If you have ever visited an event such as an exhibition, conference, sports event, or concert, you may have been issued a pass or ticket of some kind. These passes are used to gain access to the venue and often have to be worn as a visible ID. Depending on the type and duration of the event, there are a number of different styles of passes which are commonly issued:
Cardboard badge/ticket – These are generally printed using a direct or thermal transfer printer onto a ticket of around 200 microns thick. The front is normally pre-printed with a color logo and other fixed information, and the back is pre-printed with terms and conditions of use. The printer will then personalize the ticket/badge in a single color. The badges/tickets will be supplied either fan-folded with a perforation between each or on a roll for the printer to cut at a designated point. Security features such as UV ink, watermarks, and holograms can be incorporated into the pre-printed ticket. This prevents them being duplicated. Small RFID chips can be embedded into the badge/ticket, although this is not as common in the event market. If being used as a badge which will be worn, a pre-punched slot can be incorporated so they can be quickly and easily attached to a clip or lanyard. Alternatively, the printed badge can be placed in a clear vinyl holder.
Plastic card – For longer term events, season passes or conferences where a higher quality badge is required, plastic is ideal. Not only are they more durable than cardboard, they also promote a more professional image. In most cases a standard 54mm x 86mm CR80 size plastic card is used as the printers are widely available and relatively low cost. Some event organizers, particularly for high profile sports events, prefer a larger format card of up to 88mm x 140mm. There are a number of printer manufacturers offering solutions to personalize all or part of this size card. One of the other advantages of a plastic card is that it can incorporate technologies such as magnetic stripe, contact smart and contactless smart to allow the card to be pre-programmed for access control, tracking, and even cashless payment. Depending on the requirements of the event, plastic cards can be printed on-demand in single or full color or pre-printed and then personalized. A wide range of card holders, clips and lanyards are available to allow the wearer to display their card.
Wristband – Widely used for hospitality applications such as music festivals, wristbands are normally pre-printed with the event branding and are often color coded to identify the status or validity of the wearer. They are personalized in a similar way to a cardboard badge or ticket using a direct thermal printer of which there are a number of dedicated wristband printers available. Wristbands for short term use are normally paper based and longer term ones are polypropylene based. They can incorporate RFID technology for tracking purposes, although most will normally have a barcode which is used to record when the wearer enters and leaves the event. Wristbands are a very flexible solution ideal for both adults and children as they are easily adjustable to fit the wearer.
For applications where you need to print event passes but not manage or track them, CardExchange® Producer has a host of features for printing any of these media types. As a powerful badge designer, CardExchange® Producer can be configured to print any size and format of badge incorporating text, graphics, 1D & 2D barcodes, photographs and signatures. CardExchange® Producer can also connect to a wide range of data sources from a simple text file import to simultaneous multiple database connections to MS Excel, MS Access, Oracle, SQL etc. Magnetic stripe, contact and contactless smart card encoding are all fully supported for applications where more than just barcode tracking is required.
An issue which faces all event operators is how to produce the badges quickly and efficiently. In certain cases, badges can be pre-printed before the event and then handed out as visitors arrive. Any additional badges and reprints can easily be done on site at the same time. However, for events where pre-printing is not possible and there are a large number visitors arriving in a short space of time, a quick and easy method of entering data and printing badges is required. The CardExchange® Producer automated printing feature is very useful in these situations, as it allow operators to enter visitor data into the database via an external application, such as a web browser, and print badges without actually having to touch CardExchange® Producer. Once setup, the automated printing feature polls the connected database looking for new records and when it finds one, it prints the badge to the pre-defined printer and marks the record as printed, automatically and without any user intervention.
For even greater flexibility and where there are multiple printers in use, the CardExchange® Producer SBS editions can streamline the badge printing and collection process. The print job is sent as normal but instead of it printing directly to a printer it goes to a dispatcher module.
This module looks for available printers and distributes the print jobs evenly between each to prevent some receiving more work than others.