Comparison of 5 Event Badge Printing Techiques

Are you aware that an event badge is the most frequently adopted method of verifying the identity of event attendees?

Comparison of 5 Event Badge Printing Techiques

They work very well at conferences, congresses, or seminars, among others. For the event organizer, the choice of the badge is crucial. Each type is very different, that is why you should choose the best one for your event.

Usually, attendees receive badges at event check-in. It is the organizer that decides when they need to be ready. It can be done before the event, in which case badges are produced after registration of attendees has been closed, or they can be printed at the reception desk.

This decision has an impact on available printing methods. This article discusses the available types of event badges, including some details about the costs. You will be the one to decide which method is the best for your event.

Plastic-coated paper badges

This is the most popular type of conference badges. They are made of heavy stock paper weighing 300g/m2 or more, and then coated with laminate or UV varnish. Unfortunately, technical limitations make it impossible to print such heavy badges at the event. Therefore, using this type of ID badges requires preparing all the copies before the event actually starts.

Optionally, you can pre-print additional 10-20% badges as blanks and fill in personal data of attendees with a different method. Then, you can use labels to print out the collected data (see Self-adhesive labels). Alternatively, you can use an appropriate model of a laser or ink printer to print attendee data, should you choose not to use laminate/UV varnish. However, it is quite complicated to calibrate printing parameters in office printers, which requires very light paper (300g/m2 is the absolute maximum but many printers do not support anything higher than 240-250g/m2).

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

Printing out during the event: only attendee personal data printed with office printers, label printers, or handwritten with a marker.

Plastic cards used as event badges

Plastic event badges must be made with printers that apply prints using special carbon paper. Plastic cards are quite commonly used in offices as badges for employees.

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

If you decide to use plastic cards, the most optimal solution, considering the cost and time required to handle each individual attendee, may turn out to be printing all ID badges before the event. Single copies for unexpected guests or people who lost their cards can be printed during the event.

Printing out during the event: whole cards or personal data only if cards have already been printed initially with a graphic design.

Conference badges on thermal transfer ribbons

In 2011, we used thermal transfer printers during the European Culture Congress. Such printers use rolls of thermal transfer ribbon and apply data by melting carbon paper coating, making the dye present on its surface adhere to the surface of the ribbon. The ribbon should be printed with the background beforehand. The printer will only apply attendee details (and the QR code) in black.

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

Printing out during the event: only attendee details.

Paper event badges based on passes

The method designed by our team will reduce your badge costs to the cost of purchasing three basic products: a ream of paper, a standard ink-jet, and plastic sleeves capable of holding A6 badges.

In CONREGO software, you can create personalized conference badges and other documents as PDF. Use a template in A4 size and prepare your own badge design that can be folded into A6 size (105x148mm). The front of the badge should include: logotypes of the organizer and/or the event, name, surname, the name of attendee’s organization, category of participation, and a QR code that identifies the attendee in the registration system. With the use of this method, the reverse side of a badge can contain a situational map and programme of the event (a general one or a personalized agenda for each attendee). It is very easy to prepare such a design.

Conference badges based on entry passes


Fig. CONREGO registration system has a built-in feature that allows you to automatically generate and attach passes designed and personalized in this manner to the confirmation email, which is sent to each attendee.

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

Printing out during the event: Entire cards or attendee details only if A4 already have preprinted badge background.

Self-adhesive labels

This solution was first applied in 2016. It consists in using any of the available badge printing methods and printing attendee details onto self-adhesive labels of various formats, which can be easily placed on a well-designed event badge. Self-adhesive labels are printed with thermal printers, manufactured e.g. by Brother. The entire process is carried out automatically, provided that your event registration platform offers such features.

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

Printing out during the event: only attendee details.

Watch a short video presenting label printing at event check-in:

A summary of methods used to print ID badges

This article ends with a table presenting all the media and printing methods that have been discussed in the article.

Type of badgeStiffnessPlastic holderPre-printing the background before the eventThe net cost of manufacturing 1,000 copies, including consumablesThe net cost of a printer
Paper, not coated Average Recommended Required 330 - 500 $ 160 - 230 $
Paper, plastic-coated High Unnecessary Required 330 - 500 $ Not possible to use a printer
Plastic cards Very high Unnecessary Optional 500 - 830 $ 960 - 6600 $
Thermal transfer ribbons Low Required Required 500 - 660 $ 430 - 1260 $
A4/A6 passes Very low Required Optional 100 - 160 $ 160 - 230 $
Self-adhesive labels Depends on ID badge Depends on ID badge Required The cost of manufacturing ID badges + 100 $ 80 - 160 $

Do you now know which kind of conference badges to choose?

Tomasz Chrościechowski