A step-by-step guide to printing PVC cards with the DS range!

A step-by-step guide to printing PVC cards with the DS range!

Printing PVC cards can be a valuable marketing tool for businesses to create a professional impression with their customers. PVC cards can be used for identification, access control, membership cards, gift cards, and loyalty cards. Printing PVC cards require a special card printer that prints to the needs and wants of your business. 

This blog will provide a step-by-step guide to printing PVC cards using a PVC card printer with the DS Entrust range.

Why is printing on PVC cards necessary?

PVC cards 

PVC cards are made from a durable, long-lasting plastic material designed to withstand wear and tear. Printing on PVC cards requires a printer capable of printing on this special material. The DS Entrust range is capable of printing on standard CR80 cards. 

Specialised printing, such as magnetic stripes, barcodes, or RFID chips, can be printed on the DS range of card printers. These features can be added during the printing process, ensuring your card is protected and secure.

Our RFID chipped cards, or smart cards as we call them, can affect your card's quality print if printed directly onto the chip. We recommend designing your card in a specific way so that any design, text or image does not cover the chip to get a quality printed card.

Our DS range comes with a magnetic stripe encoder at an additional charge for the encoder. This device lets you conveniently add magnetic stripe encoding functions to your card printer. Enabling you to have a more secure card for your business.

Adding a barcode is simple as you can print this onto the back of your card with a black or colour ribbon

Printing PVC cards on a PVC card printer also offers businesses the ability to customise their cards with their logo, branding, or other design elements. This customisation can help businesses create a professional image and stand out from their competitors.

Step 1: Set up the printer

Setup printer

Before printing your PVC cards, you must ensure your printer is correctly set up. First, turn on your card printer and wait for the status to say ready. 

Next, install the printer driver software on your computer. The driver software will come with the PVC card printer. The DS range all come with USB sticks. 

Lastly, ensure your PVC card printer is connected to your computer through a USB or Ethernet cable. 

Once the software is installed, ensure the printer is online and ready. Ensure that you have properly maintained and cleaned your card printer before you get to the next step.

Read our guide on tips to maintain your DS card printer. 

You can also access your printer's status and settings by using the IP address as your web address. Please follow this video to get into your printer properties. Our video ensures you have support for installing and setting up your printers.

Step 2: Design your PVC card

Design PVC cards

The next step is to design your PVC card. You can design your PVC card using Affinity Design and Publisher, Adobe Illustrator, or Canva software. I have tutorials explaining how to design your software on our easy platforms in Canva and Affinity. We also have a blog showing you how to create your designs on Canva; please feel free to follow along in this blog for more information. 

It is essential to ensure that the dimensions of your design match the dimensions of the PVC card you will be using. In the case of the DS Entrust range of card printers, the standard size of the card is 86mm x 54mm. 

If you are struggling with design ideas or have lost inspiration, Canva has a lot of different designs to pick from. Or if you’d like a more personalised touch, contact us, and our friendly design team will be happy to meet your business needs that make your design pop. 

You can easily download your design as a PDF and print directly from your card printer. But that is still to come. Follow along with me now. 

Step 3: Load the PVC cards

Loading PVC cards

Once you have designed your PVC card, it's time to load the cards into the printer. Make sure that the printer is turned on before loading the PVC cards, and ensure that the colour or black ribbon is loaded. Open the printer cover to ensure that your ribbons are loaded. 

Make sure that your card printer settings are the same. If you print a landscape design, ensure the printer's settings are changed to landscape. Please follow along in this video if you are stuck and don’t know how to change the settings. 

If you are printing with magnetic stripe cards, place the stack of PVC cards into the hopper tray with the card's printing side facing up and the magnetic stripe side facing down on the right. This will ensure you do not have any cards printed with the magstripe on them. Here is a video for you to follow explaining this. 

Step 4: Print a test card

Printing test card

Before printing your PVC cards, printing a test card is a good idea to ensure the printer works correctly and the colours and quality of your cards are up to standard. Sometimes the colours may take a while to warm up, so it could distort your cards. If this does happen, print at least two cards to ensure you are happy with the printing quality. 

