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Plastic Card Printing Glossary

In the plastic card industry there is a different form of terminology used for different things. Sometimes during the process of ordering you might know exactly what you want but do not exactly know what the product is called or the representative who is helping you is using these terms and you have no idea what they are referring to. Below you will find a list of terminology used in the plastic card printing industry.


Coercivity –

This is a measure of the strength of a magnetic field. Fields that are generally used are low or high by the terms of LoCo and HiCo.

Encoding –

Recording electronic information on to a magnetic stripe.

Degaussing –

Magnetic stripe data erasing.

Digitizing –

Conversion of non-textual data to digital form.

Embossing –

This is the raised letters or numbers that can be put on a card that looks like the letters and numbers on a credit card. Letters have to be capitalized and can only be in small embossing and numbers can be small or large, however the space can only be 19 characters across including spaces.


International Standards Organization, central body for formation and dissemination of industry standards for all national standard bodies.

Lithography or Offset Printing –

Most common process for plastic card printing based on the concept that oil and water is not compatible. The ink is the oil and the alkaline fountain solution represents the water. These are the two main components which must interact during the printing process, allowing the ink to adhere to the image area of a printing plate while the fountain solution repels the ink from the non-image area.

On-Line –

A transaction on a terminal permanently connected to a network that is on-line to the card account.

Off-Line –

A transaction via paper or reader not connected to a central system.

Personalization –

Printing, encoding and programming a card with data specific to an individual.


Polyvinyl chloride, the most widely used plastic material.

Radio Frequency Card (RFID)

A proximity card in which the coupling between the card and the interface device is by radio.

These are some of the terms that are used in the plastic card printing industry. There are many more, but these are the most common ones that people have questions on.

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