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PVC Cards VS Composite Plastic

PVC cards VS composite plastic cards

At PlasCards we offer two types of plastic card printing to choose from;

  1. Composite Layered Plastic: - Composite plastic cards have a printed synthetic "Teslin" like core, typically 10 mils thick. All printing is done on the core, and then we die-cut and laminate it on both sides to bring the total card thickness to the desired thickness of 30 mil.
  2. PVC Plastic Cards: - With PVC plastic cards, the printing is done on the actual plastic material, a variety of UV coatings can be applied to for the desired finish.


Two Most Obvious Differences: -

  • Both card types have the same standard 30 mil plastic thickness. However, the composite cards have just a little bit more bent to it, thus preventing it from breaking, whereas PVC cards which is a solid plastic will break if its forcibly bent. -
  • Composite cards have a strong lamination over the print, making the cards extremely durable, and water resistant. - VS - PVC that only has a thin coating above the print and artwork, and therefore does not have the same durable protection.

Story Time: - We recently had a client accidentally have their composite plastic cards go through the washer, and then the dryer. Afterwards, those cards were as bright and clear as the other cards which didn’t go through the washer/dryer, and the lamination was intact and showed no sign of detachment or leaking. - We definitely made a believer out of this client...



Let's take a look into the various pros and cons for each plastic type;

Composite Plastic Cards Printing

  • Digitally printed = Photo quality, full one to one variable capability on the press
  • Lamination over the print = Extreme durability and water resistant. - Composite cards have an overall much longer life span, and will last a lot longer then PVC cards
  • Fast process = After proof approval, we can rush production turn time on most orders.
  • Various lamination options = The finish you need for application, such as: gloss, matte writable, thermal printable, arcylic and magstripes
  • Multiple thicknesses = Thickness can be adjusted by altering the core and laminate thicknesses. Up to 30 mil thick.


PVC Plastic Cards Printing

  • Offset printed = Photo quality - Has a lot of limitations with variable data.
  • Solid card = A good example would be a credit card, - but its hardness may cause it to break if bent.
  • UV coating = Multiple finishes are available to meet the needs of your application, such as: gloss, matte writable, thermal printable, arcylic and magstripes
  • Multiple thicknesses = From 10 mil to 30 mil thick

PVC VS Composite for Variable Data Printing

  • Composite plastic cards provides the most flexibility for variable data printing
  • Variable can be added at the press or offline
  • Can provide true one to one variable
  • Variable data can be any images, fonts, colors, etc.

  • PVC plastic cards has more limitations
  • Variable is added offline after the printing process
  • Variable data is limited to black letters and numbers with a limited font choice.
  • PVC cards will not print variable images

Bottom Line: When comparing both plastic materials, more often then not, composite plastic is a better choice when creating custom gift cards for your business, or plastic membership cards that need variable data printing. - PVC cards is a better choice when you need a magnetic stripe on a matte writable finish, or when you need to write and erase multiple times on your matte writable cards. -  If you are still not sure, we can mail you physical samples of both types, to help you make a better and more educated decision.