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Card Technologies
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When we use the term "card technologies" or "smart cards,” what do we mean? The easy answer is - any technology that can be placed on a card. Typically we think of our credit or bank card but there are other sizes and materials used for different applications. The card can be made of plastic (polyester, pvc, or some other material) or paper, or even some amalgamation of materials. The common point is that the card is used to provide "access" to something and it includes some form of automatic identification and data capture technology.

There are currently three main technologies we think of when we mention card technologies:

  • Magnetic stripe,
  • Smart cards, and
  • Optical cards.

Magnetic Stripe

The best-known applications of magnetic stripe are for financial cards, transit tickets, and ID cards. Financial cards include the familiar bank credit and debit cards used in Automated Teller Machines (ATM) and point-of-sale terminals, as well as prepaid cards used in telephones and vending machines. Transit tickets range the gamut from subways, railroads, buses, toll roads to airlines. ID cards include driver licenses, employee ID badges, membership cards, and door keys.

Click here to learn more about magnetic stripes.

Smart Card

Smart card technology rapidly gained acceptance in Europe as a telephone debit card because the high cost of communications made on-line verification of transactions very expensive. IC/smart cards are also used in vending machines, in lotteries, for secure access control to buildings and computers, for multiple application student ID cards, to scramble pay television signals, in healthcare applications, in banking, and to store automobile service histories.

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Optical Card

These data intensive cards are currently being used to store prenatal-care records, medical images and personal medical records; for high-security drivers' licenses and access/entry cards, auto repair/warranty records, secure bank debit cards, immigrant ID cards, and automated cargo manifests for Department of Defense logistics.

Click here to learn more about optical cards.

Dye Diffusion Thermal Transfer

Dye diffusion thermal transfer is used in a wide range of applications, for example, in post card printers, and video and computer graphics printers where the precision and quality of the image are prime considerations. The technology is being used increasingly for photo ID card applications. Perhaps the most visible examples in the U.S. are Citibank's photo ID Visa and MasterCard. Dye diffusion thermal transfer is also being used to create the photo ID on drivers' licenses for Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Florida, Ohio, and Massachusetts among a growing number of states. Internationally, dye diffusion thermal transfer is being used in combination with data capture technologies such as bar code, smart card, and magnetic stripe for national ID cards in China and Southeast Asia.

Click here to contact us about dye diffusion thermal transfers.

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