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Special Considerations with Die Cut Plastic Cards

Plastic die cut cards with mag stripes and barcodesIn my last post, I focused on all the possibilities with die-cut business cards. The sky is pretty much the limit when it comes to color and design – unless you need to add certain types of plastic card printing options.

If you’re thinking about going the die-cut route with your next batch of plastic cards, my first question to you is: what type of functionality do you need? There are limitations to what you can do with die-cuts and still have them work the way you want them to.

Die-cut Cards and Magnetic Stripes and Barcodes

Plastic cards with magnetic stripes (or mag stripes) have certainly become ubiquitous in the retail and food service industries. That’s because mag stripe technology (available in LoCo and HiCo versions) enables you to track just about any type of business- or customer-related data you can think of.

Any die-cut card that must be swiped has to meet some specific standards, including distance from the bottom of the card to the top of the mag stripe. After all, beyond looking good, you want the customer to be able to use the card successfully. So, when you are designing your die-cut, make sure nothing interferes with the mag stripe area.

The same goes for barcodes. You don’t want a die cut to hinder the placement or scanning of a barcode. Plus, the background behind a barcode must be light in color, or you won’t be able to scan it properly. If you need more specifics, I encourage you to read this barcode Q&A.

Die-cut Cards and Smart Card Technology

Doing a die cut with a contact smart card really isn’t a big deal, as long as you conform to certain parameters. You must design around the embedded integrated circuit (a fancy term for a microchip in the card) so that the user can scan it when required. However, I don’t recommend doing a die cut with contactless smart cards because of the internal antenna in the card.

So, bottom line, if you want a die-cut card with functionality (mag stripe, barcode or smart card), the rule of thumb is to keep the width of the card consistent. Then, in most cases, the sky truly is the limit.

If you have questions about die-cut cards, contact us at Plastek Cards.

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