Different Materials Used to Make ID Cards

identify employees

Employee ID cards are primarily used to identify employees. They can be used to verify employment, secure access to restricted areas, and more. In order for these cards to last, quality materials must be used.

One of the most common card options is plastic identification cards. Employers widely use these for durability and low cost—it’s easy to protect them from damage or tearing easily. You can choose plastic ID cards with a horizontal badge holder for your employees.

Here are some of the most common materials used to produce identification cards:


While this is the most common material used to create ID badges, it’s also one of the most affordable. Two types of material are used in making these badges —one is more rigid than the other.

The more rigid type comes with a heavy-duty thickness, keeping cards safe from being bent or damaged easily. They’re made using PVC (polyvinyl chloride), making them great for outdoor settings.

The other is a bit thinner—these cards are called polycarbonate. They are also stiff, making them easy to handle when writing on the surface with a card-stock pen or marker. However, they can be scratched more quickly than their thicker counterparts.


Another popular choice for ID badges is laminate. Laminated IDs with a good quality horizontal badge holder are pretty durable, making them suitable for all work environments regardless of the setting or type of job being done.

They have a protective layer that shields them from damage and tears. Because of this, they keep cards looking clear and crisp, even after extended periods of use—even in harsh conditions.


This material is becoming increasingly popular due to its sturdiness. You’ll find that it’s one of the most preferred choices for access cards at present.

It has a glossy surface, making it ideal for printing because the ink doesn’t absorb into the card. It also makes photos and other images look crisper and more precise—it’s great for logos, too. However, these cards can be easily scratched or worn down.


You might want to use paper if you only need a small number of cards made. They are also inexpensive and easy to customize—you can get them printed with your logo or company name.

Although they are flimsy compared to other materials, they can be used more than once. Paper is ideal for short-term use, such as visitor passes or temporary ID cards.


According to reports, the global PVC market was 38.84 million tons in 2020.

PVC is a lightweight, flexible material. It’s commonly used to make promotional cards—they are inexpensive, but they are also known for being easy to damage or wear down. PVC Id cards have a glossy surface, making them perfect for printing.

However, you can’t write on the back of them without running the risk of tearing or scratching the surface.


It is another lightweight option—although not quite as flimsy as PVC. It’s easy to customize but does have a low resistance to heat, humidity, and chemicals.

Certificate Paper

You might want to consider certificate paper if you only need a few badges made. Like normal paper, they are inexpensive and easy to customize. They are suitable for short-term use, such as visitor passes or temporary ID cards.

Although printing is usually done with an offset method (the ink sits below the surface), it can also be used with digital printers. You can find this in many office supply stores—ask one of the staff members for assistance when looking at their different card stock options.

Certified Rubber Stamp

Tips to Selecting a Material for Your ID Card

Durability and Stiffness

Although all of these options are great for keeping the card flat and looking crisp, some materials will hold up better than others. For example, plastic cards tend to be more durable than paper ones.

However, if you have an access control system, it’s ideal to choose a card that’s slightly stiffer than the others—it makes it easier to swipe through the reader.

Hassle-Free Printing

There are printers explicitly designed for different materials, so you’ll want to consider this, too. Some printers produce better results than others, depending on the material it is used with.

You might also want to consider the shape of your badge. It will determine if you need a horizontal card printer or a vertical one.


You’ll want to find out where you can purchase these cards. Many manufacturers produce high-quality options—you have to know where they sell them.

Many office supply stores, sign shops, and printing companies carry them—if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can consider contacting the supplier and asking if they have it.

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