Thermal transfer printing uses a polyester tape covered in dry ink. The head of the printing device heats the ink on the tape leaving contrast permanent print with 300dpi resolution.
In one-colour printing, the colours used could be: black, red, green, blue, yellow, and white. This printing is usually used for personalization of the client cards with names, identification numbers, barcodes, logos and graphics.
They are typically used for membership cards, passport cards, insurance cards, client cards with barcode, telephone cards, lottery cards with scratch panel.
In full-colour printing, multi-panel tapes are used. The colour tapes consist of 5 CMYKO (Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Schwarz-Overlay) segments. The five segments are always used, irrespective of how many colours the image has. The last segment, the so-called “Overlay” is a transparent layer 10-30µm thick, which seals the image and protects the tape from mechanic damages. They are typically used for passport cards with photograph, small numbers of client cards, and personalization of credit cards with a photograph.
The cards used in this type of printing have to be of a very high quality. This means that the card's surface has to be clean, without any dust or contaminators, which could damage the head of the printer. Cards' deformation, such as the back of the chipcards or contact-free cards, result in waste, since the head of the printer cannot fit tightly to the card' s surface.