Printed wristbands are a secure and very cost effective option to identify individuals in a quick, reliable way. Given their low production cost, they are perfect for the temporary identification of patients, guests and event attendees. A variety of different colors, barcodes and custom designs can be used to ensure a secure and difficult to forge ID that is disposable yet rugged.
Creating high quality wristbands is a simple task with the correct solution in place. The center of any system will be a direct thermal wristband printer paired with the correct wristbands and software. Whether you are printing low volume, on-demand wristbands or in large batches there is a printer to fit your application needs. Due to their unique size, making sure the correct media matches the printer and your application is crucial to producing a well printed, durable wristband.
What are the Key Benefits of Wristband Printing?
Any application that needs to track individuals on a temporary basis can readily take advantage of the many benefits that wristband printing offers:
- Efficiency – Quickly produce the means to identify your event or facility’s permitted guests at a minimal cost.
- Security – Be assured that each visitor can be verified and IDs are not easy to forge.
- Simplicity – Print faster with on-demand, easy to load printers.
What is Wristband Printing?
Many companies will debate the benefits of a dedicated printer for wristbands as opposed to getting them pre-printed. In cases where the wristband is a static design that requires no unique identification per individual, a pre-printed wristband would be a useable option. However, wristbands normally need to identify a specific person or at least a class of individuals. This is where a dedicated printer offers fast, on-demand printing with complete customization. Especially in any case where you would want to use the security benefits of barcodes, a dedicated printer is the obvious choice. Most companies find the financial commitment of on-demand wristbands worth the initial investment because of the added value from printing customized information. In the long-run, the total cost of printing wristbands with an on-demand system will be much lower than a pre-printed option.
Dedicated wristband printers normally use direct thermal technology as opposed to laser printing. Laser may seem to be a suitable option, especially if you already have laser printers in use, but the added time and cost to generate wristbands make it less than desirable. The biggest issue with a laser printer is that wristbands are in sheet form or irregular shapes, which are difficult to load and often must be used in a special tray on the printer. This results in more time spent loading the printer and in some cases, the adhesive backing on the wristbands can discharge into your printer creating technical support calls and the inability to use the printer for other tasks. From a cost perspective, the added expense of toner makes laser printing more costly as direct thermal printing doesn’t use any ink or ribbon. A dedicated direct thermal printer is less expensive, very easy to operate and will produce higher quality wristbands when compared to a laser option.
Direct thermal printing utilizes heat-sensitive media that blackens as it passes under the printhead. Since they print without a ribbon, direct thermal printers are noted for their simplicity and very short load times. Direct thermal printed wristbands typically have a considerable shelf life but are not well suited for environments that expose them to extended periods of high temperatures. Because of this, thermal wristband stock is top coated to better resist the elements. Direct thermal printing produces sharp print quality with good scan ability using only one consumable. For any short term application, like wrist banding, Direct Thermal is the most time and cost efficient print method.
The wristband media for direct thermal printers is available with a variety of options to accommodate your specific application. They come in several sizes to fit adults to infants, with many color options. Some offer adhesives that are more resistant to water as well as lower cost options for single day use. Wristbands are normally made from a latex-free, polypropylene stock that will not tear but is still very flexible. No matter the application requirements, there are cost effective options to produce high quality wristbands that will last.
What Should You Address When Making a Wristband Printing System?
When putting together an effective and suitable wristband printing system there are a few key questions to answer:
- What is the printing volume/duty cycle? Will printing be done on a regular basis or as limited batches?
- What environmental factors will the wristband encounter? Indoor/Outdoor, extreme temperatures, exposure to liquids, heavy handling, etc…
- Will multiple colors of wristbands be used?
- Who will be wearing the wristband?
- What will be printed on the wristband? Text, barcodes, logos?
- Will the information on the wristband be static or dynamic?
- Will you need access to a database to populate the wristband?
What are the Components of a Wristband Printing System?
All wristband printing systems consist of 3 main components:
- Direct Thermal Wristband Printer – The printer is the center of your system and will determine what media you buy. The main concerns when selecting a printer are that it will support the print volume and connectivity your application requires.
- Wristbands – With options for size, color and adhesive type, there are wristbands for any environment. They are matched to your specific printer model though, to ensure the best print quality with minimal set-up.
- Design Software – Whether you are printing text, logos, or barcodes, the design software will determine what features are available to you. If you need to automate printing or have an existing database of user information, design software with the appropriate connectivity options is crucial.