To print a test card, first ensure that you remove your ribbon from the printer. Next, on the LCD panel, select the green user, select the enter arrow for the menu, enter again for maintenance, then select the down arrow until you see the test card and press start. This will print a sample PVC card to ensure the colours and design are aligned correctly. 

If the test card does not print correctly, check the printer settings and ensure the printer driver software is installed correctly. 

You can also print directly from your PC by accessing your printer's IP address from the web and accessing the printer settings. Here you can select the burger icon on the top left, select maintenance, and then select test card. Here you can decide which design you’d like to print and if you’d like to print double or single-sided cards. Here is a video explaining how all of this works as well so that you can follow along easily. 

Once you are happy with your test card and the colours are to your satisfaction, we can move on. 

Step 5: Print the PVC cards

Printing cards

Once you have tested the printer and loaded the PVC cards, it's time to print the cards. 

Go to your design and select "print", please make sure that you have double-checked the orientation settings on both printer settings to ensure that your card will be printed correctly. If you are printing both sides, ensure that you select flip on either long edges or short edges. 

  1. If printing on long edges, flip the card from left to right. 
  2. If you print on short edges, you flip from top to bottom. 

Now you can begin printing your PVC cards. 

The printing process can take a few minutes per card, depending on the complexity of the design and the printer speed. Usually, our card printers can print 225 single-sided colour cards per hour and 140 double-sided colour cards per hour. Whereas the monochrome prints are 880 single-sided cards per hour, much faster than the colour cards.

Ensure the printer is not disturbed during printing to avoid printing errors. This will make sure that you will have a smooth printing process and that your cards will come out the way you want them to. 

Step 6: Store the PVC cards

Storing pvc cards

Once the PVC cards have been printed, storing them correctly is essential to ensure they stay in good condition. Store the cards in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and heat. Avoid bending or folding the cards, as this can damage the magnetic stripe and the card's integrity.

Your cards can be contained in a cardholder that fits your cards well. This will ensure that your cards will not get damaged or broken if handled badly. It also allows for convenience when handing your cards out to the required people. Find out which cardholder is the best fit for your business with this blog

Store your cards in a cardboard box provided to you or shrinkwrap them in groups to ensure that no dust, oils or dirt get onto your cards before distributing them. 

Your cards will now be ready to be distributed. Whether it means to customers, employees, visitors or contractors. Your cards can be used for anything. 

Step 7: Clean the printer

Maintaining pvc cards

After printing the PVC cards, cleaning the printer is essential to ensure it works correctly. Ensure the printer is left in good cleaning condition before you power it off and store it away. 

Once you store it away, make sure that you clean it from time to time, even when you are not using it to ensure that no dust, oils or dirt get into the printing process. 

Use a printer cleaning kit to clean the printer. You should use this after every 250-card print. This kit will include cleaning swabs and a cleaning card. Use the cleaning swabs to clean the printer's printhead, and use the cleaning card to clean the printer's rollers. Please follow along in this video to see how to maintain your card printer better. 

Maintaining and cleaning your card printer is very important in increasing the longevity of your card printer's lifespan. You want your printer to last long so therefore, you need to look after it, and we have all the tools to do so. 

Please read more on why maintaining your card printer is so important!


Printing PVC cards can be a valuable marketing tool for businesses to create a professional impression with their customers. The DS Entrust range of card printers provides a reliable and efficient way to print PVC cards. 

Following this step-by-step guide, you can successfully print high-quality PVC cards to impress your customers and ensure your employees feel like a team. 

Remember to take the time to properly set up the printer, design your PVC cards, load the cards correctly, print a test card, print the cards, store your cards correctly and clean the printer. 

With the right tools and techniques, printing PVC cards can be a simple and effective way to enhance your business's marketing efforts and create a great sense of belonging among your employees.

Please feel free to get in touch with us for more information on printing cards and how we can help you. 

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