ID Badge Glossary

Access Control Card – A technology-based ID card or badge presented to a reader to control access to and from a facility.

Adhesive PVC Stock – Ideal for recycling previously issued and printed RFID cards or placement onto thicker clamshell-style RFID cards. Once the stock is printed, the backing is peeled off and affixed to the CR-80 technology card stock. Minor formatting allows for easier placement.

Barcode – An optical mechanically read series of vertically printed lines separated by white spaces; when read by a barcode reader, it represents an encoded alphanumeric value. There are three primary barcode reader technologies: infrared, visible light, and laser. Infrared technology requires carbon ink printed to be read. A barcode is a low-security ID feature for simple data collection like job tracking, time, attendance, asset tracking, and membership identification.

Barcode Mask – Barcodes printed using a carbon-based format allow for a carbon-less barcode mask to cover the barcode and not allow the photo-copied version to be read for fraudulent purposes.

Cash Stripe – The cash stripe is a HiCo single-track magnetic stripe located in either track 2 (Debitech), track 4, or track 5 (ITC Systems) position. Primarily used in offline point-of-sale systems where the card stores the value on the stripe and is used to pay for the print, copy, and vending.

Coercivity – is a measure of the strength of charge to a magnetic field such as on a magnetic stripe. They are typically expressed as LoCo (300 Oersted/Oe) or HiCo (4000 Oe); 2750 Oe is an intermediate level but not a valid HiCo format.

Contact Card – Any smart card where information is transferred to a reader via a series of contact points located on the card.

Contactless Card – Any smart card that transfers data using radiofrequency technology via a transmitter and receiver.

Composite PVC – Polyvinyl chloride combined with polyester makes it more durable and can be used in lamination systems where heat typically damages 100% PVC. The most widely used plastic material for laminated PVC ID cards and badges punched for use with strap clips and lanyards.

Credit Card Size – Also known as CR-80, the standard industry size for PVC-produced identification badges and cards. (2-1/8″ x 3-3/8″). Most credit cards are 30 MIL thick; however, other common thicknesses include 10 and 20 MIL.

Dye Sublimation Printing – A process that uses heat to transfer color from monochrome or multi-panel colored printer ribbon onto PVC card stock. A typical ribbon comprises CMYKO: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black (K for carbon), and Overlay (1-micron thin protective layer). The dye/colors penetrate the card slightly, allowing one color to fuse with another.

Edge to Edge – The ability to print over all edges without any drop-out of printing along the edges. We refer to it as “full bleed.” Most direct-to-card dye-sublimation PVC card printers do not print true “edge to edge.” They can get very close, but it is hard to keep the registration settings to maintain it. Reverse transfer dye-sub PVC printers can print true” edge to edge” as they print an inverted image of the design on the underside of the transfer film that extends beyond the edge of the card before transfer to the PVC card.

Europay, MasterCard & Europay (EMV) – A standard for smart cards in the banking industry created by Europay, MasterCard, and Visa.

Embossing – Characters created by cold forming a reverse image by pressing the card’s plastic using a punch and die process. Very rarely used today.

Encoding – Within the identification card industry, it primarily refers to the processing and placing of electronic information onto specified tracks of a magnetic stripe. However, RFID, contactless, and contact smart cards can also be encoded.

Encryption – Transferring information during the encoding process based on an algorithmic key to intelligible to unauthorized parties.

Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) – The Global System for Mobile Communication a widely used digital mobile phone standard. It entails using a smart chip (SIM) to authorize using a mobile phone.

Gift Card – A retail prepaid card with a currency or unit value used to redeem goods and services.

Hologram – In the identification industry, real holograms are not used as security ID card stock features. The industry standard is tri-modal images, a “security seal” that changes colors when tilted and reflects off light. The original image, Advantage®, was developed by Armstrong Industries in Lancaster, PA, and became a standard in the driver’s licenses industry. Armstrong’s patent expired years ago, increasing competitive and alternate-priced options.

ID Badge – A worn ID Card that is either slot punched and attached to a strap clip or lanyard or placed in a protective badge holder.

