You've come a long way, badges.
Forty years ago ID badges were developed, changing the way in which we enter and exit our homes and businesses. ID badges were developed by sealing different types of plastics over pictures. This process of sealing pictures in a plastic coating became known as lamination.
When it first caught on, laminating was done mainly for industrial and government sector badges because these sectors were using metal badges, which were much heavier and inconvenient to carry around. They also took longer to reproduce when lost and were impossible to put pictures on. With the new laminating process, it is possible to manufacture picture badges that are less expensive, faster to produce, and easier to carry.
Two basic types of badges were produced in the 80s and are still in use today: polyester plastic and vinyl. When durability, not security, is a key factor, polyester plastic is unsurpassed. It is also unaffected by temperature extremes and is virtually unbreakable.
Polyester plastic badges are coated on the inside surface with an adhesive, which is activated when the entire card and badge set is pressed and heated at low pressures and temperatures. Polyester plastic badges come in standard white and are often printed with a screen, dot, or multiple-logo pattern. Full-color printing on polyester plastic inhibits secure lamination. Printing on the badge must not run over the edge because it will cause the badge to come apart.
The most common polyester plastic badges are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic or vinyl. (Most bank cards and credit cards are Produced from PVC plastic.) It allows laminating several layers of material together to form one homogeneous mass.
The lamination stage uses heat and pressure to force the exchange of molecules between layers and permanently encapsUlates photos and printed data within the badge. Any tampering destroys the badge.
ARE YOU CONSIDERING PURCHASING a badge access control configuration for your facility? if so, you should consider a number of factors first. Such factors include your budget, the type of badge that best meets your security requirements, and the appropriate method of badge production for your facility.
Different security systems require different types of codes on the card for reading. If you aren't using a specific access control system yet, several options are available:
* Magnetic stripe cards provide a cost-effective, machine-readable personal key for 24-hour access. These are secure badges because altering or changing the codes must be done with an encoding machine.
* Bars on bar codes represent numbers. Different numbers are indicated by different widths of bars. A bar code can be printed either on a label to be adhered to the card or laser printed directly onto the plastic.
* Photos indicate if the correct person is using the badge.
* Signature panels require a signature of the individual to validate the badge.
* Numbering the badges enables the user to issue badges sequentially, thus adding an extra measure of security.
* Engraving is done on vinyl PVC badges only. With security engraving, a company logo can be raised on one portion of the badge or on the whole badge, making the badge virtually impossible to copy or alter.
* Embossed letters and numbers make it possible to run the badge through a machine to reproduce the information as with a credit card.
* Hollerith punching produces different holes in the badge, allowing the badge to be run through a reader and allow or deny the badge holder's access.
* A microchip can be added to a card. Such a chip makes the card smart. it can contain all kinds of information, such as medical records, security data, library information-any type of record that would be used for future reference.
BADGES CAN BE PRODUCED IN MANY ways. Producing them is not a complex task, but it is time-consuming. Badges can be made in-house or off-site, both of which methods have their advantages and disadvantages.
Producing badges in-house may seem expensive, but in the long run it is cost-efficient. If you choose to do badging in-house, specific equipment must be purchased. Cost will be high at first, but the only equipment needed after the initial start-up purchases will be laminating supplies and badge-wearing accessories. Dealing with a company that carries all of the products under one roof is advantageous and convenient.
To produce polyester badges in-house, you must have laminating equipment. For a small laminating job, you can use the smallest machine made, which will laminate photos or badges in pre-cut plastic pouches. With this particular machine the laminating process takes 15-20 seconds. The next larger machine available laminates materials 9" x 11 1/2" and smaller and can be used for a variety of laminating projects.
For larger laminating jobs you can use a laminating press, which laminates up to 80 PVC badges per hour. No training is needed. With this press you can laminate all-vinyl photo ID badges, magnetic stripe cards, credit cards, wood plaques, and more.
