How to Setup a Variable Data Database to be Printed on Plastic Cards
Custom printed plastic cards can be used by anyone who uses a Point of Sale (POS) system and even those that do not.
Most common uses of plastic cards are; gift cards, loyalty rewards cards, Discount Cards, Fundraising Cards, membership cards, custom ID cards and hotel key cards.
For a lot of these card types, especially for custom ID badges, you may wanna print variable information that's unique to each card. – Variable data printing refers to any card data and imaging that is different from card to card such as barcodes, member names, PIN numbers and/or account numbers, sequential or random numbers, member photos, and any other variable information printed that is different for each card.
Variable Numbers Printing per Card
Let’s start by setting up a database with a simple Excel spreadsheet, that will be sent to print, along with your artwork, with each plastic card being printed with its respective data row from this database. NOTE: if your order contains more then one artwork version, then you should create a new separated spreadsheet for each artwork version, providing all data needed, for each row of the total quantity printed for this batch.
Let’s get a couple screenshots in, to help you understand better
Simple Variable Data Database - The first screenshot is a very simple to understand variable data database, that is often used for custom membership and /or loyalty cards printing. - You can add as many columns and rows as you need.
Using this method of providing a variable data database, you can print hundreds of thousands of custom membership cards, and personalize each card with text, numbering, barcodes, QR codes, information, and even showcase unique graphics and / or varied background images, unique to each card.
Keep in mind, that there is only one flat fee to print variable data on your order of custom plastic cards, based on the total order quantity. So you can print as many pieces of varied information on each card as you need, all at the same cost. - Having multiple sets of unique information per card, will not increase your total cost. - You can also send us your font file, font size and font color to be used for each line of variable data, at no additional cost.
Advanced Variable Data Database - with the second example, - most often used for custom gift cards printing - we have 2 art versions ready to print, and the first spreadsheet named “Artwork Version 01″ provides the variable data to be printed on artwork version 01. – In this case a $25 custom gift card. – Now, with this data provided, the first plastic card in this print run would look like this; 01 2595 5001 8001, and the PIN hidden beneath the scratch off bar would be; 91259.
The artwork files provided, must also indicate the exact target location for each row of data, and point out where each variable field should be printed. Of course, you should create your own numbers and setup, the above screenshot is for demonstration purposes only.
Variable Images Printing per Card
Variable Images Printing - Now what about personalized plastic ID badges and membership cards, where you would like to print variable images, unique to each card?!
For a project like this, you would also have to create a similar excel spreadsheet as above, that provides a row of data for each card printed, and a column for each variable field. This screenshot is an example of a typical data file layout. You should provide the file name of the image in the Excel spreadsheet, and place all images together in a single images directory. In the screenshot example attached, the photo name “j.jones.jpg” is the actual file name for the image placed in the images directory, and is listed in the row for John Jones in Column “E”.
NOTE OF CAUTION: If you are printing variable ID photos, or any other variable images printing on plastic cards, you should make absolutely sure that each file is 100% IDENTICAL in size both in height and width. If the image file is off by even a single pixel, the image on the plastic card will be stretched, off or reduced and not look its best. The printer automatically inserts each image or ID photo on the cards, so sizing errors will only be seen when printing is completed.
Creating a database this way, provides us the variable data needed to be printed on each single plastic card. while giving you endless choices, for how to setup a custom gift card printing job, that works perfectly with your POS (Point Of Sale) in-store system. Should you have more questions about setting up a variable data database, please don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance.