How to print on pvc cards with inkjet printer

How to print on pvc cards with inkjet printer

In the era of customization, even cards are designed based on their purpose. They can be used for ID, membership, or gift cards. Card personalization aims to differentiate your business or field from the others.

But how are printed PVC cards produced? Easy! They can be made with the help of an inkjet printer. The thought of the printing card process might intimidate you. But calm your horses; it’s easier than it seems.

This detailed guide will walk you through the steps of PVC card printing. We’ll teach you how to choose the right inkjet printer to achieve vibrant results. Don’t be shy about showing your creativity. Be prepared to dive into PVC card printing using a trusty inkjet printer!


Understanding PVC Cards

Understanding PVC Cards

PVC is simply the shortened name of polyvinyl chloride, a plastic polymer. Did you know that over 40 million tons of this polymer is made annually? Thus, they are placed in the third spot for the most-produced synthetic polymer.

They are often utilized for common household stuff. You might be unaware of them, but you can spot them almost everywhere. They make up your plumbing lines, toiletry bottles, food containers, rain jackets, and many more.

Aside from the uses of PVC mentioned above, they are also used to produce cards. Among the card types in the market, PVC cards are the most common.

These cards are available in different sizes, thicknesses, and colors. The standard size is CR80 (3.375 inches x 2.2125 inches), the same as credit cards. Aside from this, CR79 is also popular. It measures about 3.303 inches x 2.051 inches.


Common PVC Card Uses

Common PVC Card Uses

PVC cards are used because of their durability. They are known for their resistance to wear and tear. What’s great about them is that they can maintain their quality for a long time. Here are some common uses for PVC cards.


1. Identification Card

As its name suggests, the purpose of an identification card is to identify. They could be employee, membership, and student ID cards.

2. Access Card

A lot of access control systems prefer to use PVC cards. They are embedded with smart chips or magnetic stripes. They sometimes use RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) or NFC (Near Field Communication) technologies to grant access to secured areas.

3. Gift Cards and Loyalty cards

PVC cards are popularly used for gift cards in different fields. Since PVC is waterproof, it is a durable alternative to paper-based gift certificates.

These plastic cards are also the number one choice for businesses regarding loyalty cards. Customers can accumulate points and receive discounts in a more versatile card type.

4. Bank Cards

Bank cards, such as credit and debit cards, are made up of PVC. This type of plastic is the perfect choice to embed magnetic stripes and smart chips due to its durability.

5. Event Passes

Events such as concerts, conferences, and gatherings require the attendees to have an event pass. This pass serves as a security measure by permitting only the authorized ones to enter the venue.


Decrypting Inkjet Printing

Decrypting Inkjet Printing

Customizing and printing PVC cards are easy with the help of inkjet printing. Before we proceed to the step-by-step process, let’s first discuss what inkjet printing is.

It is a type of printing that propels ink droplets to a surface to create texts and images. This process is possible with the help of a printhead and cartridge.

Inkjet printer card printing gives you a lot of advantages. It allows you to print fine details on your PVC card. Despite the small size to be printed, it will still come out in a high resolution.

In addition, inkjets do not disrupt the workplace because they operate quietly. Printing on PVC cards using an inkjet printer is also cost-efficient and convenient.


Choosing the Right Inkjet Printer

Choosing the Right Inkjet Printer

Before buying an inkjet printer, here are a few features to look for to ensure a smooth printing process.


1. Dedicated PVC Card Tray

This feature is the most crucial among the following ones. It is because inkjet printers cannot accommodate PVC card printing without the presence of PVC card trays. The tray is designed to hold and feed the PVC cards through the printer accurately.

2. Adjustable Card Thickness Settings

Always make sure that your inkjet printer has thickness adjustment settings. PVC cards are thicker than standard paper. Thus, the printer should be flexible to accommodate their differences.

3. Print Resolution

Ensure the printer has high print resolution to achieve a vibrant image on your PVC card. This feature will allow you to print even the smallest details without being prone to image distortion. In addition to this, the result of your printing process will be more presentable and professional..

4. Compatibility with PVC Card Materials

Some printers are only compatible with paper. Since PVC is plastic and much thicker in size, always double-check if the printer is suitable for plastic cards and similar materials.

5. Ink Compatibility

Aside from compatibility with plastic materials, your printer must also have inks for PVC card printing. Using the wrong ink type will lead to design smudging. You want to avoid this problem since it can increase production costs.