The most sophisticated tabletop machine offered is a computer-controlled, multiple-recipe, preprogrammed machine. You may create up to 10 different recipes, defining the amount of heat, pressure, and time you need to laminate any combination-from one card to 12 cards.
To simplify the time-consuming job of trimming, you can purchase photo trimmers and card and badge cutters to trim and round the comers of laminated ID cards and badges. They are easy to operate and enable you to center the card or photo in the badge.
Many accessories are designed to go with badges. To allow for easy carrying, you can purchase slot punches, straps, and clips. A slot punch is designed to punch out a slot for a standard strap clip. Straps and clips make it easy to carry your badge around without the worry of loss.
If you choose to use picture badges and you want to make them yourself, you will need a camera, laminator, cutter, punch, and supplies. Alternatively, you could supply pictures to a manufacturer and eliminate the need to purchase a laminator, punch, and supplies. You may have the manufacturer take the photos, eliminating the camera cost, too.
If you choose not to do badging in-house but rather to hire a company to do your badging, many companies offer a service bureau. The service bureau will come to your facility and take the photos. All names and specifications will be taken to its plant, where card production will be done step by step. You will be able to proof all of the work before it is finished.
When using a service bureau, be sure to plan ahead for rebadging. It takes time for the service bureau to receive changes and produce and return the badges.
IF YOU WANT A MORE VERSATILE AND accurate system, consider a video imaging system for badge production. Such a system prints a digitized card image directly onto paper. No film is used, no developing takes place, no camera needs to be cleaned, and no film needs to be stored. Your card prints ready to laminate.
A video imaging system can produce hundreds of prints per hour, depending on the system configuration. Such a system also can change the entire data base, badges, and backgrounds with just a few keystrokes and offer password protection based on your security requirements.
One video imaging system has a screen time-out that returns the system to the main menu to prevent unauthorized use. The system also can produce bar codes using any field within the user-defined data base and can form and print any report using the elements of the data base.
Using a video imaging system for the standard card production process provides many other advantages. These include the following:
Ease and accuracy. Watch the badge appear as you create it at a PC. Select the desired background and key in the data, which automatically appears in the appropriate area of the badge. The head-and-shoulders image is captured by a video camera connected to the system. The image is displayed live on the screen for viewing prior to saving. By pressing the key you freeze the picture on the card. The ID card image is then finished and saved.
Floating picture. By pressing a key you can remove the background behind your subject's image. The floating image has a cleaner, more recognizable appearance and is difficult to alter.
Background colors. This system can change the background behind the image to one of many colors stored in the system using just a few keystrokes.
Large printing. This system provides an option for large, bold letters for names and clearances that are easy to read at a distance.
Flexibility. You as the user have total control over the entire screen, giving you the ability to design and store many badge formats. Several different fields can be defined and displayed on the screen.
Recall. All badge images can be stored on disks and recalled and displayed on the monitor. Indexing software allows you to look up a person's image by name or number to print another card, if desired.
On-line image distribution. Stored images can be not only recalled but also transferred to remote viewing monitors, making positive identification possible by comparing an actual person with the stored image. The stored image can be recalled automatically when a badge is swiped through a reader or a keypad entry. The system will support simultaneous viewing of one image at multiple locations or concurrent display of different images at multiple locations, all from one host PC.
On- or off-site production. ID card images can be stored on disks and backed up on removable media, giving you the ability to save valuable employee time by using portable equipment to capture images in the field. The use of removable media allows production to take place at your badging and ID office while other ID images are being captured.
Data portability. The system has the ability to send and receive data to and from other computers-including mainframes and minicomputers-eliminating the need to rekey data.
Badge technology has come a long way since its beginnings 40 years ago, from badge production, to the materials used, to the many different accessories available, and finally to state-of-the-art video imaging systems. Future generations will have no idea what keys were used for.
About the Author . . . Linda Verretto is assistant marketing administrator for Harco Industries Inc. in Phoenix, AZ.
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|Title Annotation:||Cards: The Key to the Future; special access control supplement|
|Date:||Nov 1, 1990|
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