ID Card – A non-worn card that identifies the holder and the organization the holder represents. This identification can be visual (printed logo, photo, and/or data), or electronic (magnetic stripe, barcode, proximity, contact, or contactless smart card).

International Standards Organization (ISO) – The central body for forming and disseminating industry standards for all national standards bodies.

Lamination – The durable outer layers of plastic ID cards. They are sometimes added to the personalization process for durability and security. PVC cards can be laminated during the printing process if they are made of a composition of PVC and polyester (composite stock). A laminate film can be manually applied after the card is printed. Teslin media must be laminated in a clear polyester and polyethylene pouch using a professional-grade laminator.

Loyalty Card – A loyalty card uses a barcode or magnetic stripe to track consumer spending and rewards recurring customers with points and discounts for purchasing new products and services.

Magnetic Stripe – The strip of magnetic recording material on the back of an ID card or badge typically made up of tiny iron-based magnetic particles, like barium ferrite, embedded in a plastic-like film inserted into a PVC card substrate. A HiCo or high coercivity magnetic stripe offers a moderate security level with a low issuance cost for door access, time and attendance, and payment.

MIFARE (ISO 14443 A or B) – A standard contactless smart card RFID card format operating at the frequency of 13.56 MHz. The easiest way to state the difference between the “A” and “B” formats is that the “A” format is considered an open standard, and the “B” is a closed/locked format. An example of a “B” format is HID’s iClass card, which has created a secure distribution channel working with authorized integration partners to use their secured/locked-down format. The technical difference states differences in modulation methods, coding schemes, and protocol initialization procedures.

Near Field Communication (NFC) – An RFID communication protocol between a device like a smartphone and an unpowered device like a contactless ID badge. An NFC device can be presented to a compatible NFC reader to open a door, clock into payroll, or purchase an item at a vending machine or a cash register, eliminating the need for an ID badge, card, token, or FOB. NFC operates using a 13.56 MHz frequency and is considered High-Frequency (HF) RFID.

Oersted (Oe) – The unit of magnetic coercive force used to define the ability to change or encode the information on a magnetic stripe. A magnetic stripe encoded at a 4000 Oersted(Oe) is considered HiCo, or High Coercivity, and 2750 – Oe is an intermediate level, and 300 Oe is LoCo.

Offline – A secure card and reader transaction conducted and authenticated at the reader level and does not require connection to a central system. This was a standard in campus point of sales systems until mid-2005 for pay for print, copy, and vending. Most systems use a single-track magnetic stripe that retains an encoded value directly on the card, which is used in a read/write format for managing both credit (adding value to the card) and debit (deducting value from the card) transactions. Some applications of contact and contactless smart cards exist in offline systems. There is a good application for contactless smart cards used offline for physical (door) access control, and most commonly seen on a hotel room door. Today, many offline physical access control transactions are populated back into the online system by the contactless smart card.

Online – A secure card and reader transaction read at the reader level but authenticated in a networked centralized system. The card itself carries no value. The online configuration applies to campus point of sale, physical access control, tracking, and time and attendance systems. Since 2005, online campus point-of-sale systems have become the industry standard, replacing offline CPOS systems in the USA.

Personalization – Printing, encoding, and programming a card with data specific to an individual cardholder.

Physical Access Control (PAC) – A system typically consists of at least a control device used to authenticate an individual and a locking device that is unlocked once authentication is valid. Most commercial systems include management software that programs advanced controller boards, panels, or even the reader with its built-in controller. These advanced components control multiple readers and locations using a series of user rights, time zones, and reader groups to which an individual is assigned. Most PAC systems use RFID badges as automatic authentication that may be combined with PIN and/or biometric presentation. Primary applications are door, parking, gate, cabinets, and locker access.

Prepaid Card – A branded merchant card with a stated value ($25.00) or consumer-specified value purchased for full value. The card is then used online at merchants that accept the merchant-branded card until the value is reduced to zero—major credit card brands back most cards today. Many prepaid cards can be reloaded today, increasing the recycling value for our environment. Prepaid cards are now being used to replace payroll checks via a direct deposit model for those who do not have bank accounts.

