a feeder, 100 cards or more can be printed in a single job, requiring no supervision at all. This is a tremendous time saving.
In the example above, we have seen that a plastic ID card printer pays for itself in labor costs after about 1,000 cards. If you need more cards, you will save money on labor costs. If you need much less, the laminator will save you money while using up the time of your staff. So do the math. The more cards you need to print on a regular basis, the quicker the automatic plastic card printing will pay for itself and become profitable as compared to laminating.