Printable ID Card Varieties & Materials

The Zebra ZXP Series 1 and Series 3 printers allow you to print images and information directly onto a plastic card. These cards can be used for identification, membership, employment, hospitality, etc. Choosing the appropriate card for intended use depends on a few factors.

How frequent will the card be used?

The selected thickness and material of a printable card depends greatly on how often the card will be used. If the card will be used a few times a month or few times a year, a thin PVC card 20 Mil or less than will be sufficient. If a card is being used multiple times a week, a standard PVC card 30 Mil or thicker is appropriate. A PVC composite card can withstand being used every day.

Does the card need to be encoded with information?

Select blank PVC cards come equipped with a magnetic stripe, which creates a “smart card.” It can be used to store student identification or account information, or hold a gift card balance.

Does the card need additional security?

If unauthorized card duplication is a concern, we offer colored PVC cards and white PVC cards with specialized hologram designs.

Ready to start printing your own ID cards? Select one of our Zebra card printer starter packages and whichever blank PVC card best matches your needs. If you’re unsure as to which model or material is best for you, please contact us – we’re happy to give you a personalized recommendation.

Understanding ID Card Printing Terminology: Card Printer Ribbon Cartridge Abbreviations

What Do YMCKO and YMCKOK Mean?

Members of the print industry easily recognize the letters “CMYK” as the four basic colors of printing: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. The four of these colors are layered in different increments on paper to create hundreds of color output combinations.

This same method applies to ID card printing. The letters “YMCK” also stand for the same four basic printing colors: Yellow, Magenta, Cyan and Black. When a color cartridge is indicated as “YMCKO,” the cartridge first prints all four basic colors then adds a clear Overlay (the “O”) at the end to protect the printed image.

A cartridge marked as “YMCKOK” is also a color cartridge complete with clear Overlay, but the “K” at the end indicates this cartridge is used for dual-sided card printing. This cartridge allows you to print full color on the front side and just Black on the reverse side.

Other Abbreviations

Some Black cartridges bear different abbreviations like KdO and KrO. The “K” indicates it is a Black cartridge and the “O” at the end indicates it also comes with a a clear Overlay. The lowercase “d” stands for “dye” while the “r” stands for “resin.” The KdO cartridge is ideal for printing grayscale images with light, midtone, and shadow while the KrO is perfect for printing crisp black lines in logos and barcodes for easy reading.

To learn more about ID card printing equipment and supplies, visit our complete selection on