Find a printer that supports dye-sublimation, pigment, UV-curable, and solvent-based inks to ensure durable prints. These ink types are the perfect match for PVC card printing. They provide a vibrant finish as well as long-lasting results on plastic surfaces..

6. Borderless Printing

Have you encountered having a borderless design but still having white borders when printed? It means that your printer hasn’t been set to borderless printing. Look for printers with borderless printing settings to utilize the whole PVC card.

7. Reliability and Durability

After taking note of the six features above, consider the printer’s overall build. The quality must be reliable and durable. This is to make sure that its performance stays the same over time.


When you doubt your inkjet printer settings, always refer to the printer’s manual. Double-check the specifications and ensure they are suited for PVC card materials.


Selecting High-Quality Inks

Selecting High-Quality Inks

Choosing the right ink is crucial if you want to achieve a vibrant and smudge-resistant finish on plastic surfaces. The following ink types are commonly suitable for PVC card printing.

1. Pigment inks

Pigment inks are known for their resistance to fading. Because of this fact, they provide sharp and long-lasting prints on PVC cards.

2.  Dye-Sublimation Inks

Dye-sublimation inks work well on plastic surfaces. They sublimate into the surface of the card, resulting in photo-realistic prints. If you opt for full-color printing on PVC cards, this type of ink should be your choice.

3. UV-Curable Inks

With ultraviolet (UV) light, this ink type is immediately cured or dried. They have a fast-drying property that is best for PVC card printing. In addition, they are durable to use due to their water resistance.

4. Solvent-Based Inks

If you use solvent-based inks, ensure your place is well-ventilated. They often have a strong odor that is very dangerous for the lungs. Make sure to air out as much as possible. The same goes for UV-curable inks; they are also water-resistant.


Remember that your ink must be compatible with your inkjet printer model. Different printers may have different ink formulations. Using the wrong ink type may damage your printer.


PVC Card Printing Guide

PVC Card Printing Guide

You have now reached the most important part of this article: the step-by-step process of “how to print on PVC cards using an inkjet printer.” The following are the best practices for printing PVC cards.

Step 1: Set Up Printer

Once you have your inkjet printer for PVC cards, dedicate a workspace for it. It must be well-ventilated and less cramped. Make sure that the printer is safe and clean.

If you have set up the right environment for the printer, it is time to install the PVC tray. Don’t forget to double-check the tray if it fits perfectly. It must be the same with the one required by the printer model.

Step 2: Adjust Printer Settings

After setting up, try to connect your printer to your computer. You can link the latest inkjet printer models through wifi. There are also some that use a designated app to print. If you want to know more about this, research the model or read its user manual to know.

Once you have successfully accessed the printer settings, adjust the following:

  1. Choose the right media type which is a PVC or plastic card.
  2. Adjust print quality to the highest resolution for vibrant PVC card printing.
  3. Configure color settings based on the color profiles that you need.

Step 3: Do a Test Print

Never forget to do a test print. This is an important step before you print the final design for your PVC card. Grab a piece of paper or a spare PVC card.

Try to print your design on it. By doing so, you can check your design’s alignment and color accuracy.

If you are still unsatisfied with the results, you can always adjust the PVC card printing settings. Test print as much as you need. Remember that the purpose of doing it is to save ink and prevent batch printing errors.

Step 4: Print Your PVC Cards

If the test print comes out great, that’s the time with proceed printing on plastic cards. Since you have linked the printer to the computer already, you can initiate the print job from your computer.

After doing so, standby while the printing process is ongoing. Why would you do this? So you can address printing issues immediately if there are any.

Step 5: Let Cards to Dry

After you are done with the printing, leave your cards to dry. Put them in a cool and dry place for a few minutes before handling them. This process will ensure that the ink sets properly and avoids smudging.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

If you want to improve the lifespan of the ink on PVC cards, consider finishing touches. You can choose to add a protective coating or lamination to the card.

Step 7: Troubleshoot if Needed

Last but not least is PVC card printing troubleshooting if needed. If you encounter problems during the printing process, refer to the user manual to fix them. You can also post on online forums to ask for advice from experts.


Some common issues can be misalignment, ink smudging, and card feeding issues. Remember to quickly cancel the print job once you face these issues. Your fast response will help you save ink and energy.




The process of printing on PVC cards may sound complicated at first. But with the help of the right inkjet printer, ink, PVC card tray, and steps, everything becomes easy.

After reading this guide, we hope you can now confidently print on PVC cards using your inkjet printer. May this step-by-step process help you achieve the vibrant results you are looking for. Never hide your enthusiasm, and always let your creativity flow!


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