Proximity Card – Also called a prox card or proxy card, is a passive contactless card that is awakened and then broadcasts at 125kHz, communicating an encoded serialized ID value when it comes within the range or proximity of a reader’s radio frequency range, which is typically an inch or two. It offers a low to medium security with just a wave of the ID badge.

PVC – Polyvinyl chloride is the most widely used plastic material for ID cards. If you laminate your PVC ID cards, ensure they are made from a composite of 60% PVC and 40% polyester to prevent melting and damaging any internal RFID chips in the card.

Radio Frequency Identification Card (RFID) – A card in which the coupling between the card and the interface device is by radiofrequency. These are used as a standard communication protocol in both proximity and contactless smart cards.

Registration – A printing term referring to how multiple colors align with each other during the printing process to produce a clear image. It can also refer to a printer setting adjustment that determines how the edges of a printed image are placed to match the advantages of the media being printed on. Most printers have a slight tolerance in the movement of the printed image, requiring any portion of the printed image to be within the movement tolerance range; otherwise, it may bleed off the edge of the media and not be seen/cut off.

Reverse Transfer Printing Technology – is also known as high definition printing (HDP), the standard printing process for high-security card applications that use the contact and contactless smart chip cards due to surface irregularity. The technology prints reverse images onto the underside of a special film (over-lay) that fuses to the surface of a PVC card through heat and pressure. Since this process transfers dyes and resins directly onto a smooth, flexible film, the print head never comes in contact with the card surface itself. As such, card surface interruptions such as smart chips, ridges caused by internal RFID antennae, and debris do not affect print quality. Even printing over the edge is possible.

Signature Panel -is the area of an ID card where the cardholder enters a signature. Do not use signatures for identification; use a face photo as they are more reliable.

Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) – The smart card for operating GSM phones.

Skimming – Copying the encoding from one card to an alternate device for fraudulent duplication and use of the source ID card or badge. Magnetic stripes get the most recognition here, but RFID cards are the most vulnerable since they do not have to come in contact with the skimming device to be read unless kept in a shielded holder.

Slot – An elongated narrow hole punched into the ID card, making it an ID badge.

Slot Punch – A tool to punch the slot in an ID badge. Slot punches can be handheld, desktop, and even electronic.

Smart Card – A plastic credit card-sized card that contains one or more semiconductor chips. They are manufactured in contact and contactless formats. In the capability category, there are three types:

  • Memory Card: A smart card that stores and retrieves serial “streams” of data that are sent to or received from the semiconductor chip.

  • Protected Memory Card: A smart card that requires a secret code or PIN to be entered before the data can be sent to or received from the semiconductor chip.

  • Microprocessor Card: Contains a microprocessor chip with microcode that defines a command structure, a data file structure, and a security structure in the card.

Stored Value Card – A financial card encoded with a certain amount of money, with each purchase amount being deducted from the card.

Time and Attendance (T&A) – Also called a time clock system, it refers to a system that typically consists of at least a control device that is used to authenticate an individual and a recording system to record the employees in and out times generated from each valid transaction. Most commercial systems include management software to enroll employees, assign user rights, and then programs each time clock for use with the valid users. Time and attendance vary vastly in authentication media. ID cards or badges enabled with barcodes, magnetic stripes, and RFID technologies are presented to time clocks, which expedites the throughput time, unlike time clocks used with just a PIN pad.

Teslin – A plastic-like material with similar paper properties, making it ideal for working with inkjet printers for printing photo ID badges that are then laminated. This process is not as user-friendly as using a dye sublimation PVC card printer that does it all with one button press. Teslin is a common material used for key FOBs and loyalty/prepaid cards.

Thermal Transfer Printing – Used for text or barcode printing. It is typically black but can be a variety of mono colors. They cannot be combined as in dye-sub, so the last color printed is shown.

Ultra-High Frequency (UHF RFID) – A RFID card technology that has an extended read range up to 40 to 50 feet. This is primarily due to the UHF readers’ signal strength and antenna configuration of the UHF card, token, or FOB.